Thursday, March 5, 2009

Nerd Life Special: Who Watches the Watchmen?

Tomorrow (techinically later tonight) marks an important date in Nerd History. Watchmen, the most hallowed comic book of all time, becomes a film.

Cancel that. Watchmen is one of the few comics actually worthy of the title "graphic novel." That's a term usually thrown about by people "too old" to be reading "comic books."

So, what's the big deal about Watchmen, you ask? What makes it so special?

Creative Team

You hear the name Alan Moore a lot. Very few appreciate what he's done. Not only did he write Watchmen, he also wrote:

V for Vendetta: A decent movie, but failed to capture the feel of the comic.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: As terrible as the movie was, you must admit the concept behind it is brilliant. The comics use the concept perfectly.
From Hell: Again, much better in comic form.
Batman: The Killing Joke: My favorite Batman story, and the primary inspiration behind The Dark Knight and even Tim Burton's first Batman Film.
Heck, the guy even made SWAMP THING cool.

Dave Gibbons provided the art. Gibbons has worked on just about any title you can name, alongside writers such as Stan Lee, Frank Miller and Kurt Busiek.

Watchmen won just about every award a comic book can. The Hugo Awards, known for excellence in science fiction and fantasy, even created a special category JUST so they could give Watchmen an award.

Time Magazine even named it one of the top 100 novels of the 20th Century.


I'm a little sad. Many viewers at the movies this weekend will watch the movie and go, "They just ripped off a bunch of other movies!"

Sorry, Johnny Filmgoer, everybody else ripped off Watchmen over the past 20+ years.

The story takes place in the mid-1980s. The US is critically close to total war with the Soviet Union. Richard Nixon is STILL President, after amending the Constitution. The US's striking victory in Vietnam, thanks to the mobilization of costumed heroes, gave Nixon unheralded popularity.

Costumed heroes were a popular fad dating back to Superman's first appearance in comics. The costumed vigilantes rose and fell to obscurity. A law was passed re-outlawing vigilantism, leaving government-sanctioned masked men as the only legally operating heroes.

The story starts with the murder of one of those sanctioned heroes. A gripping mystery unfolds, leading to stunning revelations and serious moral choices.

Please note my use of "costumed heroes." Of all the characters in the story, only one of them actually has superpowers.


What makes a hero?

Is it powers? Because the only character to actually have any is probably the LEAST heroic. As his power grows, so does his detachment from everything that ever made him human.

Is it intelligence? The World's Smartest Man may be TOO smart for Earth's own good.

Is it passion? The character most motivated to become a hero was also the first to hang up his cape. What if he had OTHER reasons for putting on a mask?

Is it legacy? The character with a heroic bloodline is the one that LEAST wants to be a hero.

Is it ideals? The outlaw vigilante that refuses to be told what to do is shunned by society, even though he is only trying to do good.

This is what makes Watchmen so engaging. These "perfect" examples of humanity are all deeply flawed on the inside. Every person who picks up the book can relate to one of the heroes.


There are so many things that the comic did that the movie never could. The "comic-within-a-comic" that beautifully mirrors the themes of the actual story. The issue that is drawn and written to be completely SYMMETRICAL. The foreshadowing and hints that are either impossible to do or lose all meaning in a 2 1/2 hour+ movie. Watchmen is like Fight Club or The Sixth Sense. The first time, it's a fun ride. The second, third or tenth time, it has whole new meanings. You find something new every time.

While there may not be enough time to read the graphic novel in its entirety before watching the movie, I do hope that the movie inspires viewers to go pick up what i consider to be truly one of the greatest pieces of artwork to grace pop culture in many, many years.




About Me

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A part-time player trying to exist in a full-time world. Guild Master of Denarian on the Azjol-Nerub server.


Image courtesy of Nexodyne

Current Goals

  • Haddar - Level 80
  • Tarmr - HERBS!
  • Samodean - Wyrmrest Accord Exalted
  • Samodean - Finish Northrend Quests


  • Watching - Primeval
  • Playing - Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (DS)
  • Watching - Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Playing - The Last Remnant (360)
  • Playing - Persona 4 (PS2)


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