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Watchmen (Absolute Edition) by Alan Moore
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Watchmen (Absolute Edition) (edition 2005)

by Alan Moore (Writer), Dave Gibbons (Illustrator)

Series: Watchmen - Alan Moore (Omnibus)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,2921810,853 (4.59)168
SOON TO BE A FEATURE FILM!This Hugo Award-winning graphic novel chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin.One of the most influential graphic novels of all time and a perennial bestseller, WATCHMEN has been studied on college campuses across the nation and is considered a gateway title, leading readers to other graphic novels such as V FOR VENDETTA, BATMAN- THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and THE SANDMAN series.… (more)
Member:tfoxwell
Title:Watchmen (Absolute Edition)
Authors:Alan Moore
Other authors:Dave Gibbons (Illustrator)
Info:DC Comics (2005), Edition: Absolute, Hardcover, 464 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:None

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Watchmen (Absolute Edition) by Alan Moore (Writer)

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English (17)  Italian (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
It’s only when we’re young that most of us dream of changing the world in a major way, then we grow up and realise the near impossibility of it. But sometimes, just sometimes it all works out and someone gets to make that profound change. Comics are merely a mass media artform, hardly the most vital of society’s cogs but they’d always been culturally significant, if sniffed at. The 1980s saw that change with work such as Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns and Art Spiegelman’s Maus changing perceptions. But the work that made most impact, that changed the perception of what could be done with comics and superhero stories was Watchmen. With Watchmen Moore dared ask the question superhero comics had essentially dodged ever since their inception; what actually makes superheroes tick?

Watchmen has become a historical monolith; a venerated monument to be studied and admired. Regularly cited as the Greatest Comic Book Ever, its status is almost beyond question. You’re almost invited to read it as if it were the tablet with the Ten Commandments on it (and frankly this Absolute Edition isn’t far off being that Big Stone Tablet with a load of Thou Shalt and Thou Shalt Nots on it). That’s a disservice to the book, because it’s something that rewards engagement rather than passive obedience to the authors. Watchmen is designed to reward the reader, full of stylistic tricks and details that reward close attention and repeated re-reading – the use of motifs, juxtaposition and meta-commentary makes this one of the richer texts. It’s not one to be rushed, it’s to be savoured.

That said, if you’re coming to this as a relatively new comic book reader you might struggle to see just why it’s considered so special. That’s because you’d be missing a lot of the detail and allusion – it’s a love letter to comics, steeped and rooted in the medium. It’s like a child approaching War and Peace – they might be able to read it and comprehend the words but much of what the book’s about would be thoroughly lost on them. And really the story itself isn’t overly remarkable or complex – it’s simply a murder investigation which spreads into a conspiracy interspersed with origin stories for each of the members of the ‘Watchmen’. What Watchmen does is add a layer of psychological complexity to superheroes and ask why grown men would dress in funny costumes. The answers aren’t always pleasant, ranging from psychosis, through pushy parenting and apparent altruism. TO Moore’s credit, he never completely praises or condemns any of the approaches, he presents them to let the reader make up their mind. In that way Watchmen’s a mirror of the reader – they’ll sympathise with their favourite characters. You could probably regard Rorschach as the ultimate pop psychology test in comics in that way. But these layers of psychological complexity are more familiar to readers now. You’ll have seen all the then new tricks Watchmen was pulling many, many times since if you’ve kept up to date. Such is the fate of innovators.

The other element that’s dated slightly is the geopolitics Watchmen portrays – it’s very much of the Reagan era and clearly disapproves of the then dominant ideology. The potshots at how America would use a genuine superman remain relevant though – how does the US use drones? Internet and phone surveillance? This is a work which not only applies an attempted realism psychologically but in terms of its world.

It’s overstating things to say that Watchmen wrote the obituary of comics, instead it’s far more appropriate to say that it stole the genre’s innocence. After you’ve looked under the carapace to see why comics work you can’t unsee it (not so much a precision engine, more a writhing, tentacled Cthuloid horror of psychology). And you force others to look at the question you’ve asked and see how they react. Moore and Gibbons essentially deflower the genre here and impart self-knowledge to it. There’s a very real sense to say that this is where comics grew up, but that might be exaggerating. A lot of people took it simply as cool stuff and used it that way (hello Zack Snyder!), missing the humour and embracing the apparent darkness. You can lead people to knowledge but can’t force them to understand.

The more I’ve read Watchmen, the more I’ve come to agree with Moore that it’s unfilmable. The basic story can be served up and told – the 2009 version was, if anything too faithful up to changing the ending – but this is a story expressly designed and told through comics. Through what only comics do. Through juxtaposition and visual stories, the process of a reader’s eyes moving left to right and down the page. The story can be retold, the visuals put on screen but it will lack the weight that the comics medium gives it. As the film showed, it renders the story celluloid thin. But what we have with the tale told as a comic is a wonder of the artform, though one that shouldn’t be approached as one.

This edition does glorious justice to the story, reprinting all the background material from the original comics and the first graphic novel edition (including original character sketches and outlines and pages of script). It’s perhaps a shame that it lacks the role playing supplement which until 2012 constituted the only other Watchmen fiction but all this is made up for by the gloriously remastered art which lends extra richness to the experience. After owning a tatty, second hand copy for years it’s like having a layer of dust scraped off. It restores some of the wonder and allows the detail Moore and Gibbons brought to the whole edifice to shine.

It’s a shame that DC saw fit to exploit the property with Before Watchmen; quite aside from the ethics of it the detail and thoroughness of the story in exploring the world mean it’s pretty much the only story you need to tell set in the world. Anything else is redundant, telling you things you already know. It cannot change this world, only restate its past. It cannot be the change that Watchmen is. It’s the work of an older, more cynical medium that perhaps can’t change the world now. But re-reading the original you can watch a world change, and a medium. And maybe be inspired ourselves, even if we're no longer young. ( )
  JonArnold | Jun 12, 2015 |
Starting in the 1930s or so, superheroes were known to be out there. When those superheroes retired, a new generation took over, until that type of vigilantism was banned in the 70s. It is now 1986 and one of the only remaining superheroes allowed to continue has been murdered.

I enjoyed this more at the start of the book. As the book went on, though, there were too many parts that I wasn't as interested in, possibly because I didn't find those particular characters as interesting, but not necessarily. This is, of course, a graphic novel, but I liked the extra text portions that were added in at the end of every comic/chapter. Those text portions included extra info about the characters, and there were times when I found those tidbits more interesting than the rest of the comic. Overall, though, I did like some of the characters and enjoyed the book while I was reading about them. I will give this one 3 stars; it was o.k. for me. ( )
  LibraryCin | Dec 22, 2013 |
Fanatically, obsessively plotted and structured. Completely morally terrifying. And sometimes searingly funny in the midst of the very bleak Reagan-era political world it occupies.Like a whole strain of great, great authors of the 20th century, Moore takes an encyclopedic knowledge of the entire history of his medium and genre and uses it to mow down his predecessors--not by bettering them, but by blowing them up into their ultimate, horrifying or ridiculous conclusions. So we get the fascist implications of depending on masked vigilantes, we get the insane hypocrisy of the prudery grafted onto comic books by censors, all the hilarious and creepy freudian and queer subtexts in comics (like Batman and Robin, say), and beyond all of that we get the insanity of nuclear brinksmanship that tainted 50 years of culture and politics, and the even greater insanity of what it looked like it might have taken to break its hold on us.I know this is over the top. But dear lord, the amount of talent and planning put into this very big comic book novella is really daunting. ( )
  Snakeshands | Jul 30, 2011 |
It took me well over a year to finish this book. No, I'm not joking.

I started reading it the week before the movie came out, back in March 2009. I read about halfway through... and felt horrible. Not about myself, but I started to get this sinking sensation about the world, the universe, about life, and I realized... the Watchmen story is SO DEPRESSING that it was affecting me and my outlook. I also think I was in a bit of a dark place going into the book, so it wasn't the right choice at the time.

So I set the book aside, and didn't come back to it until a few weeks ago. I hadn't meant to wait so long before picking it up again, but you know how life gets when there are a million books to read...

I finished the book without issue, and I have to say -- it's brilliant. The ending is so fantastic, so unexpected, so bleak, and so depressing that I can't help but continue to reflect on it time and time again. This is not a happy story. There's nothing uplifting about it. You will not come away from this thinking "well, that was jolly good, let's go for ice cream!".

But it will make you think, ache, and respond in whatever way you can -- and ultimately, that's what matters. ( )
6 vote dk_phoenix | Aug 7, 2010 |
If you are looking at this book already, you obviously have some idea of the plot of the Watchmen, and I don’t really need to review it. "Absolute Watchmen" is more of a showcase piece, and I am going to review the bonus materials that come with the graphic novel instead, because that is what differentiates this to the normal collected Watchmen novel, and this is what you would get this book for, over the cheaper Watchmen graphic novel.

Absolute Watchmen includes the twelve-part story that makes the graphic novel (obviously), plus a sampling of the draft work that Moore and Gibbons done to produce the graphic novel. What has been included is interesting to those whom enjoyed the graphic novel, and those who want to see the efforts that go into producing such a work.

There’s Moore’s after thoughts on the graphic novel “The Watchmen”, the original proposal for the graphic novel (using Charlton comics characters), character outlines, first using Charlton characters, then edited to characters that readers of Watchmen might be more familiar with, thumbnails of several pages, sketches in various stages of all the characters in the story, and Moore’s written script for two pages of the novel (the very first page and the very last), which Gibbons illustrated.

It’s hard not to be disappointed with the bonus content, really. Although the artwork and the like is quite interesting, I do not think that the added material does enough to justify the extra expense – there should have been more material. John Higgins, colourist, for example, does not even get to discuss any of his involvement in the graphic novel, and Moore only discusses some of the major themes that went into the novel in cursory detail, and so forth. The “Watchmen” story deserves a larger "making of" section than what this collection gives it, and I hope that it one day gets such treatment.

That said, the book gets five stars because of "The Watchmen" graphic novel, which is well worth reading. If I were rating the extras alone, it would get three or three-and-a-half stars. ( )
1 vote rojse | Jul 16, 2009 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Moore, AlanWriterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Delli Paoli, Maria LuisaLetteringmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Gibbons, DaveIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Higgins, JohnColoristmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Carvalho, Helcio deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martins, JotapêTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rizzi, LeonardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Rorschach's Journal. October 12th, 1985:
Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Some consider Absolute Watchmen to be a notably different work from Watchmen. There is currently a discussion in Combiners! discussing whether or not this separation is needed. Please join the discussion. Please do not combine the two works until this is resolved.
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SOON TO BE A FEATURE FILM!This Hugo Award-winning graphic novel chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin.One of the most influential graphic novels of all time and a perennial bestseller, WATCHMEN has been studied on college campuses across the nation and is considered a gateway title, leading readers to other graphic novels such as V FOR VENDETTA, BATMAN- THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and THE SANDMAN series.

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