Watchmen-The graphic novel

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by amdmiami, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. Nardpuncher

    Nardpuncher Rear Admiral

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    That's a great last line. (in your spoiler)

    I started the graphic novel when I was 12 or 13, stopped, and just picked it up again last night, just finished the first part, but also understand what you're saying stj... some people will read too much into it. There should not be (obviously in my opinion) college courses on comic books. Heck, I'm not in favor of analyzing any literature too much. Go to college to split atoms and learn how to build bridges.
     
  2. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The Watchmen set standards that are indicative of a phase change in comics. It's no longer a medium for kiddies-and Watchmen was one of the few pieces to raise the bar. Others may have written better(not IMO) but this set the standard, along with Frank Miller's DK Returns and that amazing run of Swamp Thing. Preacher is cool but came out way later. Sandman is cool. Watchmen just looked at things differently and when it came out no one was actually doing that. Hence the reaction to it over the years.
     
  3. Bishbot

    Bishbot Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Undoubtedly true - most of the time, a comic is just a comic, Watchmen is considerably more than just anything, as you must know, because you've read it.
     
  4. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Numbers for questions added.

    (1)The other stuff is why the book is still worth reading and even taking seriously.

    (2)Yes, there's symbolism but that wasn't my topic. Nor is it required to pay fealty to the book's use of symbolism when discussing the basic story.

    (3)My recap of "who wins" explicitly reads the subtext, which I think is the real objection. A complaint that I ignore subtext is incorrect.

    (4)The historical context of previous comic books and previous thought about comic book heroes is not of great interest. Others more interested in that topic should comment on that.

    (5)Mainstream critics and college professors suffering "terminal" enthusiasm are wildly wrong and should be pitied. Genuinely comparing Watchmen to War and Peace would be a good example.

    In general, although there are depths to Watchmen, there are also shallows. Diving in without caution is dangerous. Part of Watchmen's appeal to younger people (of all physical ages) is that rather crude pulp story.
     
  5. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    War in Peace is often considered one of the "greatest novels ever written."

    Watchmen is often considered one of the "greatest graphic novels ever written."

    I haven't had the opportunity nor the dedication to read either, but it seems that whether you want to compare the two depends on your evaluation of the relative merits of the medium of the novel vs. the graphic novel.

    Do you view the graphic novel as simply an inferior medium, or is your rejection of such a comparison simply a result of your lukewarm analysis of Watchmen?
     
  6. Derishton

    Derishton Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Not to distract from Hirogen Alpha's qood question, I would like to respond to #4.

    One example: Superman as a conscious response to Nietzsche's philosophy as refracted through National Socialism, who increasingly turns into a symbol of America itself (and often an instensely liberal America).

    On a bigger level, the superhero represents either an evolution of or a return to the heroic model found in mythology. That the superhero resisted the death of the hero longer than several other genres is interesting, too - it's only with Identity Crisis that the superhero is inextricably affected by society's embrace of cultural and ethical relativism. Watchmen is widely seen as the start of that process (although Squadron Supreme by Gruenwald can't be dismissed).
     
  7. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Well, when something is lavishly praised, there is usually a backlash, too. Personally, I am not a superhero comic reader nor do I read much "genre" fiction, graphic or otherwise. I thought Watchmen was outstanding, and really does deserve being placed beside Catch-22, All the King's Men, Gravity's Rainbow and so on, as Time did in its 100 greatest novels of the century list a few years ago.

    Aside from its plot and characterization, which are excellent, Watchmen pulled off something structurally that would be hard to do in another medium: Having a story within a story (the pirate comic) as a commentary and counterpoint to the main plot, with art from one story and text from the other intertwining. I don't know how to characterize it other than brilliant writing.

    --Justin
     
  8. Small White Car

    Small White Car Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I have also been recently wondering if I should read this.

    So far, this thread is very discouraging. Apparently I'll need to be some kind of brilliant genius to start with, then take a college course on it, and then re-read it again several years later to really appreciate it.

    Ok. Or I could go get an ice cream sandwich out of my freezer.

    I dunno, it's a pretty tough choice.
     
  9. Hicks

    Hicks Captain Captain

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    Aw, screw all that. You don't need it. Just read it at your own pace and enjoy.
     
  10. TheBrew

    TheBrew Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Or you could read it WHILE eating an ice cream sandwich.
     
  11. Small White Car

    Small White Car Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Blimey, that's bloody brilliant!

    I'll arrange to have someone flip the pages for me so I don't get them all sticky.
     
  12. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Eat sugar cubes while you're reading, instead. Trust me, there's a reason.
     
  13. Bishbot

    Bishbot Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    QTF: the only reason people get this into Watchmen is that its genuinely that good. When you have finished it you will want to discuss what you have read with other people. That's why it generates such intense discussions, because it deserves them. Read it as a story, enjoy it, let it sink in, and then realise you want to hear what other people think.
     
  14. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I do think that good as it is, Watchmen is also the Emperor's New Clothes.
     
  15. USS Mariner

    USS Mariner Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    And only if they come in catering packs.
     
  16. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Indeed, when I first read it at 17, I enjoyed it on a fairly superficial level. But it's something that you'll be able to reread time and again and find new things, if that suits you.

    You cite very, very little subtext--much less than I, my friends, and various sites I've seen online have found. And I find what you do cite to be off the mark. For example, you describe Rorschach as "staunchly heterosexual". Really? And here I thought...
    ...that he was an asexual misogynist who seemed to liken most women to his abusive whore of a mother, having little use for them and being appalled at the sight of their undergarments.

    It may be of no interest to you, but Watchmen is widely recognized as a super-hero comic that deconstructs super-hero comics. This is a key element of the book, and the main reason why many fear that it won't translate properly onscreen.

    Oh, for heaven's sake--I was quoting Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor from Superman: The Movie! Now who's taking things too seriously? And it's called allusion, it's a literary device.
     
  17. Thrall

    Thrall Commodore Commodore

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    Garth Ennis FTW!!

    Just look at my sig.
     
  18. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You keep forgetting that I'm talking about who wins, which is only part of the book. For my point, discussion of other aspects of Watchmen is irrelevant, so the amount of subtext is also irrelevant. The rub is the subtext I read---it seems to denigrate the coolness of Rorschach! Well, it does, but that is a real and serious flaw in the book I think. That's why Moore/Gibbon do not deserve excessively lavish praise.

    As to the substance of your objection----
    Rorschach thinks about sex constantly, and he thinks about sex in connection with women. I find it kind of unbelievable a character as pathological as Rorschach hasn't acted out sexually with women. Most of your objection seems to assume that heterosexuality and misogyny are somehow opposites, which is just plain wrong. One reason Rorschach is so cool is precisely that he embodies adolescent male resentment of women, yet doesn't go over the line, keeps it within acceptable limits.

    Confusing Rorschach with an asexual character when Ozymandias is in the book really bespeaks great insensitivity to subtext in my opinion. In a way, keeping Veidt offstage renders the plot of Watchmen a little bit of a Hamlet without the Prince. I do not think that Moore meant either character to be such polar sexual opposites. But he still wrote it that way. Again, that's why I think that lavish praise for the book is way misplaced.

    Oh, I think a true deconstruction of superhero comics would involve some real world physics. This no doubt seems obtuse, like thinking (which I confess I do) that deconstructing the Western movie involves some real world history. Perhaps the failure to radically deconstruct alllowed the uncontrolled reemergence of the old adolescent themes of superhero comics, in a freshly thrilling form?

    Italics added. I didn't think you meant to compare Watchmen to War and Peace. I just thought you meant to compare me to a completely imaginary idiot who thought War and Peace was a simple adventure story. I manfully resisted the temptation to make fun of taking literature from Lex Luthor once all ready. Please don't tempt me futher.

    Why so touchy? Because a major part of the appeal, even though maturity may allow appreciation of deconstruction or irony or subtext, etc, the story of who wins is responsible for a lot of the book's appeal. Stated baldly, it doesn't sound very grown up (because it isn't,) but it is what it is.
     
  19. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^I think that "who wins" is one of the least important aspects of the book.
    It's really left very much up in the air. Veidt thinks he's won, and Doc Manhattan points out, in a very telling quote, that nothing ever ends. Then the tease at the end with the journal. Will he pick it up or won't he? And if he does, will even the people at the New Frontiersman believe it? And even if they do, will anyone believe them, known as they are for paranoid extremist rantings?

    As for Rorschach's character...first, your opinion seems colored by how much you value his "coolness". The man has serious issues which are expressed via an extreme worldview, and is a highly unreliable narrator. I think he's cool just as he is...he's a fascinating character who does really badass things. But seeing his flaws doesn't lessen any of that, it helps me to appreciate why he is the way he is. That's a very important element of this book--to postulate how, in a more realistic setting, anyone who would put on a costume and dedicate themselves to fighting crime would have to be of an extreme personality type.

    I'd agree that he thinks about sex...he's clearly strongly repressing his urges. But, correct me if I'm wrong, there is zero evidence in the book of his ever having had sex or a relationship with anyone--male or female. There is also an utter lack of his expressing any positive regard for women, whereas there are plentiful examples of him berating whores and such...and of course, there's his often-expressed revulsion of women's clothing. I think that what his mother did turned him off of the opposite sex entirely, or at least made him completely suppress his urges for the opposite sex. The thought of sex morally disgusts him. That doesn't mean he doesn't biologically crave it. Hence the fact that he seems particularly violent against rapists.

    Do adolescent males resent women? Or do preadolescent males...who are, essentially, asexual? You could say that Rorschach is a card-carrying member of the He-Man Woman-Haters Club...as many boys are, before they start to get those urges and women become objects of worship and desire.

    And yes, I think that Veidt is either also asexual, or a repressed homosexual. We see zero evidence of romantic/sexual interest in anyone...except maybe himself. Perhaps he sees himself as so above ordinary people that they don't appeal to him. When he cites Doc Manhattan as seeing people as red and black ants, I think that he's really projecting his own secret views.
     
  20. FordSVT

    FordSVT Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's a bit unfair to compare Watchmen, as good as it is, to something like War and Peace. It's like comparing a really good steak dinner at your mom's house with a seven course meal at a Michelin 2-star. There is just so much more to examine and analyze in War and Peace, and I'm not just talking about the number of words in the book. Watchmen was indeed special, but not because it broke any new literary ground, it was special because it broke ground in the comic book industry. It did many things few if any comics had done before, but very little if anything others who've put pen to paper before had already done.

    It's like the best song the Rolling Stones or U2 ever wrote compared to the best symphony Mozart ever composed. They're all amazing in their subjective categories but different enough where direct comparisons are rather trite, IMO.

    That doesn't mean you can't compare them, but you can compare go-kart league racing with F1 if you want too.

    Let me know if foreign university students are still writing thesis around an aspect of Watchmen in 150 years.
     

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