Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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"The Watchmen", Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

May 25th, 2009 · No Comments · Sci-Fi, Trash


Synopsis: Set in a dystopian 1980s cold war alternative reality in which superheros help America win the Vietnam war and Richard Nixon stay in the White House well beyond constitutional term limits, a group of out of favour and long retired superheros investigate a series of attacks on ‘masked adventurers’.

My Take: I can’t say I’ve ever had much of a desire to read comic books ( ‘Graphic Novels’ for the sophisticates). However, I decided to dip into the medium for the first time after The Watchment was given a big wrap in Slate’s excellent Culture Gabfest.

The general consensus was that while the recent CGI-fest blockbuster movie adaptation of the book was a disappointment, the 1986 original was a classic of the genre. In fact, The Watchmen is listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Greatest English Language Novels since 1923 (don’t ask me how they chose the parameters for this list).

So, ever keen to broaden my horizons, I prized open my mind, cast off my preconceptions and dived into the unfamiliar. I really did give this book a chance.

Unfortunately, while the world created by The Watchmen was engaging, the storyline and characterisation really were a bit childish. Maybe the concept of flawed superheros was innovative enough in itself in the mid-eighties to carry the book, but really, the flawed heroes weren’t THAT interesting. And the plot, while creating a decent build up of tension, ended with a twist that was positively absurd and unbelievable even in the context of a comic book fantasy world. While not wanting to spoil the conclusion for those still intrested in picking it up, suffice it to say that it involved the end of the cold war and the teleportation of a giant squid infused with negative mental vibes.

A deeply unsatisfying ending.

Highlight: There certainly wasn’t any writing in this book worthy of highlighting. Rorschach’s mask was pretty cool though I guess…


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