When Warner Bros. and Universal Studios finally resolved their legal monkey-business a few weeks back, I knew I could officially start getting excited for the March 6th opening of the Watchmen movie.
I know as much as anyone else that a complex work like Watchmen almost defies translation to movie form...but having had similar doubts about the Lord of the Rings movies (and happily being proved wrong), I'm willing to give Warner Bros. and director Zack Snyder the benefit of the doubt.
Naturally, the best way to prepare for the movie is to reread the original comic book version. Now, I've read Watchmen almost every year since its publication in 1986, and each time it's just as rewarding as the first reading. In fact, I think my respect, enjoyment, and flat-out astonishment for Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' masterwork has only increased over time. Regardless of the format, whether it was the original issues of the 12-part maxi-series or a trade paperback collection, each reading has been an experience I could honestly describe as transcendent.
Measuring a whopping 8.5" x 13" and featuring a "fresh coat of paint", Absolute Watchmen was the perfect way to make a familiar story a stunning new experience.
In fact, the best part of the larger format is how it's forced me to slow down and savor every panel. The watchmaker precision of Moore's story and exquisite detail of Gibbons' illustrations, while obvious before, now seemed gloriously magnified...like the crystaline beauty of a snowflake under an electron microscope.
As I alluded to earlier, another great touch was the complete remastering of the color by original colorist John Higgins. Fine-tuning color tones, altering some background colors, and adding a dot-screen effect to the pirate sequences (making them more obviously comic book panels), Higgins turned the quality dial up to a Spinal Tap eleven.
I'll spare you a blow-by-blow laundry list of observations on the story itself. You've no doubt read better and more insightful ones from others over the years...or, if you haven't read Watchmen yet, I don't want to spoil any of the magic of discovering it for yourself. But I will say this: You owe it to yourself to read (or reread) Watchmen at some point before the movie hits...not so much to compare the comic book to its film adaptation (though that comparison is inevitable), but more to appreciate and celebrate one of the pinnacles (if not the pinnacle) of comic book storytelling.
For those of you, like me, who have earlier formats of Watchmen, I highly recommend that you get yourself a copy of Absolute Watchmen...ideally before the movie hits. Although it's a bit skimpy in the extras department compared to other Absolute editions, it hardly matters when you've got the mesmerizing complexity, transcendent themes, and almost supernatural symmetry of Watchmen headlining the gig.
Click the link to the left for a nicely-discounted edition from Amazon.com (with free shipping)!