Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Watchmen


Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I'm reading this for Nymeth's mini-challenge for March. I'm just finishing Chapter 3. I am in awe. I had no idea it was going to be this good. And make no mistake - this is really good fantasy, dark stuff, the stuff that is gritty and noir and filled with heroes and men trying to be more than they are, and the humour is as black as it gets and good. If I were to have a conversation with the part of me that wants to be a superhero - and believe me, I have a part to my nature that wishes I could fly and rescue people and save the world - my super alter ego would be like the dark nature of this book. I know it would. I am sarcastic in my real life, and while I come across as someone who laughs a lot, it's because underneath I'm aware of how twisted life can be, and how much pain we end up being a part of by being in this world. That's what this graphic novel is like. It's bittersweet, it's wry, it's funny, it's dark , it's got superheros who are flawed. This book is as much about relationships and people's secrets as it is about saving the world. There are subtexts, that deepen the stories being written about, exploring say, love, or aging, from different points of view. All kinds of stories are being played out across the pages. The illustrations themselves add another whole layer to the story, and frequently the words are set in direct contrast with the illustrations, creating still another level of meaning on each page and often, each square of story. There is a tremendous feeling of world-weary truth you get when you've saved the world and it's not enough because the world will need saving again. It's good, it's dark, and I'm so happy I finally let myself read it!

And if you haven't yet, please go out and try it. It is marvelous writing and storytelling and art all together in one book.

And this is just at then end of chapter 3!!

I also have to say that even though it was written in 1985, there is a timeless quality to it - even the headlines in the papers, written for then, still apply now - possible war in Afghanistan, Russians moving, threat of nuclear war - headlines we still have now. I don't know if that means that the human race hasn't moved forward at all, or if the writers picked up on essential stories that perhaps the world is still wrestling with, something that we now know won't be solved easily - but there it is, front and square in the graphic novel, and no one in charge in the world (ie the US President, the UN) know quite how to handle it. La plus ca change........so this novel is relevant still today, and it gives a haunting feel to the novel. Will we ever figure out the answer?

Simply amazing.

15 comments:

Gavin said...

Susan, Thanks for the Hello.

This is a fabulous review. I can not wait to get this from my library, but it will be a while. I'm number three hundred and something on the wait list! I may have to buy it.

As for poetry have you read Louise Gluck?

Susan said...

Hi Gavin, I went to your blog but you have no posts yet! :-( I'm glad you are enjoying my posts, and Watchmen is incredible. Number 300 eh? I'm over 100 for the 'Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao', I might break down and buy it first!

I have read some Louise GLuck, but she is even harder to find than Mary Oliver's early books! I enjoy her too. It's so great to find that people are reading poetry still.

Bybee said...

I want to read this so I put off reading your review till later...something to look forward to!

jspeyton said...

The movie's coming out at the end of the week. Yay!!! = )

Emily Barton said...

This one is already on my radar screen. Now, it seems, I'd better get a copy somewhere.

Debi said...

Despite the fact that I've really fallen in love with the graphic novel medium over the past year, this is one of those books that I've been hesitant about. But this is third extremely tempting review I've read in the last few weeks. You're pushing me temptingly close to the edge!

Julia Smith said...

My husband and I are racing to the theatre on Friday to see this film. We LOVE superhero origin stories!!! He's been waiting and waiting on this particular film, though. And I'm a huge fan of director Zack Snyder, whose '300' is one of my favorite films.

GeraniumCat said...

My son is worrying about whether the film will live up to his expectations! Oscar Wao is pretty good, by the way.

Kailana said...

I really need to stop being such a slacker and get around to reading this. I own it and everything. Hopefully this month...

Susan said...

bybee: when are you going to read it? Now that you have all those library books to read! lol

jspeyton: I'm trying to finish before the movie opens, and I'm of mixed feelings about going right away or waiting a few days so the novel sinks in.

Emily: oh yes! It is worth reading. Even for us, it adds to the coolness factor, especially when I now think I should have read this 20 years ago when it first came out! I am so slow to some things.

Debi: Isn't it great to discover that the medium everyone is reading, is worth reading? I now have to gear myself up to try manga. I'm still not sure about it though as a worthy book to read when I have so many million others to try! lol I hope you get to Watchmen soon.

julia: Both of you going! How lovely to hear this! Please let us know what you think. I will be going, just not sure when. My son loves '300' as well.

Geraniumcat: My eldest (the 20 year old) comes home tomorrow from his father's, I'll find out then what his plan is and when he's going to see it. I'm not sure he's read Watchmen yet, so I'm hoping to increase my cool mom factor with him by lending him my copy :-D

and i've heard Oscar Wao is good through various blogs so now I'm very curious about it! Did you review it? Did I miss it?

Kailana: I like that 'you own everything' comment! That's what my husband says, but I disgree!

And it is worth reading before seeing the movie, at least for me it is. I hope you enjoy it!

Jodie said...

Susan, I haven't reviewed Oscar Wao (um...yet?. I got it from my elder son, who loved it, and younger son is next in line to read it.

Matthew said...

I just finished reading this and absolutely loved it! I'm hoping to go see the movie tomorrow. I say anyone who hasn't read it yet needs to just go buy it now. It's totally worth it.

Susan said...

jodie: i've heard so many good things about Oscar Wao! I'll keep an eye out for your review :-D and maybe in three years I'll get my copy to read! lol

Matthew: did you go see the movie yet? I'm going with a friend to see it on Saturday so I have to finish it by then. It's riveting and deeply dark and gorgeous, and my eldest son has already asked to read it when I'm done (he saw the movie already and really like it, but hasn't read the book yet). It is worth it, the price, isn't it?

Rhinoa said...

I definitely plan on reading this in 2009. My husand says it is the best book ever written (very high praise!). I think I will try and see the film first if possible.

Susan said...

Rhinoa: It is very, very good. I want to read it first before going to see the movie, though that always means the movie isn't as good for me in most cases, but I love the artistry and the story, so hopefully that will translate. Movie is getting mixed reviews, but the book - I haven't seen many people not like it! Your husband shows very good taste! I hope you do enjoy it when you get to it.