At first glance, the bright appearance and comic book format of Watchmen may seem to just be any other superhero comic book, with an ensemble cast of heroes trying to save the world. However, from the opening pages, the uniquely real art and the darker tone establishes that this is anything but a simple superhero story. As the plot advances, Moore further cements this by showing the reader that the heroes in the world of Watchmen are just regular people who happen to be gifted with superpowers. This approach is what I believe inspired shows like the Boys, who take the same cynical approach to writing a superhero story.
The writing and story are very dense, but I think it never gets to be too much for the reader. One of the things I thought Moore does best is his use of flashbacks, both to give you a broader and more in-depth context of events happening in the book while also showing you that the heroes you see in the story have gone almost out of fashion. Another element that elevated Watchmen is the art done by Dave Gibbons and colored by John Higgins, which perfectly matches the tone of the story and sets a thick and developed atmosphere.
The story itself covers an alternate timeline where the US won the Vietnam War, and depicts the political and social atmosphere approaching WWII. The heroes of Watchmen are all very realistic and morally grey, and the plot covers them coming out of retirement to investigate the murder of an old hero and later uncover a plan with global consequences.
I personally really enjoyed Watchmen, and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in comic books or superhero stories. However, I encourage people who usually don’t read comic books or are interested in things like superheroes to try Watchmen, as it’s unique approach and mature story appeal to many more people than just comic book fans.
Watchman by Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library.