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First Step into a Larger World: Watchmen

January 11, 2013

WatchmenIn mediums like comics and anime, there are titles commonly referred to as “gateway titles.”  These and other mediums of storytelling are met with apathy, ridicule and sometimes outright derision for containing bizarre elements or themes, as well as being associated, often without reason, with a specific audience outside the, for want of a better term, ‘social standard’ (I normally dislike the use of ‘society,’ as it’s become a buzzword on the web referring to anyone with a different opinion than the reader, but my mental thesaurus fails me at this time).  Thus, a gateway title is a work that, while expressing it’s story in the form of its respective medium, tends to do so without conventions normally associated with the genre, allowing the audience to better involve themselves in the story, and often has the result of the audience becoming more open to works of the genre that they would have avoided previously.  I can think of at least five anime that make excellent gateways, which I’ll save for another time (hopefully not long, it’s an article I’ve wanted to do for a while now) and stick with comics.  The comic in particular?  Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, probably one of the most popular gateway comics in the genre.

I have no idea when I first heard of Watchmen, though I remember seeing the name quite often during my time lurking around message boards online back during the days of the Justice League cartoon, and all I could gather about the story was that it seemed to be the comic book story.  Popular, critically acclaimed, and incredibly influential the works that followed it, it seemed to be heralded by nearly everyone as the masterpiece of the medium.  While attending my first Comic-Con with friends I’d made at school, I saw a large booth selling copies of Watchmen in preparation for the upcoming film adaptation.  After some consideration, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and bought a copy to read over the weekend home.

I found Watchmen to be an excellent read and well worth the hype I had constantly seen bestowed upon the title.  Despite my utter lack of familiarity with the Silver Age stories it was deconstructing, I still found the story fresh and the characters and their interactions very interesting.  As someone who grew up on the James Bond series and had seen every movie, I especially got a kick out of “thirty-five minutes ago.”  The tone of the story is one that I’m a fan of whenever it appears; neither naively optimistic or eyeroll-inducing bleak, but progressive shades of dark that ultimately fail to hide the shred of light that ultimately breaks through, especially prevalent in the “thermodynamic miracle” dialogue from Doctor Manhattan near the climax of the story.  Which itself happens around the same time New York is brain-nuked to Hell, but that’s beside the point.  The story itself ends on an open note that no doubt left fans wanting more, but ultimately was probably the best way to close the plot.  Nothing ever ends, after all.

For new readers, it’s possible that Watchmen could come off, ironically, as just another one of the “dark and edgy” stories in comics that it had inspired, but to brush it off as such would be misguided.  Though the efforts at deconstruction could be lost on those who aren’t familiar with the previous generations of stories, Watchmen still serves as a great story and an excellent introduction to the comic medium.

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From → Comics

One Comment
  1. Cathy permalink

    Great read…thanks and time to post to Amazon.

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