Who watches the watchmen?

A rioter desperately inscribes this line on the wall while two masked super heroes close in on him. These are desperate times in a world weighed down by the shadow of a looming, nuclear third world war. Crime and destitution are on the rise. This is a time when the world needs super-heroes more than anything else. And there are heroes here, willing to watch over the helpless citizens to save them from the ills of a depraved society. They are the watchmen. But the common citizen has risen against them, against their saviors, preferring the regular cops for law enforcement. Why did this happen? These and a multitude of other questions are dealt with in this highly popular graphic novel ‘Watchmen’.

Alan Moore is the writer of Watchmen. One of the most famous graphic novelist from Britain, he is said to have brought the term ‘Graphic Novel’ into being. He has worked with artist Dave Gibbons to create this wonderfully complex and crisply rendered graphic novel. The art work in this novel is extraordinary, the compositions stunning and the illustrations very forceful. This is not a typical comic book, though the illustrations are in that style. The writing is of a rich literary quality which garnered a lot of respect. This also helped the move from a ‘comic books’ genre to the ‘graphic novel’ one.
‘Watchmen’ was originally published as a 12 issue series in 1986-87 and later as a collection. It received an overwhelming reception, gaining a cult like following and has held a spot in the world’s top graphic novels ever since. After reading this extraordinary novel it is easy to understand why this is the case.

‘Watchmen’ has its own original masked heroes: a ‘Nite Owl’ who can conjure up unimaginable gadgetry, ‘Ozymandias’ the smartest man on earth, the ‘Comedian’ who understands the world well enough to be able to laugh at it, a brutal and single minded ‘Rorschach’ who can’t stand evil, a beautiful female vigilante ‘Silk Spectre’, and a real ‘superhero’ with extraordinary powers born out of an atomic accident, ‘Dr Manhattan’. Each of them is socially misfit, haunted with personality disorders, fighting with himself and also the world. They feel a need to understand the darkness of the human mind, hoping to eliminate its root. Sometimes working together, but mostly alone, they dig into the murky trenches of crime. What they find at the end of their quest is of a most startling nature.

‘Watchmen’ has streaks of science fiction and psychological mystery. It plays with the psyche of the reader, delving into a grey area where it is difficult to discern the good from the evil, virtue from vice, cause from consequence. Time and space seem to warp in the human mind. And Dr. Manhattan for whom all the times exist at once admits unemotionally,
“The morality of my activities escapes me”

Watchmen was also made into a film of the same name in 2009
Watchmen can be bought from Flipkart and Landmark in India.

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