Watchmen

Watchmen

This Hugo Award-winning graphic novel chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin.One of the most influential graphic novels of all time and a perennial best-seller, Watchmen has been studied on college campuses across...

DownloadRead Online
Title:Watchmen
Author:Alan Moore
Rating:
ISBN:0930289234
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:416 pages

Watchmen Reviews

  • J.G. Keely
    May 13, 2007

    Since the movie came out, I've found myself having to explain why Watchmen is important and interesting. Despite being the most revered comic book of all time, it never really entered the mainstream until the film. Now, people are rushing to read it in droves, but approaching Watchmen without an understanding of its history and influences means missing most of what makes it truly special.

    The entire work is an exploration of the history and purpose of the superhero genre: how readers connect to i

    Since the movie came out, I've found myself having to explain why Watchmen is important and interesting. Despite being the most revered comic book of all time, it never really entered the mainstream until the film. Now, people are rushing to read it in droves, but approaching Watchmen without an understanding of its history and influences means missing most of what makes it truly special.

    The entire work is an exploration of the history and purpose of the superhero genre: how readers connect to it, and what it means philosophically. Moore stretches from fond satire to outright subversion to minute allusion, encasing the once-simple genre in layers of meaning. Even as he refines and compresses the genre, he also constantly pushes its boundaries. Watchmen is unapologetic, unflinching, and most miraculous of all, freed from the shame which binds so many comics.

    Moore never stoops to making an entirely sympathetic character. There is no real hero, and none of the characters represents Moore's own opinions. Superhero comics are almost always built around wholly sympathetic, admirable characters. They represent what people wish they were, and they do the things normal people wish they could do.

    It is immediately gratifying escapism, which many people attach themselves to, especially the meek who lead tedious, unfulfilled lives. Many people also do the same thing with celebrities, idolizing them and patterning their own lives on the choices those famous people make. But in this modern age of reality TV and gossip media, we know that celebrities are not ideal people.

    Indeed, their wealth and prominence often drives them mad. While everyone else views the world from the bottom up, they view it from the top down, and this skewed perspective wreaks havoc with their morality and sense of self. Moore's superheroes represent something even beyond this celebrity. Not only are they on the top of the heap, but they are physically different from other human beings. Their superiority is not just in their heads and pocketbooks, but in their genetics.

    They are not meant to be sympathetic, they are meant to be human. They are as flawed and conflicted as any of us, and while we may sometimes agree with them, as often, we find them distant and unstable.

    Many people have fingered Rorschach as the 'hero' of this tale, but that is as flawed as pinning Satan as the hero of 'Paradise Lost'. Following the classic fantasy of power, Rorschach inflicts his morality on the world around him. But, since he is not an ideal, but a flawed human, we recognize that his one-man fascist revolution is unjustified.

    We all feel that we see the world clearly, and everyone around us is somehow confused and mistaken. Often, we cannot understand how others can possibly think they way they do. Sometimes, we try to communicate, but there is often an impassable barrier between two minds: no matter how much we talk or how pure our intentions, one will never be able to convince the other.

    We all feel the temptation to act out--if only those disagreeable people were gone, the world would be a better place. While this justification may be enough for most comic writers, Moore realizes that the other guy thinks everything would be better if we were gone. Rorschach lashes out because his ideas are too 'out there' and he is too socially insecure to convince anyone that he is right. He is unwilling to question himself, and so becomes a force of his own violent affirmation.

    Most who sympathize with him are like him: short-sighted and desperate, unable to communicate with or understand their fellow man. Many are unwilling even to try. Rorschach becomes a satire of the super hero code, which says that as long as you call someone evil, you are justified in beating him to death. This same code is also commonly adopted as foreign policy by leaders in war, which Moore constantly reminds us of with references to real world politics.

    The rest of the characters take on other aspects of violent morality, with varying levels of self-righteousness. Like the British government of the 1980's, which inspired Moore, or the American government of the beginning of this century, we can see that equating physical power with moral power is both flawed and dangerous. Subjugating others 'for their own good' is only a justification for leaders who feel entitled to take what they can by force.

    The only character with the power to really change the world doesn't do so. His point of view is so drastically different from the common man that he sees that resolving such petty squabbles by force won't actually solve anything. It won't put people on the same page, and will only create more conflict and inequality. Dr. Manhattan sees man only as a tiny, nearly insignificant part of the vast complexity of the cosmos. Though he retains some of his humanity, his perspective is so remote that he sees little justification for interference, any more than you or I would crush the ants of one colony to promote the other.

    The ending presents another example of one man trying to enforce his moral solutions upon the entire world. Not only does this subvert the role of the super hero throughout comic book history, but reflects upon the political themes touched on throughout the book. Man is already under the subjugation of men--they may not be superhuman, but still hold the lives of countless billions in their hands. It is no coincidence that Moore shows us president Nixon, a compulsive liar and paranoid delusional who ran the most powerful country in the world as he saw fit.

    Moore's strength as a writer--even more than creating flawed, human characters--is telling many different stories, which are really the same story told in different ways, all layered over each other. Each story then comments on the others, presenting many views. His plots are deceptively complex, but since they all share themes, they flow one into the next with an effortlessness that marks Moore as a truly sophisticated writer.

    Many readers probably read right across the top of this story, flowing smoothly from one moment to the next, and never even recognizing the bustling philosophical exploration that moves the whole thing along. The story-within-a-story 'The Black Freighter' winds itself through the whole of Watchmen, and for Moore, serves several purposes. Firstly, it is another subversion of comic book tropes: Moore is tapping into the history of the genre, when books about pirates, cowboys, spacemen, monsters, and teen love filled the racks next to the superhuman heroes before that variety was obliterated by the Comics Code (yet another authoritarian act of destruction by people who thought they were morally superior).

    But in the world of Watchmen, there are real superheroes, and they are difficult, flawed, politically motivated, and petty. So, superhero comics are unpopular in the Watchmen world, because there, superheroes are fraught with political and moral complexity. These are not the requisite parts of an escapist romp. We don't have comic books about our politicians, after all. We may have political satire, but that's hardly escapist fun.

    So, instead they read about pirates. Beyond referencing the history of comics, 'The Black Freighter' works intertextually with Watchmen. The themes and events of one follow the other, and the transitions between them create a continuous exploration of ideas. Moore never breaks off his story, because even superficially unrelated scenes flow from one to the other, in a continuous, multilayered, self-referential narrative.

    I continually stand in awe of Moore's ability to connect such disparate threads. Many comic authors since have tried to do the same, but from Morrison to Ellis to Ennis, they have shown that striking that right balance is one of the hardest things an author can do. Most of Moore's followers end up with an unpalatable mish-mash instead of a carefully prepared and seasoned dish.

    Unlike most comic authors, Moore scripted the entire layout for the artist: every panel, background object, and action. Using this absolute control, Moore stretched the comic book medium for all it was worth, filling every panel with references, allusions, and details which pointed to the fullness and complexity of his world. Moore even creates meaning with structure, so that the size, shape, and configuration of panels tell much of the story for him.

    One of the volumes is even mirrored, so that the first page is almost identical to the last, the second page to the second last, and so on. That most readers don't even notice this is even more remarkable. That means that Moore used an extremely stylized technique so well that it didn't interfere with the story at all.

    But therein lies the difficulty: if a reader isn't looking for it, they will probably have no idea what makes this books so original and so remarkable. This especially true if they don't know the tropes Moore is subverting, or the allusive history he calls upon to contextualize his ideas.

    While many readers enjoy the book purely on its artistic merit, the strength of the writing, and the well-paced plot, others disregard the work when they are unable to recognize what makes it revolutionary. One might as well try to read Paradise Lost with no knowledge of the Bible, or watch Looney Toons without a familiarity with 1940's pop culture.

    It is not a perfect work, but there is no such thing. Moore's lead heroine is unremarkable, which Moore himself has lamented. He did not feel entirely comfortable writing women at that point in his career, and the character was forced on him by the higher ups. Luckily, she's not bad enough to ruin the work, and only stands out because she lacks the depth of his other characters.

    His politics sometimes run to the anarchic, but often this is just a satire of violence and hubris. Moore gives no easy answers in his grand reimagining. His interlocking stories present many thoughts, and many points of view. In the end, it is up to the reader to decide for himself who was right or wrong--as if anyone truly could be.

    Moore never insults the intelligence of his readers, and so creates a work with more depth than anyone is likely to plumb even after numerous readings. Likewise, he does not want you to 'hold on for the ride', but expects that you will engage and question and try to come to terms with his work, yourself. No one is necessarily the hero or villain, and many people find themselves cowed and unsure of such an ambiguous world, just as we do with the real world.

    Watchmen is not instructional, nor is it simply a romp. This book, like all great books, is a journey that you and the author share. The work is meant to connect us to the real world, and not to let us escape from it. This is Moore's greatest subversion of the superhero genre, and does even more than Milton to "justify the ways of God to man", for many men delude themselves to godhood, yet even these gods cannot escape their fundamental humanity.

  • Brad
    Mar 25, 2008

    I've been in many discussions over the years -- some in classes I was teaching, some over pints in the bar, and still others late at night with people I love -- about what

    was trying to say with

    , discussions about the meaning of his graphic novel, and I am convinced that the meaning is not what most people think.

    Most people I have talked to look at Veidt's mini-Armageddon to bring peace as inherently evil -- and the most monstrous act in a book of monstrous acts. Veidt's act

    I've been in many discussions over the years -- some in classes I was teaching, some over pints in the bar, and still others late at night with people I love -- about what

    was trying to say with

    , discussions about the meaning of his graphic novel, and I am convinced that the meaning is not what most people think.

    Most people I have talked to look at Veidt's mini-Armageddon to bring peace as inherently evil -- and the most monstrous act in a book of monstrous acts. Veidt's act trumps The Comedian's attempted rape of Silk Spectre and the murder of his child in the womb; it trumps Rorschach's punishment of the child killer, his torture of "innocent" informants, and the brutality he delivers unto anyone he happens to see committing a "crime," petty or otherwise; it trumps Dr. Manhattan's personal engagement in the Vietnam War; Veidt's action even seems to trump the not-so-petty criminal activities we see perpetrated by peripheral "criminals" throughout

    .

    On the surface, we tend to condemn Veidt's action because of its scale. It's cold and precise and sterile and necessarily takes the lives of "millions of innocent people." We have been indoctrinated from the youngest ages to hate this kind of killing more than any other. Our great monsters are Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, but we somehow find it in our hearts and minds to forgive Truman's nuclear attacks on Japan because they "saved millions of lives," as a young Walter Kovacs (aka Rorschach) writes in an essay about his absent father, defending Nuclear War and the Truman doctrine, albeit at an early age. And if we can forgive Truman's attack (I recognize that some people cannot forgive that attack, but many, many can), why not forgive Veidt? If we can forgive one, we must forgive the other. Sure Veidt killed more people, but he saved more too, and created a utopia out of the chaos.

    This discrepancy in our accepted opinions is not lost on Alan Moore; in fact, it is at the core of

    . We see it being played out in dialogue and action by characters from The Comedian to Rorschach, from Ozymandias to Dr. Manhattan, and even in the supporting folk who populate Moore's distopian future.

    When faced with this discrepancy and pressed to discover why Veidt's actions continue to rile us, it doesn't take long to uncover a deeper root for our disdain: our need for individuality and Veidt's destruction of the freedom to make our own mistakes.

    This realization of our anger at Veidt and why his action is "evil" quickly becomes the accepted meaning of Moore's story: that derailing humanity's ability to choose is the greatest wrong anyone can commit (the secular see this as a fundamental attack on our freedom, while the religious see this as our fundamental gift from God, but they tend to add anger at Veidt for playing God), and that Veidt's utopia will fail because the power of the individual is too great -- it always overcomes.

    I disagree.

    I don't think Moore considers Veidt's act evil so much as misguided. I am not convinced that Moore believes in good and evil at all. Throughout

    we are led to see one man as the man who "gets it," and that figure is not Rorschach. Rorschach is a guide, nothing more. Rorschach acts as an Horatio figure, guiding us through the narrative, telling us what to pay attention to, whom to believe, what to see: mostly he is trying to get us to see The Comedian. If the story is anyone's it is The Comedian's. The Comedian is the man who

    , and what the amoral Comedian gets is that morality is a construct designed to help us avoid despairing at what Moore believes is the truth: humanity is violent and base; it is ignoble; it is doomed to repeat and repeat and repeat its violence because that is what humanity does best -- violence -- and everything else is playacting. Thus, Veidt's mini-Armageddon is futile, not because of our noble individuality, not because of the strength of our human spirit, but because of the strength of our animal instincts. All those lives were wasted to create a utopia that simply couldn't be.

    And Rorschach's journal, slipped through the door of the paper and ready to be printed, is the detonation cap.

    may be the most hopeless popular book printed in the last fifty years, and the most truthful. I am continually shocked by its popularity (even if only as a cult phenomenon), but then maybe it is only popular through a quirk of misunderstanding. Then again, it could be popular because people understand it better than they're willing to admit.

  • Nicole Prestin
    Jul 23, 2008

    I realize that what I'm about to say is as close as you can get to comic book blasphemy, but I think that 1) Alan Moore is the most overrated comic book writer ever and 2) this graphic novel is overblown, pretentious and most unforgivable of all, boring.

    To be fair, I'm somewhat of a snob when it comes to my reading habits. First and foremost, I want to be entertained. If the story happens to be deep, thought provoking or groundbreaking as well, that's icing on the cake. And the bottom line is th

    I realize that what I'm about to say is as close as you can get to comic book blasphemy, but I think that 1) Alan Moore is the most overrated comic book writer ever and 2) this graphic novel is overblown, pretentious and most unforgivable of all, boring.

    To be fair, I'm somewhat of a snob when it comes to my reading habits. First and foremost, I want to be entertained. If the story happens to be deep, thought provoking or groundbreaking as well, that's icing on the cake. And the bottom line is that this book simply did not entertain me. It was too busy trying to be Deep and Meaningful and Teach Us A Lesson to actually do anything as lowbrow as make compelling characters the reader can identify with and have them do interesting and entertaining things.

    While I love characters who are sucky human beings in small doses, stories where damn near everyone sucks like this one get on my nerves. I don't like reading stories filled with a bunch of irredeemable emo asshats who do shitty things to each other (and to humanity in general), and where the the themes of the story are pounded into your face with the delicacy of a sledgehammer.

    So clearly not my cup of tea, but I'm obviously in the minority on this one.

  • Fabian
    Jul 30, 2008

    Not a fan of the graphic novel but this epic actually moved me. It tells of the human drama, the DNA that is passed down generations, the hopelessness of modernity, and which side we'll choose when the apocalypse is neigh. It is pessimistic, dark, & sometimes silly (as a staple of the genre... it wouldn't be a success if it wasn't SOMEhow ridiculous).

    "The Incredibles" (the Best Pixar Picture Ever) touched upon many of the themes presented here, mainly about the humanity of "Superheroes." Can

    Not a fan of the graphic novel but this epic actually moved me. It tells of the human drama, the DNA that is passed down generations, the hopelessness of modernity, and which side we'll choose when the apocalypse is neigh. It is pessimistic, dark, & sometimes silly (as a staple of the genre... it wouldn't be a success if it wasn't SOMEhow ridiculous).

    "The Incredibles" (the Best Pixar Picture Ever) touched upon many of the themes presented here, mainly about the humanity of "Superheroes." Can a rapist actually save lives? Can the past be altogether discarded so that one can live a "normal" life--whether its superhero or human? This menagerie of misfits (Nite Owl, Dr. Manhattan, the Comedian, Ozymindas, Silk Spectre...) live and breathe, that is a FACT. Also, the match-cuts are cinematic in a work that is, ironically, dubbed "unfilmable." A character in a comic book tells of his fate, which matches the action that occurs in the comic book WE are reading. It's postmodern AND complex. Let us hope the film comes close to matching its genius.

  • Schmacko
    Aug 11, 2008

    I can understand why this is considered a holy tome in the field of graphic novels. The plot is complex, it’s unique, and it’s well drawn. Also, it’s got the Holy Grail of every geeky comic book fan's wetdreams – lots of cool gadgets and stuff.

    I ain’t knocking that. Imagination abounds, and I am thoroughly impressed. I love that comic books and graphic novels create their entire world – but – BUT then again every piece of art creates it’s own world. And ALL OF THOSE OTHER ARTS MAKE EMOTIONALLY E

    I can understand why this is considered a holy tome in the field of graphic novels. The plot is complex, it’s unique, and it’s well drawn. Also, it’s got the Holy Grail of every geeky comic book fan's wetdreams – lots of cool gadgets and stuff.

    I ain’t knocking that. Imagination abounds, and I am thoroughly impressed. I love that comic books and graphic novels create their entire world – but – BUT then again every piece of art creates it’s own world. And ALL OF THOSE OTHER ARTS MAKE EMOTIONALLY ENGAGING STORIES!

    I get frustrated because my graphic-novel friends keep foisting these things on me. They love me, they see me as very imaginative and very supportive of their creativity, but they cannot seem to get why I go cold at graphic novels.

    This one was thrust upon me, because I was affected by the movie The Dark Knight. I got emotionally engaged. I felt hopeless with Batman. I got a knot in my stomach when that horrible, unspeakable thing happened two-thirds of the way through the film. I was troubled by Joker’s logic, and I was frustrated with the people in the ferries. In other words, I WAS EMOTIONALLY ENGAGED!

    A lot of these graphic novels and stuff seem to think that if they simply tickle your creative brain, they’ve succeeded. I want more – I want to laugh and cry and cheer and feel despair. I want a core of true human story. Gadgets and colors and costumes and superpowers don't make me weep or shout or ponder or giggle or sigh. Well, they make me sigh - with frustrationa nd boredom.

    I know I sound angry at these things. I get frustrated, because I don’t think this is so hard to understand that I need emotional stimulation. And yet, my graphic-novel friends still press these books in my hand, hoping to unlock my wonder and amazement.

    I was full of wonder and amazement at The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a novel about a superhero and the super-human who spawned him. I am not above the magical, mystical, and fantastic (I love Harry Potter), but there has to be more than just gadgetry and explosions. There has to be honesty and the courage to plumb the human experience. I felt terribly at Kavalier’s struggles with violence and anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. Sam Clay’s secrets were heart-breaking. Kavalier’s search for revenge and Sam’s search for respect were emotionally engaging. In Harry Potter, I rallied behind Mrs. Weasley's maternal drive. I loved Harry's indignance at cruelty. I thought Hermione's concern for elves was sweet, and complicated (who know they wanted to be slaves). Chabon succeeded at making me feel, and so did Rowling. Watchmen did not.

    Watchmen is about two generations of heroes. One was human – using costumes, strength, and cunning. The next was led bys a superhuman, Dr. Manhattan – they were both human and somewhat superhuman. Then a law was passed making their work illegal, and they went underground. It’s only when someone starts bumping off the old retired heroes that a mystery starts, a mystery that asks the esoteric and totally intellectual (read: unemotional) question of why humans can be drawn to the edge of doom, and what they need to do to stop just at the edge.

    Oh - for the people who know and love Watchmen - I felt bad for how Dr. Manhattan couldn’t have a human relationship. And I understood why Laurie got infuriated. The thrill of Laurie and Dan becoming superheroes again was honest and wonderful. But that was it – I didn’t feel the panic of the world ending (mostly because if it did happen, there’d be no story). I didn’t care for the casual use of rape as a plot point. None of the long-winded, theoretical discussion about whether humanity was worth saving had any emotional pull to me. I didn’t care. In all 413 pages, I had four honest emotional reactions. One of my reactions was anger at the tangential pirate story (don’t ask – it doesn’t have any emotional or thematic reason for being there – it was just added because someone thought it was cool).

    Cool. There’s the problem. Cool things don’t make me feel. People can imagine and draw all the cool things in the world, and it won’t make me emotional engage. Cool things don’t make my heart race or break or pause. They leave me cold. Graphic novels are mostly cool.

  • Felicia
    Feb 07, 2009

    Hmm, what to say. I read this AFTER I saw the movie, which was sacrilege according to some fellow geeks on Twitter, but my definition of "Geek" is someone who doesn't do what people PRESSURE them to do :P They love what they love. So anyhoo I read this and I can summarize this way:

    The Movie did a great summary of the plot while formulating a story that missed the subtext of the graphic novel entirely.

    I enjoyed both, but after reading the graphic novel, it's almost sad how the impression you tak

    Hmm, what to say. I read this AFTER I saw the movie, which was sacrilege according to some fellow geeks on Twitter, but my definition of "Geek" is someone who doesn't do what people PRESSURE them to do :P They love what they love. So anyhoo I read this and I can summarize this way:

    The Movie did a great summary of the plot while formulating a story that missed the subtext of the graphic novel entirely.

    I enjoyed both, but after reading the graphic novel, it's almost sad how the impression you take away from the movie is nothing of what Alan Moore was trying to say about the world, society or these characters. So interesting.

  • Mark Lawrence
    May 30, 2011

    I didn't read this until last year. I saw the film about six months later. I'm a new convert still radiant with that 'just converted' glow.

    Along with the Sandman graphic novels this is my favourite work in the medium (Zenith and Preacher get honourable mentions). Watchmen wins over all of the other candidates in ambition. This is a work of vast ambition. It doesn't deliver on every level, it isn't perfect, but it contains so much that succeeds, and comes so close to fulfilling its promises that

    I didn't read this until last year. I saw the film about six months later. I'm a new convert still radiant with that 'just converted' glow.

    Along with the Sandman graphic novels this is my favourite work in the medium (Zenith and Preacher get honourable mentions). Watchmen wins over all of the other candidates in ambition. This is a work of vast ambition. It doesn't deliver on every level, it isn't perfect, but it contains so much that succeeds, and comes so close to fulfilling its promises that it would be churlish to mention any failings.

    Alan Moore is a great writer. He's not a great writer for comics, he's a great writer period, who happens to have made the graphic novel his medium. Watchmen is at times literary, funny, erudite, tragic, exciting, intriguing... it's written for intelligent grown-up readers.

    The plot sprawls, it's convoluted, it spans generations and a large cast. What keeps it together are the deeply personal stories on various scales. Its scope was what kept it from the big screen for so long, and in truth the movie (whilst good fun and well done, I thought) is just a 2D projection of this complex multi-dimensional work. That same complexity is stopping me from doing it justice in this short review. Rather than try I'm just going to back off the grandiose praise and return to the punchline:

    This is a fun read. It's exciting. The artwork ROCKS. It's as deep as that hole Alice fell down, but you never notice you're falling. Pick it up. Read it with pride. If someone sneers at you for reading a comic-book... hit them with it. It's nice and fat!

    .

  • Sanjay Gautam
    Jun 26, 2012

    Alan Moore is the greatest graphic novelist of all time. He has created a world where superheroes are not typical superheroes like super-man, spider-man et al. Each superhero has a unique philosophical perspective. And he has created superheroes who were either in deep complex psychological crisis or are going through one, and they are not perfect who always save the day in the end.

  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    Mar 24, 2014

    What's this? Unpopular opinion time?

    Most of my friends and most of Goodreads love this book. I did not. I read for pleasure. I don't care if reading makes me smart. I don't care if reading makes me pretty. I just want that escape into other worlds.

    If I went to this world-I would die from boredom.

    I actually like the darker books so I thought this one would sweep me up into the fandom of it. But, alas, it just made me sleep quite well last night.

    I didn't even know there was a movie made from i

    What's this? Unpopular opinion time?

    Most of my friends and most of Goodreads love this book. I did not. I read for pleasure. I don't care if reading makes me smart. I don't care if reading makes me pretty. I just want that escape into other worlds.

    If I went to this world-I would die from boredom.

    I actually like the darker books so I thought this one would sweep me up into the fandom of it. But, alas, it just made me sleep quite well last night.

    I didn't even know there was a movie made from it until someone mentioned it while I was reading it.

    My hubby would probably like the movie so we may try that at some point. But I ain't in no hurry.

    Oh, and for the trolls that I'm sure I will attract with this review.

    Because everyone has their own opinion. Go write yours. (on your own frigging review)

  • Bookworm Sean
    Oct 07, 2015

    This is, simply put, iconic. When any one mentions comics/graphic novels the first thought that enters is an image of the Watchmen. I think there is a strong reason for it. It made me question morality on a scale rarely seen in fiction. Indeed, when considering the characters it is incredibly hard to consider any of them truly good or truly bad. They are simply people who are convinced that they are right.

    Take Rorschach, he follows the law to the very letter, but nev

    This is, simply put, iconic. When any one mentions comics/graphic novels the first thought that enters is an image of the Watchmen. I think there is a strong reason for it. It made me question morality on a scale rarely seen in fiction. Indeed, when considering the characters it is incredibly hard to consider any of them truly good or truly bad. They are simply people who are convinced that they are right.

    Take Rorschach, he follows the law to the very letter, but never stops to consider, for a single moment, that there are actually problems with the law; yes, he is violent, but his unique form of vigilante justice is an embodiment of the law’s order. He works outside the law to bring the law in a strange sort of way. Then is he not worthy of the justice he administers? Does he go too far? Is he, too, not worthy of punishment? These are hard questions to answer because there are no real answers. There is simply opinion and debate; it all depends on how you view the world. One thing remains certain though, the characters in here are so

    On the other hand, you have Ozymandias who looks at the big picture. He sees the world for what it is, and tries to plan accordingly. Except, unlike Rorschach he attempts to tackle the bigger problems. To many, he is simply the villain. In reality he is as obscurely heroic as Rorschach and just as morally grey. Who has the right to sacrifice life? Who has the right to dictate people and make such a monumental decision? Well, nobody really. Yet, Ozymandias’ actions, essentially, save the world. Who can question his results? His methods are clearly debatable, though it was the only route open to him. There is simply no quantifiable right or wrong in this world; there is only neutrality and hypocrisy.

    This is where the self-actualised Comedian comes in. Unlike Rorschach, he is fully aware of his faults and corruptness. Unlike Ozymandias, he perceived that the world has no hope. So, what does he do? He embraces himself and indulges in his own overbearing personality. He knows what he is, and what he reflects, so he relishes in his own nature. He offers no guilt and feels no remorse: he simply doesn’t care about anything or anyone. In this he is more neutral than any other character; he isn’t in denial; he isn’t convinced he is right: he just knows that the world is, essentially, doomed.

    So, why not enjoy it? It’s all a joke, after all. Right?

    There are so many conflicting and self-defeating morals in here. Never before have I read something in which so many people have been wrong, but at the same time so absolutely right. Then there is Jon, the so called God of America, the supreme Dr Manhattan. He is something else entirely. He could have changed everything. His power was practically limitless, but he barely lifted a finger until the last possible moment. And the pointing of that finger was an action that was both terrible and completely necessary. The answer became clear as to the question of his inaction: why should he bother with man? The Comedian got to him in this; he saw something in humanity that wasn’t worth saving. Rorschach saw it too, but he still tried to salvage the remnants of society through brutalising the brutalisers. Dr Manhattan, however, was simply too complex and too important to waste his time on the common man. He came through in the end though, surprisingly. Well, kind of. I thought he’d watch the world burn, but humanity did have another protector albeit one who committed necessary evils.

    This was such a great piece of fiction; I don’t think I could ever do it justice in a review. Parts of this felt too intricate to put into words. This is a complete subversion of the entire genre and a full questioning of the flawed, and hypocritical, nature of humankind. It is a piece of work that will, simply put, never be forgotten by those that have experienced its mortifying splendour. This is the first comic book I’ve seriously considered to be great; it has become a gateway for me to explore the comic book universe that I’ve barely touched in the past.

    So I ask you this: what comic book should I read next? Can any other comic really compare to this?