Continuing my graphic novel binge, I finished Watchmen early this week. This was actually the story which inspired me to embrace comics in the first place – I saw the movie a month or so ago, and although it was good, I was definitely left with the impression that I would get it more – enjoy the story more – if I read the book. So (because I am whimsical and spontaneous) I bought it, along with the others I have already posted about (Scott Pilgrim and The Sandman).
Watchmen is pretty much lauded as iconic, and I can see why. This is one of the cleverest pieces of writing I have read in a long while – there are so many layers to the narrative, so many self-aware references and so many intelligent themes. The story weaves together individual character threads along with an overall story arc and major commentary on social issues. To be honest, smarter people than I could probably write a whole thesis on this book, and I have neither the time, inclination nor the brain to make such an attempt, so all I’ll really say is that you should make sure you concentrate while you’re reading – and pay special attention to the pirate comic book storyline!
Apart from the incredible cleverness of the writing, my second overwhelming impression was… bleak. Pretty bleak. I mean, I love dystopia – 1984 is one of my all time faves, and The Hunger Games traumatised me in the best possible way – but the feeling I was left with after finishing this book was not one I particularly liked. The world is a pretty crappy one right now – every morning we wake up to news of another disaster (my thoughts are with the families of the Russell Square victims this morning) and instead of being escapism into a world of heroes and villains, Watchmen acts as a mirror and a magnifying glass onto the horror and darkness of our own world. I put the book down, took a breath (I mean, great writing, you guys), and felt… bleak.
I can’t overstate the intensity and intelligence of the story here. The art is amazing, too. I definitely want to read it again, more than once, simply because I feel like there’s so much in it that I will get something new out of it every time I re-read… but I’m going to need a good long break and to be in a very good mood when I read it again!
So yeah. Highly recommended. Just… read when in a good place.