This Hugo Award-winning graphic novel chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin.
One of the most influential graphic novels of all time and a perennial best-seller, Watchmen has been studied on college campuses across the nation and is considered a gateway title, leading readers to other graphic novels such as V for Vendetta, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and The Sandman series.
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publisher: DC Comics
Admittedly, my Watchmen journey began with my boyfriend buying it in a comic store and proceeding to gape at its pages for around three straight days. After watching the movie together and having him tell me every day for four months that it was the greatest graphic novel of all time, a literary masterpiece, the turning point in comic book history, and something he might very well love even more than he loved me, I gave in. It’s not easy, being overshadowed by a thirty-year-old yellow book.
Post-Watchmen, I don’t think I’ll be able to have a conversation with another human being without bringing up how brilliant it is. And that’s not just because I’m a massive dork that usually only communicates with other dorks.
Watchmen is, quite simply, exquisite. It’s one of the most important pieces of literature I’ve ever read, and I don’t mean in the sense that it revolutionised comics as a genre. In essence, Watchmen picks apart the very concept of humanity and exposes the inescapable darkness in each individual member of society. Alan Moore’s Earth is one that seems far beyond redemption, despite the masked vigilantes that seek, often in twisted ways, to save it. It’s harrowing, depressing, and at some points shockingly morbid, yet I found it impossible to turn away.
Because, at its core, Watchmen feels strikingly real.
As a reader of both “real” books and graphic novels, I can say in complete honesty that Watchmen has overshadowed almost everything else I’ve ever loved. And I know it sounds like I’m gushing here, but it’s difficult to express just how magnificent it is outside of writing a sonnet, or something.
To those of you who are hesitant about embarking on the greatest literary journey of your adult life, let me make this easier for you:
- If you won’t read it because it has pictures, read it for Moore’s exceptional characterisation.
- If you won’t read it because it has words, read it for the striking paneling and design.
- If you don’t like superheroes, read it because it deconstructs the stereotypical “hero” entirely, and quite literally strips down costumed vigilantes into flawed, damaged human beings.
- If you don’t like “meaningless fiction”, read it because of its groundbreaking exploration of Cold War nuances and the prospect of nuclear destruction.
- If you’ve already seen the movie, read it because the film obscured Moore’s stunning commentary on the human condition.
- If your significant other ruined the ending for you, read it because there are four hundred pages of epic storytelling that you’re missing out on.
- And if you won’t read it because Alan Moore’s “overrated”, all I can tell you is that he’s worshipped for a reason. Seriously. DC doesn’t make your novel a key element of their Rebirth initiative without you having done something right.
Just get on with it. The only thing you’ll regret is not having read it sooner.