This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced one fantasy author.
by Alan Moore
Someone is killing masked heroes. But who could it be? Since society banned super heroes some years back, the remaining super villains are all too old, dying off or being murdered themselves.
Thus is the basic beginning plot of the graphic novel Watchmen. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Watchmen takes place in an alternate universe of the 1980s in which Nixon is still president and technology is slightly advanced over what we have in the real world. Oh, yeah, and they have super heroes. Actually, all but one could be called masked heroes but not super heroes because they don’t have any real super powers but are just great with their fists and have some special gadgets; but then you have Dr. Manhattan, who is the most powerful being on Earth, practically a god.
All of this will sound familiar if you’ve seen the movie version of Watchmen. But if all you know is the movie, then you’re missing out on a lot. Yes, I’ll grant you the movie isn’t bad, and it has quality special effects, fair acting (sometimes actually good acting) and the plot is okay.
But the graphic novel version is by far superior when it comes to character development and plotting. You get to know the characters quite a bit more, and for the most part these are complex characters, not just cookie cutter figures. Also, while the plots between the film version and the graphic novel are quite similar, they also are quite different, especially near the climax.
And then there are tons of sub-plots and side stories and … and just little things in the background … that the movie doesn’t touch upon.
I won’t say Watchmen is my all-time favorite story told in a graphic format. Neil Gaiman has earned that, in my opinion. But Watchmen comes darn close, and it’s told in a more mainstream (thus accessible) fashion than many other great graphic novels.
Up next: Ancient Inventions