Watchmen is unlike any other comic I'd ever read. It read easily, much like fiction, and the plot and characters were not only fully developed but also fully realized. Alan Moore is known to be a bit eccentric, he is also known to be somewhat of a genius. It is easy to see why Time Magazine named Watchmen one of their 100 Best Novels and it's also easy to see why a movie would be made from one of his books, V For Vendetta, even if he wouldn't take any of Hollywood's dirty money from it. Moore is an interesting guy at the least, and has been accused of being paranoid about the government. Whatever you think of him, you cannot deny his skill for storytelling or the fact that he brings up interesting and thought provoking arguments, and pretty convincingly at that.
At first glance, Watchmen is about some "retired" masked vigilantes who start getting wrapped up in what at first seems simply a murder of one of their former masked comrades, but then turns out to be much deeper and much more sinister than they could ever imagine. What really impressed me the most at first are the characters. They are so well developed that they become very complex and very realistic. Even some of the lesser characters, such as Bernard, the newsstand guy, or Rorschach's psychologist, Malcolm, are well developed and are more than just flat supporting characters. The characters are not just well developed but also interesting and original, complex and contradicting, just like real people. They stick around with you after you're done reading the book, some may even haunt you.
As I progressed through the book, the plot really took off. It pulls you through with a mystery, and at first you don't think the mystery is as big as the characters in the book, but then there are some very odd clues that start making you wonder what the hell could possibly be going on and you get a sense it might be bigger than what you originally thought. In the end, the truth was bigger and more shocking then anything I could have personally guessed. It is a controversial ending, one that makes a political and social statement, as Moore's known for doing, but I didn't get the sense that Moore himself was leaning one way or the other, I might be wrong about that, but in the book I felt that he left the ending up for debate. He showed the good and bad, the noble and un-noble of both sides. And to tell you the truth, it's a disturbing and sad ending, but one that makes you think deeply about our society as it is today.
All this from a comic book you ask? Yes, it was a book I could barely put down and kiss my husband good night while I was nearing the end. I'm still thinking about it today and still feel haunted by one character in particular.
Update: I got jibed a little by my friend who got me into comic books because I wrote this review in 25 minutes. He said something to the effect that I couldn't write a review on a Masterpiece in 25 minutes, and he's right. I could have written forever about it, about the balance of the plot and characters, about the ingenious Issue all about Jon or the way the everything was interconnected and so well plotted out that it rivals the plotting skills of the writers of the TV show '24'. Or I could have gone on and on about all the symbolism or the foil of The Tales of Black Freighter to the main plot. But really, there's so much to praise and talk about in the book, and with considerations of not revealing too much of the plot as well as keeping it short and sweet for those who are interested but don't have time to read a super long review, I didn't touch on everything I easily could have in the book. If you would like a more in-depth look into Watchmen, I kindly direct you to good ol' Wikipedia. Though I do warn you that under "Plot Summary" it does spoil the ending, so if you don't want it spoiled, skip that part. For more of a review on Watchmen, and to avoid the spoilers, check out here and here. They are far more in-depth than my review and written by more comic book aficionados than myself. I'm rather impressed by their analysis of the book, but I do believe it takes a couple of readings to grasp Watchmen in the way that they have. My review comes from a person discovering Watchmen for the first time, a relative newbie into comics and maybe it will reach those who are on my level of comic book reading. So please, if you're interested, explore, enjoy and read the book! You won't be disappointed, I promise.
Is that better?