Watchmen - Dave Gibbons, John Higgins, Alan Moore
I picked my battered-up copy of the version of the book that we bought back, a little before or after the slightly missed-hit of a movie version of the thing came out. I have been in a Comparative Mythology class, and I was a little... appalled by the fact that my well-meaning professor had somehow managed to pass THIS piece of fiction up, in lieu of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged". Someone mentioned another one of Alan Moore's work ("V For Vendetta") and I couldn't resist bringing the inarguably best work that Moore has ever accomplished. My professor, either calling my bluff on how astronomically amazing the book is and truly deep its connections to some kind of undercurrent of mythology that runs under it are, or blown away by what I described in the work, challenged me to make the last project in class about MY version of "the great American work of fiction". I took him up on the offer, and went about trying to find MY copy of the thin for him to read - a little bet we worked on, in which I told him that "The Watchmen" has more mythology in it than Ayn Rand's attempt.

I got the book back four days later, and he gave me a pleased, secretive little smile as he passed it back to me and thanked me for allowing him to borrow it.

I began re-reading it soon after, while trying to read more of "Atlas Shrugged". Atlas fell by the wayside in lieu of the rich and compelling characters who try to make sense of their world in the pages of "The Watchmen". Maybe it's a personal preference, but to me a great leading character is more of a Laurie Juspeczyk than a Dagny Taggart. Let's just say that one is less of a robot than the other.

Described simply, the graphic novel is a murder-mystery, set in the time period that it was written in (the 80's) that has a dramatic change in the world's history, following the gathering of America's first "super heroes", the "Minutemen". Nixon is president, following dubious events that lead up to his third term in office, all but two super heroes are allowed to work, under order of the government (with one being REALLY super), and the book opens up with the investigation of the murder of one of these two heroes, known as the Comedian. The man investigating the strange events that lead up to the Comedian's death, and to the strange conspiracy that ties to the death, is Rorschach, an illegal anti-hero who sees the death of the Comedian as tying with the strange deaths, the voluntary retirements, the disappearances, and the institutionalization of a startling number of ex-super heroes.

Rorschach's inquiry into the strange death of the Comedian begin to implode the powder keg that is the past of New York - especially the parts that involved these extraordinary people who wanted to "adventure".

I recently heard that when George Lucas sought to create the first three "Star Wars" he believed that everything in the movies has to have "poetic symmetry". Where he failed miserably at his endeavor, Alan Moore has proved to be startlingly adept at using poetic symmetry in the work. Everything that happens in the book seems to have a rhyme and a reason, with nothing happening for no reason; we start to understand these characters in a way like we would our own loved ones, no reaction or lack of one is a surprise. Re-reading it is especially a joy, recognizing where hints and clues were dropped and realizing that everything flows like some great, albeit somewhat disturbing - symphony. This especially includes the seemingly bizarre inclusion of the framed story within "The Watchmen" - "The Black Freighter".

If you especially call yourself a fan of the television show, "The Venture Brothers", then you NEED to read this; really, what's been stopping you?