Viewport width =
September 1, 2008 | by  | in Books |
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

The Watchmen by Alan Moore, illustrated by Dave Gibbons

Commonly referred to as “the Citizen Kane of comics”, Alan Moore’s The Watchmen takes the standard gangof- superheroes comic formula and subverts it by demonstrating the fascistic, apocalyptic consequences that vigilanteworship can have. While I don’t regard The Watchmen as the greatest comic ever – it doesn’t have the depth of imagination or pathos of Neil Gaiman’s epic Sandman series – it is brilliant, and forever changed the face of graphic writing. With the upcoming release of a featurefi lm adaptation, it’s time to look back on Moore’s magnum opus.

The plot, essentially, is this: after self-proclaimed masked heroes become too active in fighting crime during the 1970s, America’s police go on strike against the use of scab super-labour to do their jobs; eventually masked heroes are outlawed. Somewhere down the line, the nastiest of these heroes, the Comedian, is murdered. Moore uses the investigation into this killing to reveal the dark past of his outlawed heroes, from rape and alcoholism to winning the Vietnam War for Nixon. Around the time they are outlawed, the heroes also realise that the world’s true problems – i.e. humans treating each other like shit, from domestic violence to drug abuse – cannot be solved by a bunch of guys running around in their underwear.

Perhaps my favourite aspect of The Watchmen is the fact that each episode ends with a short section of excerpts from various texts mentioned in the illustrated storyline, from one character’s autobiography to a police file on another character, to news clippings and a brief history of piratethemed comics. Whereas the main illustrated sections subvert the classic superhero formula, Moore uses these text sections to pay homage to the comic book industry as a whole. So this book is both a meta-comic book about comic books, and itself a brilliantly compelling story illustrated in off-putting browns and purples.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

About the Author ()

Tristan Egarr edited in 2008. He threw a chair once.

Comments are closed.

Recent posts

  1. Laneway: Luck of the Draw
  2. Cuttin’ it with with Miss June
  3. SWAT
  4. Ravished by the Living Embodiment of All Our University Woes
  5. New Zealand’s First Rainbow Crossing is Here (and Queer)
  6. Chloe Has a Yarn About Mental Health
  7. “Stick with Vic” Makes “Insulting” and “Upsetting” Comments
  8. Presidential Address
  9. Final Review
  10. Tears Fall, and Sea Levels Rise

Editor's Pick

This Ain’t a Scene it’s a Goddamned Arm Wrestle

: Interior – Industrial Soviet Beerhall – Night It was late November and cold as hell when I stumbled into the Zhiguli Beer Hall. I was in Moscow, about to take the trans-Mongolian rail line to Beijing, and after finding someone in my hostel who could speak English, had decided