Author: Alan Moore, illustrated by Dave Gibbons
Title: Watchmen
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publication Date: 1995
Number of Pages: not numbered
Geographical Setting: Alternate New York City, Antarctica, Mars
Time Period: Alternate 1980’s
Plot Summary: It’s the mid-1980’s in New York City, Nixon has been president for over ten years, and the United States barely has the upper hand in the Cold War thanks to the atomic anomaly Dr. Manhattan. Before Dr. Manhattan became the world’s most efficient superhero, groups of costumed vigilantes kept the criminals of New York City in check. Ten years after being forced into retirement, these masked men (and one woman) come together after one of their own is murdered. The conspiracy that unfurls is as complex as the back stories of each vigilante. The histories of the characters are fascinatingly presented through excerpts of autobiographies, interviews, articles, and flashbacks throughout the narrative. Dave Gibbons’ artwork enriches the text, often displaying an inner turmoil or deeper emotion than the dialogue implies. The color palette, heavy on dark tones, fresh-from-the-vein red, and a mocking sunshine yellow, ties Watchmen to the comics of the 50’s and 60’s, layering a bit of nostalgia to this apocalyptic Cold War nightmare. This is a thinking man’s comic, but is also accessible to fans of superhero comics.
Subject Headings: Superheroes, criminals, crime, murder, vigilantes, arms control, political corruption, Cold War, the eighties, superhero comics, graphic novels
Appeal: Complex characters, action-oriented, detailed landscape, layered plot, multi-character points of view, gritty, urban, dark humor, philosophical, bleak, dramatic, psychological.

Three Terms that Describe: apocalyptic, character-centered, dark
Similar Non-Fiction Authors & Works:
Watching the Watchmen: The Definitive Companion to the Ultimate Graphic Novel by Dave Gibbons (In-depth look at the evolution of the Watchmen’s illustrations by the illustrator—fans of the art will not want to miss this)
Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test by Mark D. White (Discussion of philosophies and moral issues addressed in Watchmen)
Secret Identity Crisis: Comic Books and the Unmasking of Cold War America by Matthew J. Costello (Historical perspective of the Cold War’s effect on comics—good background for Watchmen fans, considering the heavy themes of nuclear destruction and the Cold War)
Relevant Fiction Authors & Works:
Hell and Back (Sin City, book 7) by Frank Miller (Gritty, characters with dark back stories, urban, bleak, graphic novel)
Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer (Superhero mystery, complex characters and plot, psychological, graphic novel)
JSA: The Liberty Files by Dan Jolley (Superheroes, complex plots, strong secondary characters, dark, action-oriented, graphic novel)
Name: Marisa


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