Holiday Gift Bag: Watchmen

This isn’t so much a recommendation for something you can get the comics fan in your life — most comics fans out there either already own this or they’ve at least read it somewhere in the past. Instead, this is a recommendation for new comics readers and for movie fans. Because 2009 is definitely going to be the Year of Watchmen.

Watchmen was originally published as a limited series in 1986-87 by DC Comics and later collected as a graphic novel in 1987. It was written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons. It told a story of an alternate universe of costumed but unpowered vigilantes, how a single godlike metahuman changes the world, and how one person decides to bring the whole world together in peace. Is that telling things a bit too vaguely? Maybe so, but it’s also fun for new readers to discover the intricacies of the plot for themselves.

Our lead characters include Nite Owl, a gadget-using hero; Silk Spectre, a beautiful martial artist; the Comedian, a doomed government agent; Rorschach, a conspiracy-obsessed — but still badass — lunatic; Ozymandias, the smartest and richest man on the planet; and Dr. Manhattan, a man gifted with near-omnipotent powers but entirely detached from human emotions and concerns.

Like I said, most comics fans are very well aware of how great this story is. It also makes a great jumping-on point for new comics readers, because it demonstrates what many critics consider to be the very peak in comics storytelling — it’s a deeply nuanced and complex story, jam-packed with symbolism and bleak foreboding. It’s also a very adult story — and not just because it includes sex, nudity, swearing, and violence — this is a story told by grown-ups to grown-ups. I’m sure particularly smart kids can handle it easily, but it’s not something you wanna drop in your third-grader’s lap because it’s “just a funny book.” Alan Moore has now generally disowned the book because of his long-standing disagreements with how DC has treated him and his work.

And movie fans will probably be interested because Zach Snyder, director of “300,” plans to release a “Watchmen” movie next year, and it’s quickly become one of the most heavily anticipated films around. When the first trailer made its debut in July, demand for the graphic novel skyrocketed, and DC had to rush hundreds of thousands of new copies to print. In other words, when people see info about this movie, they want to read the comic it was based on. So if you’ve got a movie fan on your shopping list, they might appreciate getting to read the comic before the movie comes out in March.

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Go pick it up.

No Comments

  1. swampy Said,

    December 16, 2008 @ 5:07 pm

    at least it won’t be hard to find a copy—-they printed about a million copies.