Posts Tagged ‘watchmen’

Well, we’ve reached the end of the line. The end of the rope, more like it. The bell does indeed toll for me, and I figure there isn’t much of a better way to go than to bring it full circle, and evaluate the (sizable) list of graphic novels I’ve chewed through this semester and semesters prior. I wouldn’t call myself an expert on graphic novels by any means, more of an enthusiast. Thanks to Scott McCloud, I know how to analyze them a bit better, and I know a bit more about the components that make them up. Ms. Fish has expressed an interest in writing for graphic novels – I wonder how one breaks into that. Maybe that’ll be my next pursuit of knowledge.

Regardless, I figured after hours of reading, I would go back through the list with my newfound knowledge. Here are my (personal) favorite top 5 graphic novels of all time.

#5: Watchmen by Alan Moore

Moore

I struggled with whether or not to throw Watchmen on this list. It’s by far the longest and one of the most difficult graphic novels I’ve read, regardless of having capes in it. It’s some seriously dark, heavy stuff. Watchmen tackles what happens when superhero teams fall out, the United States government bans vigilantism, and is essentially a “whodunnit?” murder mystery between superheroes. Couple that with the constantly recurring theme of “who watches the Watchmen?,” in other words, who polices superheroes, and you’ve got quite a lot going on in this one.

Part of the reason I debated throwing it on the list was sheer length: this one is long from beginning to end. This is by no means a 20 minute breeze. It’s tough to press through. The cast of characters is diverse and infinitely messed up, each “super”hero is a human at the core with problems and dark personal places they are trying to run from. Another reason I considered axing this one from the list is simply because the author, Alan Moore, has said some pretty outlandish and foolish things in recent years about the recent surge of comic books and their popularity. Though, I felt it would be unfair to punish the work for the creator’s flaws, so it made it. This is not for the feint of heart.

#4: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

Jen Wang 2

To be honest, I didn’t expect In Real Life to make the list. It had a beautiful and charming art style, but was a relatively quick read. However, the more I chewed on it, the more I grew to appreciate it. In Real Life is about a lot of things: teenage nerdiness, video games, other cultures, economics, social plight, and friendship. There isn’t an overly sexy or overly homely protagonist: she’s a normal, everyday girl who happens to be into some dorky stuff.

In Real Life landed on my list because it portrays real gaming by real people, and doesn’t propagate the “gamer girl” stereotype. Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang have done their fair share of gaming, or at the very least, research on it. There aren’t any complete jumps in logic to make the “video game” segments of the novel work. TV shows and movies are infamous for absolutely butchering any attempts to include video games in a storyline. They’re often unrealistic in terms of actual games, and I can’t stand when some actor sits with a 360 controller and pounds on the buttons like they’re playing a game.

Being a gamer with an MMO gaming girlfriend, I appreciated these details. Short as it may be, In Real Life makes my list.

#3: Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

Spiegelman

If there is a literary canon for graphic novels, Spiegelman’s Maus is definitely at the top of the list. The book is both about Art’s as well as his father’s tale: his father retells how he became part of and survived the holocaust, and Art is depicted grappling with the seriousness of the subject and frequently butting heads with his father. Their relationship is somewhat strained, but still loving.

Maus’s art style is simplistic, but highly effective. Different ethnicities are depicted as different animals: Jews are mice, Nazis are cats, the Polish are pigs, etc. etc. The animal characters allow Spiegelman to play with symbolism he wouldn’t have access to otherwise: there are cats wearing mouse masks and things of that nature all over the novel. Obviously, the subject matter is an extremely heavy one, couple that with the tale being true, and you have a must-read for anyone looking to break into graphic novels. Think it’s all superheroes and capes? Think again.

#2: This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki

Tamaki

This One Summer is a novel I was introduced to during this semester, and of the new ones I’ve read, it is most definitely my favorite. It’s a coming-of-age tale between two teenage girls at their own little summer retreat, but it’s so much more than the quintessential “both characters learn a lesson and have a happy ending.” It deals with some pretty heavy themes: miscarriage, teen pregnancy, friendship, maturity, societal pressure, and awkward first love. It has its feel good moments, but ultimately, it’s about relationships between people as you age and mature. Friends, parents, etc. People grow apart. They come together, Adolescents discover things about themselves that they aren’t sure how to feel about.

The thing that really sold This One Summer for me besides the unique story, was the phenomenal artwork. This very well might be my favorite artwork in a graphic novel, bar none. The whole thing feels very dreamy, memory-esque, but never bleak or dark. The art style is highly detailed, yet flows effortlessly into simplicity when the moments call for it. The dark color used is a shade of blue, rather than black, avoiding the noir-like flashback feeling. I understand it also made Dr. Elisabeth Ellington’s list of the top books in 2014. I see why.

#1: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Millar, Klaus Johnson, and Lynn Varley

Johnson

This isn’t your mom and dad’s Batman with Adam West in it. No, no, no. This is a much darker, and a much different take than one we’ve seen in television or movies before. The Dark Knight Returns follows Bruce Wayne 8 years after having given up being Batman. Gotham is more run-down than ever, dominated by gangs and half-witted politicians, with news anchors of FOX News caliber constantly spewing nonsense about whether it’s Batman’s fault crime exists in the first place. When Bruce reaches a breaking point, he’s back in the game, but there’s a problem: he’s old.

He’s old, and his body only has so much left to give to this kind of work. Robin is long gone, and Batman must work his way back into favor with the people. Batman is more brutal than ever in this one, fighting to survive rather than just to dish out justice. He’s fighting a passive public, incompetent police force / politicians, and most of all: his own doubts. Things get even more jumbled up when a teenage girl in a Robin costume saves him from certain death. Batman here isn’t just about beating the bad guys: it’s a social commentary from the 80’s. The president is a grinning fool who sees only his own agenda to forward, the media is filled with fluff and pointless debates, the public either blame Batman for everything or depend completely on him for protection, there is no winner in this one. This is all before “gritty superhero reboots” were all the rage. This one pushed the Bat’s envelope to somewhere it had never been before.

In case you’re wondering, a few familiar faces do show up. In particular, one with a ridiculous grin, and another with a red cape flowing from the back…

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Well folks, that does it for me. As I said, this is my list of personal favorites. Pick and choose as you see fit. I would recommend any of these as a read in a half second. I think my list really reflects the diversity that can be found in graphic novels: we’re not living in a world of solely capes and superheroes. There are graphic novels on nearly every subject under the sun. You’ve just gotta look for them. We may have reached the end of the road, but the journey isn’t over for me.

Catch you all on the flip side.

Amata

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” – Winston Churchill

Some of you, my professor included, may have noticed my lack of a blog post on a professional development book. truth time: I didn’t read one! My week was insane, and I kinda didn’t wanna read it because as much good stuff as I’m sure was in there, teaching strategies, at least right now, are not my bag. MOVING ON

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30 books. 30 books is what I’ve read between January and today, if you count some rather sizable graphic novels and some over-arching comic books story arcs (a.k.a spanning several issues). For some time now, I had been down on myself for not doing as much reading as one would expect from a literature major. The classics were wearing me out, the 5 page papers were driving me insane, and I had had it up to here -invisible line- with obscure poetry about a certain red-f’cking-wheelbarrow. And just then.. a light at the end of the tunnel – an excuse to read novel after novel, not necessarily as brooding and complex as any Scarlet Letter, but much more readable, and definitely more relatable. Hell, sign me up!

And sign up I did, sign up for an “A” contract in a class called “Adolescent Literature”. After getting a look at a reading list including the likes of The Outsiders, the Hunger Games, and some graphic novels I’d never heard of, another class of reading Walden could kiss my happy, anti-transcendentalism ass. Thanks to this class, I’ve done some things I would not have before – such as start a Twitter feed, and this blog page! No one wants to hear the dumb crap I have to spew, I thought to myself. What good is a blog past me just talking to myself?
Little did I know – these blogs and tweets and crazy technological wonders were to be used as part of a learning platform – to network with other human beings. Damn! What a concept! And here I was thinking the internet was around for little more than cat videos and obscure, brooding facebook statuses (SARCASM).

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This class is unlike any I’ve taken before, in the combined sense that I not only enjoyed what was required reading (most of the time), but doing my homework was a bit of a relief. Being forced to blog every week means having to regurgitate my thoughts about a book or a theme, and if I thought the author was a jackass or the book was pretentious, being able to say so for the world to see felt kinda good (still waiting on Sherman Alexie to explain to me how owning a kindle makes me a fucking elitist. Genius.) If I thought a book was awesome, being able to compare reasons why with someone else was also awesome. I wish in-class meetings had either been more frequent or had more people, but that kind of thing happens with an online medium. I still managed to get some good back-and-forths going with people, and this blog has forced me to pick back up a once-frequent medium of posting angry things on the internet. While it’s not fiction writing, it is something. I’ve decided that I’m going to start calling myself a writer. Not pretentiously, mind you, and not in the sense of “I hang around coffee shops and write” writer. But it’s something I do, and it’s something I do well. Why not take the title? I feel like I meet the qualifications.

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With such a comprehensive reading list, one is forced to gain some perspective outside of the (typical) middle-class, white American adolescence. I do not know what it’s like to be an indian on a reservation, to be a raped teenage girl, a (fabulously) gay man, or anything else of the sort… and being able to glance into that lifestyle, even for just a little bit, broadens an otherwise small horizon. I won’t lie, when I first heard “adolescent lit”, I thought of some rinse-and-repeat franchise like A Series of Unfortuante Events or Goosebumps, I hadn’t considered works like The Hunger Games. This kind of literature can provide an escape point or a point of identification for adolescents – I’m just wondering where the drop off is between “young adult” and “adolescent”. Plus, what exactly is “middle grade”? Problems are not  specific to a grade level. I come from Alliance where parents can’t buy their children toys off of infomercials because they aren’t old enough to call the hotline – I know a thing or two about early onset problems. Problems in adolescent literature aren’t problems exclusive to adolescents, they just come from different perspective. Plus, every parent in every adolescent novel or horror story for that matter is a total douche. If you had just believed your kid in the first place, maybe you wouldn’t have gotten abducted by aliens.

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Above: Somewhat related.

When it came to my independent reading for this class, I tried my best to convince my fellow readers and compatriots that Superman and Captain America had just as much literary complexity as lame-ass Arthur Dimmesdale or Charles Dickens’s Pip. A good 3/4ths of my independent reading had to do with graphic novels and comic books, and the accompanying blogs were me trying to convince a class of mostly women to pick up a comic book. Did I fail? Most likely. But luckily, Dr. Ellington included 2 graphic novels in the syllabus, so I can hop on the bandwagon of the success of that week. This all culminated in my inquiry project being my own syllabus for a graphic novels course. If I changed even one mind, I call that success. If I didn’t, well, you can’t win ’em all. In fact, you lose most of them it seems. Seriously though. Break the stereotype. Comics aren’t just for teenage boys, aren’t just for nerds, aren’t just for dorks. Yeah, shows like “Comic Book Men” don’t do us comic readers any favors, but come on. Dudes dig chicks who read comic books! Fact.

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So I guess the question that remains now is will I continue to spill my brain droppings all over this page, even recreationally? It’s hard to say. I guess that really depends on if anyone else does. I definitely plan on continuing to skulk my Twitter account. I dunno if I’ll continue to update it, but too many people share too much cool stuff for me to just ignore it all together.

Either way, if you’re reading this, thank you for joining me on this ride. I don’t suspect it’s over – but for right now, we need to head to a rest stop. My brain can’t handle much more responsbility.

Excelsior!

ENG355 GRAPHIC NOVELS & COMIC BOOKS
(click ^here^ to download this syllabus as a .doc)

Professor: Dr. Jeffrey McFarland

Office: Admin 666

Office Hrs: Tues Thurs 12-2 or by appointment

Phone: 555-555-5555

Email: pretend.emailaddress@eagles.csc.edu (putting your e-mail up online is a good way to get spam)

Class Meets: MW 2-3:15

As you can see, I have memorized this utterly useless piece of information long enough to pass a test question. I now intend to forget it forever. You’ve taught me nothing except how to cynically manipulate the system. Congratulations.”

– Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes infamy

Course Description:

Personally, I hated the term “graphic novel”. To me, graphic novel was just a “politically correct” term stuffy literary critics made up in an attempt to mask the fact that they were actually reading something a lot of adults would consider childish: a comic book! After further study, however, I acknowledge that there is a difference between the two – but neither carries less weight than the other! The objective of this course is to take a medium of writing often disregarded by many readers and attempt to demonstrate its ability to stand toe-to-toe with some of the greatest literary classics. The graphic novel or comic book consists of the sequencing and melding together of visual images along with writing. The presence of brightly-colored superheroes donning capes and tights often bring the comic book under fire, but with the right material, capes and costumes can stand for much larger issues. Through graphic novels and comic books, we will examine and discuss several diverse themes relevant around the world, including, but not limited to, governmental power and dystopia (V for Vendetta, Superman: Red Son), gang violence and justice (The Dark Knight Returns, Yummy), the complexities of everyday life (Calvin and Hobbes, Everything We Miss), and struggles arising in cultures not our own (Maus, Persepolis). We will take a look at what makes certain comic strips able to stay relevant and endure the test of time while other literature fades (Garfield), all the way up to asking at what point a comic truly becomes a “graphic novel” (Watchmen). We will not only be examining the writing in these novels, but also the artwork. Why do artists position panels in the way that they do? Why are certain colors used in lieu of others? These questions tag-teamed with traditional literary questions provide levels of depth and complexity not offered in some classic texts. We will be asking questions such as, is reading a novel and reading a comic book the same to your brain? Are comic books any worse for you than some novels? By exploring thoughts and ideas often tackled by classic and modern literature alike through the eyes of the graphic novelist, our goal is to not only understand the graphic novel as a serious literary contender, but also to discover an alternative route to the truths that literature can provide us besides just the traditional wall-of-words.

Required Reading:

Brosgol, Vera. Anya’s Ghost. ISBN 1596435526

Busiek, Kurt. Marvels. ISBN 078514286X

David, Peter. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born. ISBN 0785121447

Davis, Jim. 30 Years of Laughs & Lasagna. ISBN 0345503791

Hinds, Gareth. Beowulf. ISBN 0763630233

Hinds, Gareth. The Odyssey. ISBN 0763642681

McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. ISBN 006097625X

Millar, Mark. Civil War: A Marvel Comics Event. ISBN 0785121781

Millar, Mark. Superman: Red Son. ISBN 1401201911

Miller, Frank. The Dark Knight Returns. ISBN 1563893428

Moore, Alan. Watchmen. ISBN 0930289234

Moore, Alan. V for Vendetta. ISBN 140120841X

Neri G. Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty. ISBN 1584302674

Pearson, Luke. Everything We Miss. ISBN 1907704175

Satrapi, Marjane. The Complete Persepolis. ISBN 0375714839

Siegel, Mark. Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid Of The Hudson. ISBN 1596436360

Spiegelman, Art. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. ISBN 0141014083

Watterson, Bill. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes. ISBN 0836218051

Attendance/Participation Policy:

You guys are adults and should be responsible enough to show up to a class that you signed up for. Whether or not I take attendance points will depend on the frequency of absences. You are the ones paying to take the class, not me. I expect you to show up to class, have the material read, and be ready to participate in in-class discussions. This class will be fun, we want you and your input there! That being said, more than 2 unexcused absences will incur my wrath, and your grade will most likely begin to reflect this. I understand that things come up – so long as you e-mail me and don’t have a grandma who’s sick every week, I can be pretty lenient.

Weekly Assignments (Blogging):

Besides just having to read the material, each week you will have for an assignment a blog post (on WordPress.com) reflecting upon the reading material. Any thoughts, connections, concerns, or questions you had raised by the text will be brought up in your blog. I had originally considered making you maintain a weekly reading journal, but I think it would be better if you were able to see and comment on each other’s thoughts.

These weekly assignments are to make sure that you are in fact doing the reading you claim to be doing, and so that we may get some decent use out of the internet besides cat videos and Facebook walls. One word of caution – read the material. I will be able to tell if you’ve read or if you’re flying by the seat of your pants: you can’t bullshit a bullshitter.

Weekly Blogging Requirements:

  • 600 words at the least.

  • Each post must contain 2 links you found interesting or relevant to the material

    • These can be anything: another blog, news articles, quirky youtube videos

    • Links can be either included in the post or attached at the bottom

  • Comment on at least three fellow classmate’s blog posts (*groan*)

    • These responses have no requirement, but “great post” probably won’t cut it.

NOTE: A blog is a public medium. Once your thoughts are out there, they can’t be reeled back in, so be at least a little wary of what you say. Preferences can be set to restrict people’s comments, but that doesn’t change the fact that almost anyone can see what you have written: employers, authors, professors, students, etc. etc.

Your blog is yours, so make it your own! Almost any personalization, any thought, idea, question, comment, concern, complaint is up for grabs. Think of this less like homework and more like a chance for you to spill the innards of your brain! (gross)

Final Creative Project:

You will have a creative project due the week before finals that can entail almost anything so long as it is relevant to a work or a theme that we have discussed at some point during the semester. I’ve seen it all in my day: YouTube trailers and movies, Minecraft models of locations in books, songs written, cakes baked, pictures taken.. your imagination is the only real cap on this. If you’re unsure about a project or a topic, run it by me and I’ll try to get the ball rolling. This is your chance to do something cool with the subject matter we’ve dealt with. Seeing as how I’m being pretty relaxed about what this project entails, please don’t half-ass it. Why would you ever want to half-ass self expression? This project can be worth up to 10% of your final grade, and you have all semester to decide on what it is. Fair enough? We will present our final projects the week before finals, using whatever time is remaining to review for the final.
Wait, what final?

Mid-Terms and Finals:

There will not be a mid-term in this class. I don’t feel like putting one together, and you don’t feel like taking one. Take the free time to read ahead (or do some independent reading!) The final will be composed of a single, 5-page essay question asking you to identify the presence and the relevance of a theme or themes found in multiple works we have read this semester. More details will be made available to you in class and online as we continue down the line. We will not meet in-class on the day of the final. Instead, your essay will be due by the end of the regular time window in which we would have taken a final exam.

In-Class Behavior:

Turn cell phones off or on vibrate only. Don’t spend the entire class period looking at your crotch – either you’re texting or doing something far worse, and either way, it shouldn’t be happening in class. If you need to take a phone call or a message, step into the hall in an incognito fashion. Laptops, Kindles, and other digital devices are allowed, and as much I would prefer that you use them for strictly educational purposes, if (when) you’re going to use them to browse tumblr, please be discreet and don’t disrupt the class.

If the digital devices get out of control, colleagues of mine have suggested an interesting idea: giving students extra credit when they catch others goofing off with their devices. As much as I don’t want to resort to that, it would be interesting to see how well you all mesh as a unit – don’t test me!

Getting a Hold of Me:

My (fictional) phone number and e-mail address are available at the top of this syllabus. I would prefer if you insist on using my number that you text me, unless it’s a life or death situation, in which case feel free to call me. No drunk calls or texts. I will not bail you out.

Late Work:

Weekly assignments are due preferably by Friday at midnight, but no later than Monday at class time. All I’m asking is a blog post and a handful of related links, blogs posted later than class time on Monday will be rewarded with an “Incomplete”. If you have a (damn) good reason to need more time to complete an assignment, you can contact me at least 24 hours before the assignment is due and ask for an extension. Catastrophic failure of the internet connection due to a snow storm is acceptable. Partaking in a Game of Thrones marathon and completely forgetting about your homework, however awesome, is not.

Escape Clause:

If for whatever reason you are not totally enthralled by my hilarious sarcasm or are not prepared for the reading load this class entails, the class can be dropped and taken again at a later semester. Word of warning: the required reading list will most likely be jumbled around in future semesters. Information about dropping a course and deadlines can be obtained at http://www.csc.edu/registrar/withdrawal.csc or call the Registrar’s Office.

Academic Honesty:

Plagiarism will not be tolerated. I’m not going to give you examples of what plagarism is and is not. If you truly don’t know what encompasses plagarism, Google is your friend. As they say, “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Plagiarized work will be returned to students marked “Unsatisfactory” and students will be placed on a probationary period of grading. Students who plagiarize more than once are in danger of failing the course. Students caught plagiarizing will be subject to discipline, as per campus policies outlined in the CSC Student Handbook. Cite your sources, don’t steal other people’s work, don’t reuse old work of yourself or another. Simple.

Nondiscrimination Policy/Equal Opportunity Policy:

Chadron State College is committed to an affirmative action program to encourage admission of minority and female students and to provide procedures which will assure equal treatment of all students. The College is committed to creating an environment for all students that is consistent with nondiscriminatory policy. To that end, it is the policy of Chadron State College to administer its academic employment programs and related supporting services in a manner which does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, national origin, age, religion, disability, or marital status. Student requests for reasonable accommodation based upon documented disabilities should be presented within the first two weeks of the semester, or within two weeks of the diagnosis, to the Disabilities Counselor (Crites 338).

Disclaimer:

The instructor reserves the right to make changes in the syllabus at any time (but will not be so imposing as to not let you know about said changes). Any changes made will not modify the objectives (or expectations) of the course.

Who watches the Watchmen?

If anyone came up to me and asked me to choose a graphic novel to teach in a class full of kids who have never picked up a comic before in their lives, I’m not 100% sure Watchmen would be #1 on my list. Granted, it would depend on what grade level we’re talking about, but Watchmen is a work with enough layers in it that, off the bat, it could possibly scare some people away from further pursuing comic books ..Wait, I’m supposed to be arguing in favor of reading this, aren’t I? Okay, okay, let me try again: if someone who was a fan of literature, particularly gripping, true-to-life, and even dark literature walked up to me and asked me to choose a graphic novel to usher them into the world of comics.. Watchmen would be pretty damn high up on the list of recommendations, just short of Marvel’s “Civil War” and Frank Millar’s “The Dark Knight Returns”.

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Why should someone who doesn’t read comic books read Watchmen?

I’m sure some of my audience members are pretty tired of me raving about comic books, so let me explain to you why fans of reading should look into Watchmen as a true, legitimate “graphic novel”. First off, “graphic novel” to me is a political term. It’s a term we use to dress up the word “comic” in its Sunday best, so people won’t scowl at it and turn up their noses. And for the most part, I hate the term – but here, it truly applies. Watchmen has the length, the social commentary, and the critical acclaim to earn my calling it a “graphic novel”. Quoting Wikipedia, Watchmen was the only graphic novel to appear on Time‘s 2005 “All-TIME 100 Greatest Novels” list. If you are put off of comic books because of the cartoony costumes, the bright colors, and the seemingly always light-hearted “good guys save the day” approach.. then Watchmen may just be right up your alley.

Watchmen could be successful utilized in history classes, philosophy classes, communications classes, and of course your literature classes. It contains more layers in it’s 12-issue initial run than any of the Twilight books stacked together. The very serious issues of nuclear war, ethical treatment of criminals, the degeneration of our society, and our tendency towards “hero worship” is all examined under a microscope, with plenty of graphic material to boot. The book tackles the main idea that, if we place all of our faith into a choice few people, who will police them? More importantly, how will we ever learn to solve our own problems? Though the discussion topic here is superheroes, this is something we do in our modern day lives. The President, Congress, the military – we expect these people to solve each and every problem we have without flaw. When will we instead rely on our own capabilities? The people we put up on pedestals are human too, so when we place all of our eggs in their metaphorical basket, they are destined to fail.

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The Characters, and why they aren’t your typical Supermen:

The heroes of Watchmen still don the occasional ridiculous costume (or in once instance, none at all), but the spandex and the bright colors are by no means the focus here. In an alternate history where vigilantism has been outlawed and the Cold War is still roaring strong, our heroes are above all human, and save one character, none of them are all that super. Each character has their own distinct personalities and flaws, and serves as a commentary on the society around them.

  • Dr. Manhattan was caught in an accident that involved molecular tampering – and was granted god-like power over matter as a result. He simultaneously exists in all spaces and times at once, and he constantly has to wrestle with whether he is still human. More importantly, if he should still care at all about these creatures that he should squash with the blink of an eye. He is essentially the living doctrine preventing WWIII, being one of the two heroes working under the U.S. Government.
  • The Comedian is a nihilist with a pension for killing the bad guys. Unlike his counterparts, he has discovered the meaning to life: there isn’t one! Life is just a big, dark joke, and the sooner people embrace that, the sooner they will be able to enjoy what little time they have on this meaningless dirtball of a planet. The Comedian’s pension for death has him as the 2nd of two heroes working under the U.S. Government.
  • Rorschach is a man with a deeply disturbed past who skulks the streets at night killing low-level scumbags: drug peddlers, rapists, killers. He is one of the only Watchmen to continue operating outside the law, and he never compromises. Ever. Like the ink blots he dawns on his face, the world for Rorschach is black and white. End of story.
  • The Nite Owl is an everyman with nearly limitless funds who serves as a Batman-type character (without the tragic past). He wrestles with a mid-life crisis unlike anyone has seen before: he hung up his cowl when the law asked him to, but now what does he have to do with his life? The Nite Owl as a persona is all that keeps him from being a boring, average everyman.
  • The Silk Spectre is the only female member of the Watchmen, having (begrudgingly) inherited the mantle from her mother. She is the lover to Dr. Manhattan, and is often snide and snappy with her fellow Watchmen, seeming to only want to lead a normal life.
  • Ozymandias is possibly the world’s smartest man, and one of the only Watchmen to retire before it was required by the government. He has utilized his intellect to start one of the most successful business corporations in the world, but how does a man who is smarter than everyone else on the planet connect to other people?

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So is there a point to all of this? Why should someone read this?

My bottom line is that Watchmen should be read because it’s a complex work. If it were a novel without the graphic part, I feel like it would fit right in with naturalist works like those of Jack London or Ernest Hemingway. Maybe that sounds crazy, but this novel tackles some heavy material. Compromise being the difference between life and death to a man who never compromises; World War 3 being prevented only by the presence of a single man in the entire world, mid-life crisis, abandonment issues from having no father or an abusive mother, and being the smartest / loneliest man on the earth. The outlook is bleak for these characters and this world. Is there even a point in trying to save a world that is so rotten to the core by human corruption and filth? What if you approach it like it is; just a big joke? These are the questions one is dealt when reading Watchmen, and they will weigh in heavily on your soul when you are through.

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Besides, doesn’t this seem more interesting than reading The Scarlet Letter or The Grapes of Wrath? If you can confront real-world issues in ways that don’t put real-world people to sleep, don’t you have a responsibility to do as much?