Absolute Watchmen by Alan Moore

details
Title: Absolute Watchmen.
Writer(s): Alan Moore.
Illustrator(s): Dave Gibbons.
Colourist(s): John Higgins.
Letterer(s): Dave Gibbons.
Publisher: DC Comics.

Format
:
Hardcover – Absolute Edition.
Release Date: October 5th, 2005 (first published September 8th, 1987).
Pages: 464.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401207137.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★.

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Legends appear when you least expect them to. Writer Alan Moore, the wizard behind V for Vendetta, Batman: The Killing Joke, From Hell and many more, effortlessly established himself as an iconic creator whose work has managed to convey his most contemporary ideas through the comic book medium in a revolutionary fashion. Going up against universal concepts by breaking them down through symbolism and satire, he has quickly caught the attention of the world and became an important influence in popular culture as his work continues to hold incomparable relevancy to modern politics and philosophies. Amongst his greatest graphic novels is his Hugo Award-winning magnum opus Watchmen, a pivotal piece that instantly changed the comic book industry with its narrative, its themes, its characters, and its philosophical message.

What is Absolute Watchmen about? Set in an alternate reality that draws its foundations on the state of the world in the 1980s, the story is a cross-examination of the superhero concept in regard to its personal and political implications amidst an impending nuclear war. Although Richard Nixon goes on for multiple terms as the president of the United States and the United States win the Vietnam War, the central twist to this realistic tale is the existence of superheroes and their responsibility in the development of international relations and crime-fighting. While tension rises to unfathomable heights, the murder of an ex-hero point towards a larger scheme at play as vigilantes looks into the meticulous assassination of their comrades despite their illegitimacy, forbidding their activities, following the Keene Act. However, is there really a conspiracy theory at work while Soviets pursue their assault on Afghanistan and a nuclear war is within seconds of being unleashed?

Collecting Watchmen #1-12 with remastered colouring as well as bonus material including afterwords by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, this magnificent absolute edition is a must-have for all fans of this chef-d’oeuvre.

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A couple of years back, Watchmen opened my eyes to the astounding complexity of adult comic books. Writer Alan Moore tackled a subject that has grown dear to my heart ever since I was a kid and presented a realistic yet nihilistic take on superheroes that has never been accomplished before. Through his multi-layered non-linear narrative, he offers an intimate yet universal tale that looks at the madness of the world through the eyes of vigilantes who found their purpose with actions oriented towards taking the law in their own hands. Whether these heroes worked for the government or not wasn’t central to understanding the notably eye-opening idea that humankind is capable of horrors beyond our imagination. Through various intricate characters, from the elusive, compulsive, and fair-minded Rorschach to the godly, enigmatic, and introspective Dr. Manhattan, a critical commentary on the motivation of heroes is presented in a twelve-part limited series.

The stark dissection of superheroes alongside the compelling murder-mystery plot aren’t the only beautiful traits of this graphic novel. Artist Dave Gibbons also deserves just as much praise for this seminal work as his nine-panel grid configuration remains one of the most iconic elements of this story. The dialogue-less pages also encapsulate incredible emotional range and attest to the whole saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Extremely ambitious and confident, artist Dave Gibbons doesn’t hesitate in ignoring key characters to focus on the environment to help convey the strong symbolism present in the narrative. In fact, there’s amazing wordplay present throughout the story that can be analyzed to the second degree and masterfully perfects the storytelling. This also helps in illustrating some of the best transitions between panels. In the end, the artwork serves as an impeccable vessel to tell this distressing yet riveting tragedy that stands tall on its self-constructed and stunning mythology.

Absolute Watchmen is an exquisite quintessential classic masterpiece deconstructing the concept of superheroes through nihilistic lenses.


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Watchmen (2009) is the first live-action movie adaptation of the classic graphic novel and is directed by Zack Snyder. It is one of the most loyal adaptations to the source material.

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Did you know that a Watchmen HBO TV series serving as an extension to the classic graphic novel is currently ongoing? The first season began on October 20th, 2019.

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21 comments

  • It was a long while back that I read Watchmen, but it was also long after it was first published as individual issues. I read it for the same reason we talked about reading Vonnegut, it’s a classic. My reaction to Watchmen was probably pretty close to yours of Slaughterhouse Five. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think I got quite as much out of it as most folks did, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps I read it too late, perhaps I was too immature, maybe I’d been reading comics for too long and become a bit jaded at the time, maybe I wasn’t able to frame the story from the time it was written. This review shows your passion for it, so perhaps I should reread it one of these days, see if I can better appreciate it now. Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Todd. It is indeed a very heavy story that tackles a lot within one story, having multiple layers of themes and all intertwined with no necessary linearity to it all. It probably doesn’t help that each story comes with a piece of a novel that adds weight and forces the reader to focus immensely. I would definitely recommend a reread in the future, especially if it’s been a long time since there’s so much to appreciate of it.

      Like

  • Watchmen remains one of my favorite comics ever. It’s just amazing (even if I felt the pirate story was not entirely my thing and could have been shorter😉) For me, it’s one of the most thoughtful and ambitious works of popular culture. Great review, Lashaan! By the way, I’m a bit jealous of your copy 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. I know that, and also know that you HATED Azzarello and Bermejo’s prequel. I have been putting it off for a while but I think I’ll test the prequels out in 2020 just to see what I’ll think of them hahaha And yes, you’re right about the pirate story, or just all the novel tidbits after each issue; they sort of kill the flow to an already heavy chapter. Thanks for the kind words, Ola. I appreciate it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yeah, the prequel was absolutely horrible! I do wonder what you’ll think of it 😀 so I’ll be looking forward to your review!
        You’re very welcome, as the pleasure of reading is mine 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  • From the comments above I get that its’ an oldie and a favorite! Though honestly just based on the art you showed above it has one of my major pet peeves in comics: too much text in a “box”! I get lost when this happens LOL But obviously you did not have the same issues as me 😉

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  • You (ahem) ABSOLUTELY (ahem) do justice to this rightfully praised classic good sir, a wonderful review as ever. No matter how many times I’ve read Watchmen, each time it never ceases to amaze me – visually and conceptually. I believe Stan Lee was once quoted as saying it was his favourite comic and along with the Killing Joke, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing and Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns remains a constant reminder of what comics can be.

    Have you seen any of the series yet? I was pretty please with it, very faithful to the world of the comic but at the same time doing something modern with it. Doomsday Clock was enjoyable as well, despite the long delays!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Chris. I really appreciate the kind words. It is indeed an incredible graphic novel that will forever remain a favourite of mine. I’m really glad to have had the chance to read it and even more in this edition again. It never ceases to amaze me too. I’m almost compelled to try all the various editions of it now hahaha

      I haven’t checked out the series yet; I was waiting for the season to wrap up. I’ll probably review the season once I finish it though. It definitely looks promising and your comment on it makes me hopeful! I also plan on reading and reviewing Doomsday Clock when each of the collected editions is released (1 more to go…) 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Eek, I’m always so excited to find a fellow comic book lover! I’ve seen the cover for Absolute Watchmen before but didn’t know what it was about or whether it was worth reading – I’ll definitely add it to my TBR and hopefully pick it up soon. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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