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February 03, 2009

Comments

phillyradiogeek

I just got the trade paperback for Christmas. I had never read it before and wanted to check it out before the movie hit theaters. If you'll allow me the plug, I wrote my review of it on my blog just this past weekend, if anyone is interested: http://meandyouandablognamedboo.blogspot.com/

Mark Engblom

Glad to hear you finally had a chance to read it, Philly. The great thing is, it just seems to get better with every rereading.

Oh, and I loved that viral marketing video showing the "news article" on Dr. Manhattan. That newsreel footage of him with the tank is SPECTACULAR! Everyone, check it out!

Pat Curley

Although I loved the story when I read it, the nihilism of the ending concerns me more and more with each rereading. The villain turns out to have saved the world (by killing millions), and the attitude of the "heroes" (save the morally absolute Rorschach) is apparently that it may have been nasty, but it all worked out for the best, and we can't punish Ozy.

Mark Engblom

Oh, it's a VERY morally murky ending...but that's the appeal to me. I'm generally not a fan of that kind of thing, but Moore engineered it in such a masterful, Machievellian way, it makes a perverse kind of sense when the entire plan is laid bare. It was a morally gray world in which a black and white morality like Rorschach's couldn't exist (hense his "removal" from that world).

However, on top of that moral ambiguity is the final couple of panels, which more than imply Ozymandias' intricate plan may begin to unravel afterall. That, to me, shows the harsh justice of Rorshach's world view may indeed reassert itself.

Greg Walter

Mark, glad you are charitable about the upcoming film. I, too, cherish Watchmen. Just wanted to point out to readers who don't want to spring for the Absolute edition, the recent smaller hardcover reproduces Absolute's color changes. This was issued with a companion volume by Gibbons who wrote he was glad that Higgins finally is getting credit for his work.

Comic Coverage

Thanks for the info on the smaller hardcover, Greg...but I would still urge folks (who can) to spring for the Absolute Edition. It really is a different, much more impactful experience. For newbies, get the regular-sized book...but for anyone who's an old Watchmen fan, I can't recommend the Absolute edition high enough.

Pat Curley

As a one-off it doesn't bother me, but given how influential the story became I wonder if you can't argue that it (along with DKR) led directly to the situation we have now with almost nobody who really qualifies as heroic. I'm not usually a fan of slippery slope arguments and even if I were you could argue that Watchmen was just a logical progression from trends that had been going on for decades. But those two stories had a huge and immediate impact; they changed comics virtually overnight.

It's not as if Moore wasn't appalled at some of the changes that occurred as a result of Watchmen; IIRC he cited that when he published the (much lighter) 1963 series. And one can hardly blame Moore (or Miller) for the impact their individual stories had on the industry as a whole.

I had forgotten that denouement part where the conspiracy theory publisher's assistant is apparently going to publish Rorschach's diary.

Kelson

I actually make it a point not to re-read a book right before a movie adaptation comes out. I've found that when I do, I end up getting too caught up in minute-by-minute comparisons. When I don't, I can enjoy the movie on its own merits (if any), and I can still go back and read the book again afterward.

Greg Walter

Yes, Mark, the Absolute is brilliant and worth having. After devouring the Gibbons companion volume, I wondered if that material (esp. the preparatory art material) shouldn't have been in the Absolute edition. But then, Moore would have to have cooperated. And, it seems, he doesn't play well with others.

Comic Coverage

"As a one-off it doesn't bother me, but given how influential the story became I wonder if you can't argue that it (along with DKR) led directly to the situation we have now with almost nobody who really qualifies as heroic."

Nobody? Although I have plenty of problems with the modern comic scene, I don't see it as being quite that bleak. There are plenty of comics out there that feature and celebrate the heroic ideal...you just have to look for 'em and be open to them.

"But those two stories had a huge and immediate impact; they changed comics virtually overnight."

Again, I don't see it in as stark of terms as you do. Watchmen and DKR certainly rocked the field for all time, but there were plenty of things leading up to them that suggest a gradual spectrum of change rather than a single "Big Bang" of downbeat nihilism. Major mileposts before Watchmen and DKR include stuff like Miller's Daredevil, Moore's Swamp Thing, Claremont & Byrne's X-Men, Englehart-Rogers Batman, Wolfman & Colan's Dracula, O'Neil & Adams Batman, Wein's Wolverine, Conway's Punisher, Judge Dredd over in Britain,...well, you get the point. Things were getting darker well before Watchmen and DKR hit the shelves.

Pat Curley

There's where that hole in my knowledge of comics comes in. The only comics that I read from about 1977-1997 (except for some Spirit reprints) were DKR and Watchmen (precisely because they were well-enough known that a former comic addict would hear about them). Hence also my focus on the Silver Age.

Ivan Wolfe

I think it's pretty clear the ending indicates that Ozymandias's plan will unravel. Recall Dr. Manhattan's near final words that nothing lasts, and then think on the literary allusion from Ozymandias's name. There's a famous poem that ends like this:

"And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my works. Ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

I think it's pretty clear that Ozymandias's plan is bound to unravel.

Wes C

I recommended the Watchmen to a friend of almost 20 years. His response was what I expected, "I don't read comics". When I asked him "have I ever even once in almost 20 years said 'you have to read this!'" he admitted that I had never pushed any comic at all on him. He agreed to read it before the movie.
I'm betting he gets to issue 3 or 4 before giving up. I think the series is a little too chunky for most non-comics reader to take in on the first go.

But at least I tried.

Now if only I could get him to read some Kirby or Moebius

Mark Engblom

Ivan-

That poem is fantastic! Thanks for posting it. You can almost imagine Adrian Viedt, in his towering arrogance and hubris, thinking that fate reflected in the poem wouldn't apply to him. I wonder, would such a poem have been a better way to end Watchmen?...or does the ambiguity of the ending have the most dramatic power? I lean toward the latter....but I have to say, that poem would have also been a great touch.

Wes-

I think it's a 50/50 proposition for non-comics readers as to whether they'll stick with it. I think it depends on if they are readers to begin with, since it takes a seasoned reader's ability to stick with something to really immerse themselves in Watchmen. It's an admittedly challenging read, but one that really pays off if you see it all the way through. So, if your friend is an avid, experienced reader, I think he will enjoy Watchmen quite a bit. If not, then yeah....three or four issues at the most.

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