Books and Code · A Miscellany

Watchmen, by Alan Moore and David Gibbons (A Review)


This work has been greatly overrated. Sure, in the world of comic books, this is absolutely the best one I’ve ever read. (For some context, I collected comics in middle school. I liked the X-Men and Spiderman series in particular.) It is absolutely fair to assert that this is an important work of art for the genre, etc. However, this is not a great novel–at best it’s a decent one.

The writing, by which I mean the words printed on the pages, is unremarkable and suffers from a goofy tone that is indigenous to comic books. Dialog is frequently formulaic and unrealistic. For instance, a bad guy in a prison calls someone a “loony toon”. Generally, one would assume this is a limitation of the medium given the typical audience of comic books, but also included in this series is mass murder, rape, sex, nudity, impotence, and mild cursing (hell, bitch, asshole, etc.). This is just one example, but there is a lot of such dialogue.

However, there is a lot the book gets right. The writing, by which I mean plot and character development, is great–fantastic for a comic. Watchmen’s world deals with real issues that would result from a host of masked heroes prowling the streets. The heroes too (insofar as any are heroes), deal with real personal problems resulting from such a life.

Bottom line: if you like comics anyway, you will love this book. If not and a friend who does recommended it to you as a quality piece of art, you will finish it wondering what the fuss was about.