The Watchmen

By Alan Moore

Illustrated by Dave Gibbons

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: DC Comics, 1995

Genres: Fantasy, contemporary fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, adventure

Format: graphic novel

ISBN: 9780930289232

Intended audience: adult

Number of pages: 413

Settings: New York City, Antarctica, and Mars

Time period: late 1930s through mid 1980’s (The Cold War)

Plot summary: In an alternate history, super heroes become crime fighting forces to be reckoned with, that is until they are outlawed in 1977 (with a couple of exceptions).  When The Comedian is found dead from having been pushed out of a window, many “retired” super heroes become concerned and re-don their outfits to try to fight for justice and save the world from nuclear destruction.

Appeal Factors:

Pacing: Quick pace for the most part, although there are some slower sections.  At the end of each “chapter” of graphic format material is a prose section which deals specifically with one particular character.  This part moves more slowly.

Characterization: Told in both third person and first person from various perspectives.  The female characters (and women, in general) are not as strong as the men – this could be a drawback for readers who appreciate strong female characters.

Frame: While some parts of the book take place prior to the 1950’s, the majority of the story takes place throughout the Cold War, which sets the frame for the story.  The graphic part of the story is illustrated quite intricately in vibrant color drawings which often reveal much violence.

Story Line: When this book came out, it set a new standard for adult comics.  The story line is quite complex in that the story is told in a non-linear fashion from various perspectives and times.  There are also many details which add to the story but can be easily overlooked, if one is not paying close attention.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:
Comic books, strips, etc.
Graphic novels.
Superhero comic books, strips, etc.

Similar authors: (From NoveList) Neil Gaiman; Warren Ellis; Garth Ennis;  Brian Azzarello

Personal notes: While I really enjoyed this book (in spite of the weak female characters), I did not care for the movie at all (except for the opening credit scenes).  There was way too much splatter and gore for me to feel comfortable recommending this movie to anyone.

[Annotated 3/4/2009]

Other info: originally published in single magazine form as WATCHMEN 1-12 in 1986 and 1987.

John Higgins, colorist

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