Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book Review: Watchmen by Alan Moore

This is another graphic novel that I read for the MOOC course I took (and didn't finish...womp womp) on comic books and graphic novels.  From Goodreads:
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.
So basically the plot here is an alternate history where everyday Americans took over the whole crime fighting thing from the police.  No super powers, just vigilante justice.  And for a while they were popular and appreciated and worked in an organized fashion with police, but now (mid-80's) they have lost their popularity and are, basically, out of business.  Someone starts to kill the old super heroes off one by one and the few remaining heroes are forced to try to find out who is doing it.

There's so much going on here, I'm scared to even try to start unpacking it all: from an examination of the whole concept of super heroes to the Vietnam War generation to commercialization to aging, it's got a whole lot going on.  It's one of those that takes a while to read because there are so many things happening.  There's the general storyline, but there's also a bazillion subplots and themes running through it as well.  I was impressed with how much Moore was able to pack in without losing the story line.

Entertainment Value
Compared to many of the other graphic novels I read for the course, this one has a lot of text.  And at some points that made it harder to read.  It took me a while to really get into it.  Once I got through the first fifty or so pages, though, I was hooked.  The story line had me interested, but it was really all of the artistic elements that kept my attention.  Each panel seemed to have something unique in it, something that really needed to be studied and that could relate back to a previous panel.  I was overwhelmed by the careful detail put into it.

If you're into graphic novels or general geekery, this is kind of a must-read.  I'll give the warning that it's dark and contains some nudity, lots of violence, and a sexual assault depiction.  Those things could be a major turn off for some of my readers, but if you're looking to get into reading comics and graphic novels, or if you're wanting to have a point of reference for modern geek culture, this is a great choice.

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