Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who watches the watchmen?

Now a major motion picture. I was going to post a review of the novel, but instead here are some stream of consciousness observations.


Alternative reality graphic novel. Gritty. Not for children. Has a reality feel about it that other graphic novels like Dark Knight don't (alcoholism, rape, homosexuality, mental illness, sociopathic tendencies, greed, sex, guilt, vigilantism, manipulation, politics, law-and-order). Circa 1980; President-for-life Nixon is featured. All the super-heroes are really just costumed adventurers (except for Dr. Manhattan [Jon] who makes every one else irrelevant). Psychological profile; rather deep for a comic/graphic novel. Characters are complex and have conflicting emotions. Among other themes the book explores the question: is peace to be obtained through any means possible? Reminiscent of the Peacemakers: declare peace or we'll kill you all (Timekeepers series).

There are a few deus ex machina moments; even though we witness Jon's origin, it remains unexplained; suspension of reality is required. Jon is a god-like creature for whom time is present as a continuum: past, present, future -- yet he is not omniscient and is ultimately manipulated by the "smartest man on earth". Jon has power, but no conscience, no moral framework for that power to operate within.

Characters: Comedian, Rorschach, Nite Owl, Ozymandius, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, Moloch (among others).

Comedian: violent, sexist, amoral, jaded, Government tool, presented as "seeing/understanding the most"
Rorschach: narrator, violent, sociopath, mother/abandonment issues, patriot, black-and-white morality
Nite Owl: sensitive, intelligent, wishy-washy, conflicted
Ozymandius: "smartest man alive", manipulative, rich, successful, Alexander the Great complex, law unto himself
Silk Spectre: sex kitten, idealistic turned jaded, rebel, emotional sounding board, representative of humanity, only link for Dr. Manhattan
Dr. Manhattan: man turned cosmic wanderer, ethereal, disconnected from humanity, god-like powers, scientific, power without conscience
Moloch: Evil arch-nemesis-turned-old-man-with-second-thoughts, pity figure
Hooded Justice, Dollar Bill, etc.: Minor characters, bit players, scenery

1 comment:

Patrick said...

I got Watchmen from the library when I heard they were making a movie out of it and marketing it as "based on the greatest graphic novel of all time."

Wow. The "greatest graphic novel of all time?" I had to check that out. Yeah. . . um. . . not so much. It was entertaining enough, but I'll take Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" any day. That's what hyperbole will get you - unreasonable expectations.


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