Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Watchmen by Alan Moore

I don't do this book any justice with the brevity of this synopsis of Watchmen  but I don't want to give too much away.  So, it is the 1980's and masked vigilantism (sp?) has been outlawed by the government.  We get some of the story in the form of journal entries of the masked vigilante Rorschach, one of the last to remain unidentified and more or less active, though a fugitive because of the new laws.  He is looking into the recent death of fellow masked vigilante, the Comedian (one of the most conflicting characters I've ever encountered).  When other masked v's begin to suffer from various mishaps from assassination attempts to spurned lovers, Rorschach suspects that they are being picked off.  Now the only question is why?  Soon all the evidence points in an unwelcome and unlikely direction.  As the world seems about to explode from its own animosities, the Watchmen seem about to suffer the same fate.  If they completely disappear, then who will be left to save the world?

I once asked my coworker, Daxx the Magnificent (can you believe that is what the pirate name generator spit out?!?), to give me a list of his top five favorite graphic novels.  If you've been coming over to my House for any length of time then you know how much I love The Walking Dead series.  That was Daxx's #1 on the list I think, and it is one of my new favs of all time.  There was also V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and two others I can't recall right now.  

So, I finally read Watchmen because I wanted to get a feel for it before I saw the movie.  This was some complicated material, let me tell you.  I'm sure there are some people out there thinking, "oh, superheroes, capes, spandex...silly!  Real books don't have pictures!" and they are so wrong.  This book is about nuclear paranoia, social decline, and good ol' vigilante justice.  There were times when the historical discussion of the Afghanistan/Russia conflict going on at the time in which the book is set actually got a bit dry and lecture-like to me, but I persevered and was lushly rewarded for ploughing through the unexpected history lesson.  I admit up front and freely that Rorschach was my favorite character...even more so after seeing the movie.  I sniffled at the end.  I admit that too.  

I am glad they changed the ending for the movie because it was more than a little hokey to me, but I did not like what they changed it to.  I feel like that was a further betrayal of an already betrayed character but whatevah...I still liked the movie.  One of my favorite parts of the book, outside of Rorschach, was the reference to Doc Savage and his intrepid crew of adventurers.  Many, many, many people have no idea who this character is but I cut my reading teeth on the exploits of the Man of Bronze and am proud to own well over 100 of the books.  My uncle has quite a few...I occasionally try to talk him out of them but no such luck so far.  Like the characters in Watchmen, with the exception of Dr. Manhattan, Doc Savage had no superpowers.  What he has are some stunning genetics and an intensive training regime to keep his intellect and particular set of skills sharp and useful.  

I could go on and on but I'll stop there and simply say, don't miss out!  Challenge yourself to read Watchmen!

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