Watchmen by Alan Moore
Cover Concept by Lorenzo Princi, 2 March 2013


Author: Alan Moore
Artist: Dave Gibbons

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi

“Who watches the watchmen?”
Opening with a cinematic moment of a man flying through a glass window and falling (view point pulling out panel by panel) and crushing to his bloody death and followed by the nonchalant reactions of the investigating detectives, Watchmen tells us straight away, this isn't a happy place. The setting for Watchmen is dark and brooding with street gang violence set against the juxtoposition of elitist towers filled with the rich, powerful and famous in an alternate 1980s which follows the United State victory in Vietnam and the re-election of Richard Nixon who enters a third term in office. The comic medium gives us a clear visualisation of the world but Alan Moore's use of quotes from popular songs also gives the book a soundtrack adding to the very cinematic nature of Dave Gibbon's artwork.

Who are the Watchmen? Though they are never named as such, the title coming from a line from the roman poet Juvenal:rnrn"Who watches the watchmen?"rnrnThe Watchmen are the costume heroes who up until the time of the comic were a vigilante group who fought crime. Laws have since been past to outlaw the costume heroes and they unmask and slip back into society. These Watchmen aren't super heroes though, they are human men and women with very human characteristic and many flaws. The only 'super man' in the story is Dr Manhattan, a scientist who has an accident in a nuclear reactor. His powers and knowledge develop as his humanity slips away.

They story becomes a whodunit as ex-masked heroes beginning (with out falling friend from the start) are being murdered one by one. Our protagonists band together again to hunt the hunter and as the mystery unravels a much larger plot unfolds.rnrnThe comic is rightly considered as the pinnacle of the medium (or close too). The story is deep, dark, gripping, heightened and haunting. The action is intense and it's characters are thick. The use of bright colours eludes to super hero comics we are more familiar with but there is always something more sinister under the surface and Watchmen is more a reaction to rather than homage to the super hero genre of comics. The artistic style is perfect in this sense, and the awkward angles, faces covered by smoke, close ups, shadows and other little details give the comic layer upon layer of intrigue and sophistication the uninitiated may not expect from a glossy comic.