Book Review – Watchmen

This isn’t the first time I read it but I just finished re-reading it for the first time so I thought I may as well write a review. What more can be said about a graphic novel that is probably the most highly-praised work in the comic book genre? It’s by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, and it tells the story of a group of retired heroes trying to figure out if someone is trying to kill them. That description is far too simple, because the book serves as a commentary on the whole genre of superheroes as well as commenting on morality and philosophy and…yeah there’s a lot going on. 

The book is considered a definitive work for a reason. It uses original superheroes but they book does a great ob of introducing them that their decisions and what happens still evoke emotion. Lots of tropes common to the comic world are apparent yet they’re twisted and mangled here, and in Watchmen being a hero isn’t necessarily a heroic thing. I love superheroes and a lot of what this book does is deconstruct them to show that actually they may not be that relevant. I still think it’s possible to salvage some positivity out of it and it may not be as futile as the book suggests. 

Moore and Gibbons weave a tapestry that is incredibly detailed and rich. There are a lot of meta-references and each panel is deliberate and considered. There are twists aplenty but it doesn’t rely on twists to be memorable, and in fact it’s a book that rewards re-reads as there are minute details that are impossible to pick up over the course of the initial read. After each issue there are extra material which shed some light on the world of Watchmen and the heroes in it, and it adds to the impressive structure. There’s so much discussion of philosophical concepts that I don’t think it’s possible to cover it all in one review. The book is rife with symbolism and the symmetry between characters is astounding as you realize how each one is juxtaposed with another. Through the book there’s also the pirate tale, which is another device used to draw parallels between the main story. 

There’s just so much depth in this book it’s incredible and if you’re interested in comics or superheroes at all there’s no excuse for you not to go out and buy it right now. It’s one of those that everyone raves about and once you read it you understand why. 

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