Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
rating: 4 out of 5
My coworkers have all been reading and raving about Watchmen lately. This graphic novel tells the story of several generations of masked heroes. I have read several graphic novels in the past but never a “super hero” one. I am not much of a comic book fan either, so Watchmen was new territory for me in many ways.
I also read Watchmen because one of my book clubs selected Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I’ve been told that the lead character in that book is a fan of Watchmen. I figured I would read Watchmen to get better character insight for Diaz’s book.
I didn’t know much about the story of Watchmen before I started reading it. The “present day” in the novel is 1985 (which was around when the book was written) and superheros have been banned. America is also on the brink of a nuclear war with Russia. The story flashes between 1985 and stories of superheros from the 1940’s and 1970’s. In 1985, several superheros are showing up dead. The story is dark and pessimistic. The characters know that the world is approaching disaster and seem to have little if any hope of saving it.
In Watchmen, only one of the “superheroes” has a true super power. The rest are regular people who decided to become a masked hero. Moore did a good job of showing us the psychology of superheros–why different people make the decision to don a mask and costume. Some do it for fame, some for power, some to fight, and some to try to make the world a better place. The book makes you ask questions like what is good and what is evil? do the ends always justify the means? and of course… what would my superhero costume look like? 😉
Watchmen is considered a classic of the genre and I am glad that I’ve read it. It won the 1988 Hugo Award. I probably won’t rush out to buy and read more superhero graphic novels, but if one happens to mysteriously land on my to-read pile, I would read it.