Comic books superheroes are simply fascist vigilantes, with Superman and his awesome dedication to truth, justice along with the American way being the exception that proves the rule. Both “Watchmen” and “The Dark Knight Returns,” both the greatest types of graphic storytelling, deal explicitly while using underlying fear the standard citizenry have with the demi-gods they worship. The one inherent advantage that “Watchman” has over Frank Miller’s classic tale is that it requires no knowledge with the existing mythos of that characters because Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias, Rorschach, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, the Comedian plus the rest on the former members from the Crimebusters.
The brainchild of writer Alan Moore (“Swamp Thing,” “V for Vendetta,” “From Hell”) and artist Dave Gibbons (“Rogue Trooper,” “Doctor Who,” “Green Lantern”), “Watchmen” was originally published by DC Comics in twelve issues in 1986-87. Moore and Gibbons won the Best Writer/Artist combination award in the 1987 Jack Kirby Comics Industry Awards ceremony. The central story in “Watchmen” is pretty simple: apparently someone is killing off or discrediting the first kind Crimebusters. The remaining members finish up coming together to uncover the who plus the why behind everthing, plus the payoff towards the mystery is most satisfactory. But why is “Watchmen” so special will be the breadth and depth of both characters in addition to their respective subplots: Dr. Manhattan handling his responsibility to humanity given his god-like powers; Nite Owl trouble leaving his secret identity behind; Rorschach being examined by the psychiatrist. Each chapter provides a specific target one from the characters, yet advances the narrative.
Beyond that this intricate narrative, Moore and Gibbons offer two additional levels towards the story. First, each chapter is followed using a “non-comic” section that develops more in the backstories, including numerous excerpts from Hollis Mason’s autobiography “Under the Hood” or Professor Mitlon Glass’ “Dr. Manhattan: Super-Powers as well as the Superpowers,” a meeting with Adrian Veidt, or reports in the police files of Walter Joseph Kovacs. Second, just about every issue has scenes from “Tales from the Black Freighter,” a comic-book being read with a kid near a newsstand, obtaining the an allegorical perspective around the main plot line.
“Watchmen” certainly nudged the comics industry from the right direction towards greater sophistication and intelligence, although the whole appreciation of the company’s significance is definitely going to be lost within the bean counters. The Book Club Edition of “Watchmen” supplies the teaser: “He’s America’s ultimate weapon . . . and he’s gonna desert to Mars.” As a representation in the work as a complete that description is stupid, especially because it is followed with a glowing recommendation by Harlan Ellison that concludes “anyone who misses this milestone event inside genre on the fantastic is often a myopic dope.” If you ever spent time reading and enjoying any superhero comic, you might appreciate everything you find in “Watchmen.”