*Insert Joke About Blue Wang Here*
Milo here, still recovering from that CGI blue wang.
I was gonna start by apologising for all the Korn love lately from ol’ Reubey-Toobs, but it seems you’re all in the same boat, Jason, Mage, so I’ll guess I’ll shut up. On the other hand, I think Korn are bit EURGH, but that’s just me.
After checking out the alright, not amazing, but alright Zack Snyder film, I was inspired to pick up the game-changing graphic novel once again and, golly goodness, does it still hold up, boi.
But what else can we expect from Alan Moore who, along with Rick Rubin, the ghost of Giant Haystacks and your dad, is part of a secret group of bearded people who make the world better. He’s also the clever little pickle that wrote such actual flippin’ classics like V For Vendetta, From Hell, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen and The motherflippin’ Killing Joke, so we know he’s a bit bloody good. That list of greatness aside, Watchmen is still, almost 30 years later, considered one of, if not, the pinnacle of the graphic novel medium and, while I prefer The goddamn KILLING JOKE, it’s pretty damn good.
Like the film, Watchmen’s plot revolves around a variety of ex-superheroes/vigilantes/government nuclear weapons following the murder of The Comedian, government-sponsored sadist and all-round dickbag, one cold, alternate 1985 night. What follows is a bunch of seemingly unrelated events and flashbacks that provide a fascinating insight into these fascinating characters. However, something larger is afoot and, as tensions rise between the USA and Russia, so too do the crazy scrapes that our lovable outcasts get themselves into.
Being the master he is, Alan Moore squishes in a variety of political, moral and psychological messages throughout the story, giving it that extra layer of depth not usually found in other graphic novels, particularly superhero ones. To carry these messages, Moore has created a plethora of deep and interesting characters who represent each of the issues raised in the book. On top of this, they’re all pretty flippin’ dope, ‘cept for Nite-Owl, he’s just alright.
Firstly, Rorschach represents a gritty, violent view of the setting and a disturbed but justified view of society, in general. He has the most cool-ass lines and an ugly backstory that goes with the character perfectly. As well as driving the story, he won me over with all of the above, along with providin’ the violence, to make him my favourite character and one of my favourite comic book characters of all time. I sure do like him, that’s fer sure.
Another favourite of mine is Dr Manhattan, which is odd because he is the polar opposite of Rorschach, in almost every way. Contrasting the raw, stubborn emotion of our favourite ginger mentalist, Doc presents a different perspective on the plot, something that each character brings to the table, his being one of cold, calculated reason. If Rorschach drives the story, Manhattan is the road the story is on, giving him a central importance to the plot. Moreover, artist Dave Gibbons omitted a lot of the blue wang that was present in the film from his artwork. That being said, his sneaky blue sausage wriggled its way into a few panels. Holy moly.
If you’ve read my review of the Watchmen film, if you haven’t, you toolbox, click here, you’ll notice many parallels between that and this, so I’ll keep you from re-reading the same crap again.
One stark character difference between the film and book, however, is that of Ozymandias, who was given a lot more page time in this than in Snyder’s tour-de-okay. Now, to avoid spoilers, I won’t tell you what goes on, but it’s a helluva surprise. However, in the film, it didn’t nearly have as much effect thanks to the lack of Ozymandias, and, therefore, the lack of time to form an opinion on him. That isn’t the case with this, as we get a good amount of Ozymandias to make that final sequence all the more shocking.
However, equally important as the main characters are the troves of supporting characters. This, for me, is the book’s main strength and what makes it miles better than it’s adaptation. Characters like the news vendor and his friend, Moloch and Rorschach’s psychologist all ground the story and give it all the extra layers that most other books don’t have. It’s the attention to detail that Moore gives to these characters that remind you that the things these superheroes do have actual consequences and elevate the overall realism of the narrative. Like I said in my review of the film, the same can be said for the violence and language in the book. This isn’t a book for children and it sure as hell doesn’t need to be; it deals with the same kind of themes you’d easily find in the next Best Picture winner and should be treated thusly.
The reason some might underestimate it, however, I believe, lies in the artwork (oh yes, it’s that time again). Now, I’m not for any dillydallyin’ second insinuating that Dave Gibbons is a bad artist, quite the contrast, I think he’s up there as one of the greats. I’m also not saying that the artwork itself is bad. I think the textbook penciling is some of the best examples of vintage comic illustration that you just don’t see enough of any more, as with the lettering, also by Gibbons. However, that textbook illustration, along with the criminally cheery colours, courtesy of John Higgins (also not a bad thing), just doesn’t fit with the mature themes the narrative is trying to tackle. In fact, the aesthetic is one of the only things I think the film did better, with spot-on use on Snyder’s dark and dreary style (seriously, if you haven’t read my damn review, I’ll pounce on you).
Overall, you can see why Watchmen is considered to be the best work of an acclaimed writer like Alan Moore and also considered to be the pinnacle of what graphic novels can be; because it’s really, really, REALLY good. As per, Moore delivers one of the best stories you’ll ever read, with some many interesting subliminal shizzle to go with it. However, while Dave Gibbons’ artwork is great, it really doesn’t go with what Moore was going for, although it was great, don’t get it twisted.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations
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