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Who’s going to watch WATCHMEN? Not me….
By Steven Cherecwich

Gone with the Wind. Black Beauty. Alice in Wonderland. Bicentennial Man. Field of Dreams. Generals Daughter. The Iron Giant. The Last Mohican. The Lord of the Rings. Stuart Little. The Talented Mr.Ripley. To Kill a Mockingbird. Pride and Prejudice. Patriot Games. And now….Watchmen…

The list goes on and on, and what do they all have in common? Works of written literature that have been turned into movies. In each and every single case I can and will argue that the written form surpasses the theatrical version.

Of course, as of this writing, the movie version of Watchmen hasn’t even come out yet. (Due out 3/6/9) But that doesn’t matter….I’m not going to go see it anyway. I digress…we’re not here to review a movie, we’re head to read about a book. A graphic novel, to be precise.

Written in 1986 by Alan Moore and with art by Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins, Watchmen originally came out as a month comic but (as most successful monthlies) were turned into a packaged novel in the early ‘90s.

Watchmen is set in a fantastical 1985 “what-if” future. Imagine, if you will, that when the superhero comics of the 50’s came out, normal people started to emulate these heroes. It’s actually rather surprising that nobody’s done it, when you stop to think about it. These kids, like us, who grew up reading Superman and Batman, dreamt of taking on crime on their own. Is it so far-fetched to think that one of them might have grown up and put on a costume, to try and clean up their own neighborhood? And when there’s one, there’s more.

Eventually, some of those people might retire, and their children or a close friend may take up the costume to continue their good works. By this time, costumed heroes are average people like you and me, and have their own flaws…just like you and me.

They try to get together, to form a group. To create their own “Justice League” and it fails miserably. Why is that? Because the real world doesn’t fit into nice neat patterns like the comics do. And Alan Moore’s writing has captured every essence of the frail humanity within us all, from the dreams of what the world *should* be like, to the stark coldness of reality that it is.

The five central characters, the Owl, Rorschach, Ozymandias, the Comedian, and the Silk Spectre (II) all have their individuality, in all their strengths and weaknesses highlighted by the one ‘true’ superbeing of Dr. Manhattan (the blue guy…a man who was caught in a nuclear test chamber by accident.) It is Manhattan’s cold detachment and reflections upon his own loss of humanity that bring a *pop* to the rest of the characters existence.

As heartless and fickle as American culture is, it eventually turns on these heroes. The government forces them to hang up their capes and go back to their ordinary lives as ordinary people, and so most of them do. All except Rorschach, a very very very mentally unstable individual who believes more in revenge than in justice. He comes across with the attitude that he would rather simply kill someone who has committed a crime, than to risk their future crimes be more serious than that of an alley mugging. His logic flows near seamlessly, following the thought that a mugging means a need for money, and most people that need money are drug users, the users become pushers, who create more users which creates more muggings, and rapes, and other violent acts. It is much more effective to stop the trail now, before it even gets started.

Rorschach becomes focused when one of their own, the Comedian, is killed in the opening scenes of the book. The Comedian, as shown through flashbacks, seems to understand the world as it is, as he is a very straightforward mercenary for hire (who happens to be hired by the US Government.) His name comes from the fact that he alone truly understands how ironic and cold and heartless the real world is…and it makes him laugh with the absurdity of it all.

The others I won’t go into details here, as I wouldn’t want to spoil the book, but know that they all have their own back stories, their own complete lives. That is, I think, the most compelling feature about this novel. It’s actually three books in one.

There is the main storyline, which is essentially the death of the Comedian and Rorschach’s search for the truth, interspersed with flashbacks of all the characters back stories. Also included is a biography by the Night Owl titled “Under the Hood”, and a pirate sea adventure comic-within-a-comic entitled “Black Freighter”

Honestly, until I saw the commercial for the movie, I’d never even heard of Watchmen. I know, I was sheltered and kept in a box. However, I don’t regret picking up this book for a moment.


After all, how many comics do you know that have won a Hugo award? Or that rank #5 on Amazon?



Bottom line:

For the $50 I’d spend at the movie theatre, between the tickets, the food, drinks, etc, I’d rather sit home curled up in front of the fireplace with a good book. Especially since this one sells for only $10.99 on Amazon.com.

There’s a little bit of swearing, and a lot of excessive violence, a touch of sex and hints at a rape, which garners a PG-13 -- bordering on an R in my book. Still…it’s a must-have for just about anyone, whether you are a sociologist wanting to understand human behavior, a comic fan, or just have a few hours to kill….this 416 page graphic novel will not disappoint.

Excellent reading, but contains spoilers: http://www.johncoulthart.com/feuilleton/2006/02/20/alan-moore-interview-1988/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/reader/0930289234?%5Fencoding=UTF8&ref%5F=sib%5Fdp%5Fpt


Author's Note:
NOTE: Read something so good (or so bad!) you'd like to share? Have any special requests? Feel free to drop me a note and I'll check it out.



Author's Note:
NOTE: Next month! Marvel Zombies, where Superman meets Romero!




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Comments

The following comments are for "Majestic - A Graphic Review - 2009-03 - Who's watching Watchmen? Not me."
by scherecwich

The Watchmen - Mixed Reviews, but worth watching in my opinion.
Well, there were many mixed reviews on THE WATCHMEN, but I loved the concept of alternate universe and the character Rorschach I do believe was a very well developed character as was the Comedian to some extent, but the other characters I would say after watching it, were, very under developed as to their issues, MOTIVATIONS, etc.---also, the movie could have edited a few minutes here and there out of it, for it felt like it was much too long and not action filled enough in many parts.

Good review...still, I personally would recommend THE WATCHMEN for those who love superhero, alternate universe concepts, and GREAT fighting ACTION scenes here and there.

Thanks for this review.

Namaste,
Karma

( Posted by: TheRealKarmaTseringLhamo [Member] On: March 9, 2009 )

I'm ordering the graphic novel.
But I wanted to say the movie was horrible.

First, in my own warped sense of morality, it is my belief that any movies showing full-view genitalia deserves an adult only rating. Children don't need to be exposed to such things, even when accompanied by an adult; and throughout the Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan engaged in senseless, full-frontal nudity.

I'm an adult. I didn't mind. Hell, he was well-hung, and made me consider my own package a few time. But, a child or teenager has no need to see such things, and in my humble opinion, the full-frontal nudity did nothing to further the plot or character.

To be brutally honest, I was bored throughout the movie. To the point that I wanted to get up and leave. I went with a friend; and he was thoroughly engrossed, so I didn't . . . but I wanted to.

Even though I haven't read the graphic novel, my guess is that the writers and directors tried too hard to bring the writer's phsychological exploration of the characters to the big screen. Concepts that work well in books don't work well in movies.

So save your money, folks, and wait until it is released on DVD. It might be a nice way to spend 2 1/2 hours staring mindlessly at a television screen, but it's not worth shelling out $40.00 bucks for yourself and a friend at the movies.

Ochani Lele

( Posted by: OchaniLele [Member] On: March 11, 2009 )

Ochani- blue/flaccid/blurry/non-defined
Ah...come on, Ochani Lele, concerning the full frontal nudity, it was light blue, blurry and flaccid, no worse than taking the kids to the museum and look at some classic Greek statues, I liked it, if they had put pants on him it would have been weird since he changed sizes, like the incredible hulk, those would have to be super stretchy undies, hehehee;-)

Like my review of the review above, it is worth going to the matinee and take your own candy in your pockets, there you go, 2 people less than 15 bucks for a big screen Super Hero with some really great ACTION FIGHT scenes and special effects....but I am partial to fight action scenes and martial arts, so mixed reviews for sure....Joseph liked it like me, Josh liked it, my cousin Augustin didn't "get any of it"? Lol;-)

Karma

( Posted by: TheRealKarmaTseringLhamo [Member] On: March 11, 2009 )

See it...without expectations
In my mind, even though I've not seen the movie, this movie is like MANY other adaptations out there.

If you are going to insist on watching it, don't go as the obsessed fanboy. Go without preconceptions. Go without expectations.

At best, if you must, just go expecting to see some brutal fighting, and an interesting storyline.

Anything else will just be a letdown.

(p.s. I still don't plan on watching it.) :)

( Posted by: scherecwich [Member] On: March 11, 2009 )





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