The Watchmen - and I do mean the original comic book series (oh, excuse me, “graphic novel.”)
I was in m prime comic book reading years when the series initially ran in comic book installments. I read some great reviews and the book had some hype surrounding it. Yet when I actually skimmed through some issues at my comic book shop, I was turned off by it and never bought an issue. I didn’t like the artwork at all. I confess that I was a bit of a cliche bronze age comic fan in that I didn’t necessarily want deep, reflective themes in my comic books. I wanted to see easy to follow fight scenes and black & white morality stories in which the heroes were always in the right and the villains were snidely whiplash bad.
Time marched on of course, my tastes broadened and I became more open receptive to stories with greyer shades in them. I even became a bit more cynical of the typical superhero story myself, and even grew to appreciate comic books with deeper themes like Neil Gaiman’s "the Sandman.’ Just recently, I finally after so many years sat down to read “Watchmen.”
Blech. Didn’t care for it at all.
I still don’t like the artwork, which looks crude and amateurish. And I am a Dave Gibbons fan; I also recently re-visited some of his “Doctor Who” comic strips from way back and the art still holds up well in those stories. "Watchmen’ however looks just plain bad - not ‘crude as a stylistic choice to depict the gritty milieu’’ bad (as I’ve heard it explained a few times)…just, just bad. It also looks as if it were colored in crayon.
The story however is even worse. Yes, there are some interesting ideas in it. But it’s boring for long stretches of time. I can handle cynicism, but the punk nihilism of the story seems every bit as one-dimensional and juvenile as the silver-age morality stories this series is supposedly satirizing. It’s misogynistic (of course the original Silk Spectre is going to be madly in love with the man who raped her and beat her up! Just…of course that would happen.) Ozymandias’ master plan is frankly stupid. And for a series that was purportedly written as one self-contained novel, it reads like something that was made up on the fly, with a hastily slapped together denouement.
All in all, this really does not live up to its reputation.