watchmenI can’t stop thinking about this graphic novel. It’s not something I’d usually like- ultra-violent with a very dark vision of humanity- but there is something incredibly compelling about it.

It starts with a murder. Watchmen is the story of a group of super heroes who don’t fight crime anymore because vigilantism was outlawed. Among the many costumed regular heroes (The Comedian, Rorschach, Nite Owl), there is an actual superhero, Dr. Manhattan, who suffered a freak radiation accident and was changed, permanently. He perceives time as happening all at once and can manipulate matter in multiple dimensions. Each of the heroes has a story, some are very sad, and all of them are upset as one of their own has just been killed. Can they figure out who the murderer is before he/she strikes again?

My favorite character out of the bunch is Dr. Manhattan. “We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another’s vantage point, as if new, it may still take the breath away.” pg 27, Chapter XI. He’s nearly godlike in his capabilities but that makes it practically impossible for anyone to understand him.

My husband’s favorite is Rorschach, which I could understand, but he was far too violent for me to truly appreciate the character. I feel like there’s an underlying importance to that character though, something that I couldn’t quite grasp…I tried thinking about Rorschach as a rorschach blot for the Watchmen and it nearly broke my brain.

And the comic within the comic? Fascinating.

The Watchmen is more than a superhero story: it’s an examination of power both physical and in the heart. It’s a criticism of government, the media, and art used to manipulate others. It looks at gender roles, rape, and sexual preferences and predilections. It asks: why would a person dress up and create an alter ego in the first place? And, beyond all that, it is a mystery and a love story. There’s a lot to enjoy in here if you can get past the blood, gore, and soul crushing darkness. Recommended for an adult audience only.

A similar comic, in my mind, is The Walking Dead, Compendium 1 by Robert Kirkman. But, really, Watchmen is in a class all of its own.

Thank you for reading!

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