Thursday, February 8, 2007

Atomic Comic Collection Connection

by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

So anyone who knows anything about comics is already familliar with Watchmen, the 12 part alternative history/super hero/sci fi/psychological drama/all around awesome graphic novel in 12 chapters. Anyone who doesn't, probably will in a couple of years, since it's reportedly being adatped into a movie by Zack Snyder, who directed the upcoming badass looking 300 film (itself an adaptation of Frank Miller's work). But I expect the movie to pale in comparison to the graphic novel (a term I usually hate, because it reeks of poseur BS, but Watchmen is so dense it reads like a novel... a good one).

The basic premise is... hard to describe. It takes place in 1985. Except that superheroes are real. Or they were, until they were outlawed. And they're not all that super, they don't have powers. Except one blue guy who does have powers. Also, the US won decisively in Vietnam. And Richard Nixon is still president. Because of their legal status, all the superheroes have retired (either by unmasking themselves or disappearing), except for a few who either ignore the law or work for the government. But the action begins when The Comedian, one of the government employed heroes, turns up dead. Murdered. And Rorshach, one of the outlaw heroes, becomes convinced that a conspiracy is behind it. His argument is pretty convincing, except that he's also crazy and sees conspiracies everywhere.

That setup sounds complicated and confusing and kind of stupid, I admit, but that's only because I'm not Alan Moore. He draws you into the world very slowly, leaving enough details to keep you intrigued and keep you from getting lost, but not so many that you're overwhelmed. The characters have texture, they seem like real people even though they run around in goofy costumes. The art is inspired by early comics with a basic color palette, but given a darker tone than the primary colors of old, but each frame is filled with details. Graffiti in the background, newspaper headlines visible, characters given real depth by things as simple as their posture.

So basically, read Watchmen if you haven't already. And read it again if you have.

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