This is my first ever graphic novel! It seemed like a fun, interesting way to branch out from my usual selection of mysteries and airport quality chick lit. On reading a graphic novel, it was extremely challenging for all the reasons I thought it would be. I struggled with reading the words, and looking at the images. Watchmen is dense, you have the read the words to really follow the story, and it took me like 75 pages to get the hang of the reading and looking and feeling the flow of the story. At first I would read, look at the pictures, read, look at the pictures, but it interrupted the flow and I felt like I wasn’t fully appreciating the fantastic imagery.
I selected Watchmen by Googling “graphic novels for beginners” and this was the right choice for me. It was a world of super (nonsuper?) heroes I knew nothing about, so I could build my expectations and the world from the ground up. The story has some of the black and white appeal of a classic good v. evil comic book story, but it’s dark. The characters are far more morally gray. You’re rooting for the vigilantes, the men and women who took up masks to fight crime on their own when the government wasn’t doing enough, who were eventually replaced by actual superheroes. You don’t really fully believe they’re heroes, because their imperfections are out on the line more so than any other heroes I’ve been exposed to.
It makes for excellent character development. First, the types of people drawn to the masked man vigilante lifestyle are unique – they desperately want fame, or justice, or just because they’re slightly unstable. And then they’re replaced, and slightly turned against by their government, and they mostly give up their lifestyle. For each of them – you see why they put on the mask, why they took it off, and how they’ve struggled since. It’s fascinating. Plus, there’s a lot of political maneuvering, and some great commentary on what it means to be famous, and enough family trauma and strife to make them feel real. Like this could happen.
Rorschach was my favorite, even though he’s arguably the most broken. I just loved his dedication to the cause, the way he lost himself in it, they way he believed in his masked man abilities to the point where he just became Rorschach. He became a superhero. He lost sight of his more human side. And he was brutal, and overzealous, and probably paranoid to boot, but his story is compelling. He reminds me of the antiheroes I love in television, the antiheroes who have their own moral code and because they at least follow some code, you emphathize. Like Omar on the Wire. Or Boyd on Justified.
A great introduction to the genre, and I might even read another one. Success!