by Alan Moore (writer), Dave Gibbons (illustrator/letterer) and John Higgins (colorist)
Watchmen is a graphic novel, originally released as 12 monthly comic books, and then combined in book format. As a graphic novel, Watchmen was something of a watershed moment for graphical storytelling. The story, encompassing an alternate reality in which superheroes actually existed but had to deal with the every-day niceties of the "real world", was very "adult" in nature. Alan Moore was and is a fan favorite comic book writer, and with artist Dave Gibbons, Moore created a wholly original world for his story -- one filled with both darkness (gritty, noirish scenes) and light (hopeful characters, fighting for what's right). The main storyline, about a series of ostrasized retired superheroes who are being killed off, is interspersed with scenes from a comic book being read inside the context of the Watchmen universe. The cast is large, and multi-layered. Moore is able to cast an examining eye on the prototype superhero characters, such as Batman or Superman, and imagine what a character like that would be like in real life. Some of the characters are unforgettable -- particular the omnipotent but amorla Dr. Manhattan, and the seedy, violent Rorschach. This graphic novel has it all -- mystery, romance, science fiction, character growth, history, and thought-provoking questions of right and wrong. My only complaint, both when I read this during its original release and when I reread it before the release of the recent movie adaptation, is that the artwork is at times unpleasant to look at. But on the whole, this is a groundbreaking work that anyone who's interested in comic book history should not miss! [Note: Though currently marketed for Teens, and located in the Young Adult collection at the library, this storyline does deal with mature themes, and may not be for all young readers.] -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library
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