Watchmen (Alan Moore) = 3/5

Watchmen is a graphic novel set in an alternate history and is about the adventures and backstories of superheroes well past their vigilante days (the government outlawed unauthorized superheroes). The narrative is presented through illustrated chapters (i.e., comic book serial narratives) accompanied by ephemera relating to the events or principal characters in that segment. The principal characters include the vigilantes Rorshach (dishes out justice/murder according to his own moral code), The Comedian (government-approved hero), Dr. Manhattan (government-approved hero who transcends temporospatial limits), Nite Owl (retired hero with owl-themed tech and outfits), (the young) Silk Spectre (Dr. Manhattan’s lover), and Ozymandias (genius businessman).

I can see why Watchmen was so groundbreaking and is still so popular- it has a strikingly original setting (especially when one considers contemporary comic stories and graphic novels) and features both explicit and implicit social commentary. The characters all have their own motivations and flaws, and they come across as people.

I found Watchmen‘s narrative too disjointed and too dense for my liking, and I never found myself connecting with or particularly liking any of the characters. I’d recommend it for people looking for out-of-the-box graphic novels, stories that challenge social norms, and flawed/human characters.

TL;DR: A landmark graphic novel, Watchmen portrays the humanity of aging (former) superheroes who struggle to cope with and adapt to their own flaws and shortcomings in a world moving on without them.

Review originally written 3 April 2017

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