Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Watchmen Paperback – May 13, 2014
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"A work of ruthless psychological realism, it’s a landmark in the graphic novel medium. It would be a masterpiece in any."
–TIME, TIME MAGAZINE’s 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present
About the Author
Alan Moore is perhaps the most acclaimed writer in the graphic story medium, having garnered countless awards for works such as WATCHMEN, V FOR VENDETTA, SWAMP THING and Miracleman. He is also the mastermind behind the America's Best Comics line, through which he has created (along with many talented illustrators) THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, PROMETHEA, TOM STRONG, TOMORROW STORIES and TOP TEN. As one of the medium's most important innovators since the early 1980s, Moore has influenced an entire generation of comics creators, and his work continues to inspire an ever-growing audience.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the entire read through. I was absolutely riveted and read it in a day and a half. But I always ask myself a few questions after I finish any kind of book -- would I read it again? Do I regret reading it, even if it gave me a good ride? Was the payoff worth the effort... in short, was the content rewarding enough to justify reading for hours?
In the end, I'm glad I read it. I needed a good read and a book that didn't speak to me like I was an idiot. I can also appreciate mastery when I see it -- these characters are so real that I feel I could recognize them if I saw them on the street. In fact, this is very much a character-driven story and is, ultimately, where this graphic novel excels. Frankly, after reading so many books with characters as thin and flimsy as notebook paper, I can't tell you what a relief it is to read about characters as substantial, well-crafted, and richly complex as these. I did not read this graphic novel to find out about the plot; I wanted to know how each character was going to handle their personal crises.
But, although I am glad to have read it, I'm not sure I would ever read it again. There's a point where the "theme" of the book got so loud, so pretentious, that it broke the magic. When a theme starts to swagger about, throwing its weight around like it's the king of the roost, it inevitably begins eclipsing story and character (and as the characters are so excellent and added so much to the theme without even trying, it seemed a sad choice). Quoting Nietzsche and Bob Dylan is fine and dandy, but often it seemed like Moore was saying, "Look at how much I know! I'm high-brow; I'm in on all of the important books on the high-brow reading list." How best to put it?... it's like Watchmen couldn't stand on its own two feet. It wanted to shore itself up with philosophical catchphrases and the thoughts of other men instead of saying, "This is what I believe. This is my worldview. This is what I really am."
I feel that I am not on target with this -- not completely -- but suffice to say, the theme was too heavy. It needed to relax. Themes are like a fine perfume. Too little, and the story is cheapened; too much, and even the least asthmatic gags and chokes.
For example, at first, the "Black Freighter" subplot is a marvelous diversion and really spices up the story. It added yet another delicious layer to Watchmen, which I relished. However, after a while, I began to hate the "Black Freighter" chapters. Why? Because I got it. I got it after reading the first installment. Why did I have to keep reading about it? It only rehashed the same idea, and after a while seemed only to be included for the sake of shock value. I wasn't interested in this half-baked story with its over-the-top message and its one-sided character; I wanted to read about Rorschach and company.
Another con is the darkness of this story. Yes, there is darkness in this world; that's understandable. But to deny that there is brightness in this world is foolish, too. It's sad to me that the only bright and cheerful character in this story is painted as blind and rather stupid (honestly, who would think that Rorschach saw "a pretty flower" in his ink-blot tests?). There are also few uplifting moments.
The plot itself has been seen a thousand times before, and if it was not for its shining cast, it would not be remembered. To add insult to injury, it ends in a most ignominious fashion.
A giant mutant squid explodes on New York.
A giant mutant squid with a psychic's brain explodes on New York, sending out horrifying brain waves that make people go insane. That is an acceptable ending for this otherwise excellent tour de force?
The problem is thus: this book builds itself up as a completely sensible world directly correlating to our own, with characters that are completely realistic. The masked vigilantes are billed as real people, just physically fit and trained people, with no supernatural powers to speak of. The technological advances of this world seem sensible, what with Dr. Manhattan. Dr. Manhattan is the only quirk in this sensible, logical world, but we can accept him; we can stretch our belief enough to contain him. That's because he's the only aberration on Earth, and most people react sensibly upon seeing him -- they can't understand or accept him. We don't understand his rebirth, but it's possible not even he understands it. He's a hiccup in the laws of physics; that's okay. I can take a hiccup.
But an otherwise normal man catching a bullet in his hand and a mutant squid being teleported to New York only to explode on impact and shoot psychic brain waves at people?
To imply that a man can catch a bullet and that there are psychics implies that there are above-average human beings along the lines of Dr. Manhattan, and made me wonder if I had missed something in the first chapters of Watchmen -- were these costumed vigilantes actually, really superheroes? No, they aren't. Which only goes to show that this ending was no more than a deus ex machina, and a comical one at that.
Even more comical is the fact that someone who is supposedly the most intelligent person alive thought it was the obvious choice to solving the world's current problem, and the supposedly brilliant Dr. Manhattan accepts it with a wry smile. Now, that is a stupid and unsatisfying ending! This issue only ties in with the problem of Watchmen's overbearing theme: is there substance underneath the armchair philosophy? Would anyone in their right mind think that exploding one mutant squid is going to make everything better? Even if you did get to pursue this plan of making the people of Earth think that an alien attack was imminent, how would you keep it up? Who would continue your little plot after you died? Would anyone that intelligent, with that kind of knowledge of history, really believe that such idiotic activity could lead to everlasting peace?
Here's the problem: humans are transient and selfish by nature, and they never learn from history. History will tell this to you over and over again until it gets hoarse. There will never be everlasting peace as long as there's something to squabble over. Nor is there ever an easy answer to anything. Thus, when Watchmen finally ends, all neatly tied up in a bow, it's silly. It does not feel like the world has been saved or even that world politics have reached another plateau; it feels like the world is seconds from destruction -- either from nukes or an overzealous "protector."
Please don't get me wrong. Although I harshly criticize some of Watchmen's elements, I would recommend this graphic novel. It's an intelligent and fun read. The characters are sharp and realistic and make the read worthwhile. The story fumbles in the end, but it's riveting otherwise. Read it, and make up your own mind about it.
Sorry to be derogatory. As someone who reads real books seeing people heap this praise on a comic book is kind of absurd. If someone was that serious about their story I can only assume they would pick a different format. I know college age graphic artists will argue, but comics aren't going to be replacing Hemingway anytime soon. Old man and the sea would probably be better if there were small pictures and word bubbles everywhere.
"This is the book that changed an industry and challenged a medium. If you've never read a graphic novel, start with Watchmen," boasts the back cover of the book, along with declarations that Watchmen is a "brilliant piece of fiction," "a masterwork representing the apex of artistry," and even "the greatest piece of popular fiction ever produced." Wow. Time Magazine rated Watchmen as one of the top 100 English-language novels since 1923.
These people all need to grow up and start reading real books. Watchmen is a joke.
Watchmen isn't my first graphic novel, either. I was an avid comic reader and collector as a kid... Then I grew up. But I returned to comics now and then through high school, college, and even my early post-college twenties. I respect the medium and was fully prepared to like Watchmen. But it just sucks. It's stupid, childish, totally outdated, and takes itself far too seriously. It is a comic book trying way too hard to be literature, and failing miserably.
There is one statement of truth on the back cover of the book: "The would-be heroes of Watchmen have staggeringly complex psychological profiles." This is the one saving grace of this otherwise completely unworthy effort. The problem is that author Alan Moore (whose other credits include V for Vendetta) chose to examine these "staggeringly complex" psyches through a hokey superhero prism. There are tons of comic-book in-jokes and what I think are actually veiled statements about adults who read super-hero comic books -- which is sort of funny, I guess. But just when I would get back into the book, I'd be rudely reminded that I'm a adult man -- a father -- reading a comic book, and it would jar me out of my enjoyment of the characters.
Now some other problems: I read through Chapter 1 fully enjoying the book, and then I got to the bonus material at the end of the chapter. In this case, it was excerpts from the "tell-all" book one of the characters wrote. How completely boring, pointless, and lame! The amateurish prose shows why Alan Moore should stick to comics and why this most certainly is NOT one of the 100 greatest novels since 1923! Three or four chapters in, I stopped reading this bonus material -- which cut my reading time practically in half -- and just roughly skimmed it, never finding anything of interest or value when I did. Similarly, there's a kid reading a comic within the comic -- a pirate story -- throughout the first eleven chapters of Watchmen. Sometimes this goes on and on for entire pages, interspersed with dialog taking place in the main story. This got confusing and, again, pointless, so I stopped reading it, too.
Now let me get to the heart of the matter; the ridiculous plot. Some mild spoilers may be contained herein, but I'll try to be good: This was written in 1985 and takes place in an alternate 1985 -- wherein Richard Nixon has been re-elected time and time again (constitutional amendment and everything) and the U.S. is still at the verge of war with the USSR. Only, in this alternate 1985, the U.S. won the war in Vietnam -- with the help of "Jon," a god-like super being. The idea presented here is that Jon is the only thing stopping the U.S. and USSR from initiating World War III, and indeed, when Jon decides to vacate Earth for Mars, tensions mount and the nations begin preparing for war...
Do you see the problem here?
In real life, there was no Jon. How can taking Jon away make war inevitable when there was no Jon in real life? Maybe I'm missing something? And secondly, Jon can see the future, and yet the authors lacked the prescience to see that Communism was doomed to fail... The USSR was extinct within five years of this book's publication, and thus nuclear war was not statistically inevitable -- anyone who'd ever read Mises's SOCIALISM would have known this. As one final, lame joke, Robert Redford is supposed to be running for president in 1988 -- "but nobody would want a cowboy-actor for president" -- hardy har har.
Finally, I'll take a swipe at the art. Have you ever seen a CrossGen comic? If so, you'll realize there's nothing special about the art in Watchmen. Very mediocre.
In summation, I guess I'm glad I read this "top 100 novel," just so I can say, definitively, that it's not. But unless you have a similar goal, or you're just a comic-book nerd, reading Watchmen will be a waste of your time. Read a real book.