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                                                                                     ALAN MOORE  AND DAVE GIBBONS -  WATCHMEN

 

            Here is a graphic Novel, (extended Comic) on the grand scale, that is guaranteed to make readers go Wow! When a masked vigilante calling himself ‘The Comedian’ is found murdered, a group of retired costume heroes comes out of retirement to seek out his killer, fearing that they might be next. They had been forced to retire after being outlawed by the authoriities they once served. Most are descendants of a previous generation of masked avengers, The Minutemen, one of who was The Comedian. (so called for finding life one big sick joke).  .

 

            The book is careful to draw a clear distinction between masked, costumed hero, and super-hero, armed with a Godlike range of powers. Only one superhero actually appears in the novel, Doc Manhattan, and he is able to exercise near unlimited Godlike powers. At one point, he takes a human girl to Mars in the blink of an Eye, creating an atmosphere for her to breath, and conjuring up his own entire city there. Manhattan is becoming so powerful and emotionally detached that he is becoming increasingly alien to the people around himself in the process.

 

            The best character however, is Rorsharch, (Raw Shark), a demented, bitter hero, who is more embittered and dangerous even than the main villain of the piece. Rorsharch wears a mask that looks like a psychiatrist’s Rorsharch inkblot test, on which the pictures swirl and blur into one another, so it never looks quite the same in any given panel. Rorsharch may be the last survivor from a ship [wreck which left him and others in a flimsy boat in shark-infested waters. 

            Moore’s book shows that the masked hero,  (someone like Batman, who does not appear in the book) has serious issues and problems, and may well be ultimately as unhinged as any of the villains he may wish to save us from. By the finale, another hero, with an Alexander The Great fixation, and a formidable array of gadgetry, takes over the World by threatening to destroy it. He is convinced that the only way to save the world is total dominion over it. He achieves this in such a way that the other characters have no option but to allow him to do so. The hero has become indistinguishable from the villain.  The title of the epic book is derived from a quotation from the Spartans asking ‘Who will watch the Watchmen?’ If our guardians and upholders of the law turn rogue, who will protect us from them?  Watchmen are a thoughtful book that takes the hero of comics to bold new heights. The scope and scale of the story makes you forget that this is a big comic. It is the War and Peace of comics. http://www.angelfire.com/comics/mooreportal/watchmen.html

 

See The Watchmen film review at http://arthurchappell.me.uk/film.review-watchmen.htm 

 

Arthur Chappell

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