Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. This is widely cited as one of the greatest Graphic Novels of all time, and I can see why. There were a lot of interesting things that the book did.
The book is broken into 12 chapters, each 28 pages with a 4 page excerpt that in many cases was written by one of the characters. Lets call it about 380 pages. The book can be read in about 2 days of steady reading.
This is the most brilliant part of the book. The characters are all masked heroes who were vigilante crime fighters earlier in their lives. The book follows Rorschach, Nite Owl, the Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, and Ozymandias. The only character that could be said to have true superpowers in Dr. Manhattan, who lost his human form in a nuclear accident. Most of the time when we see heroes from comic books, they are essentially paragons of virtue. Batman and Superman may have their weaknesses, but they are still fairly black and white about their tasks. The characters in this book aren’t nearly as heavily in that vein. Each of the characters is flawed in some way and the book shows this clearly. The characters in this book are the single biggest reason to read this story.
The book is set in 1980’s America, taking place in New York City. The world history is heavily altered due to the existence of the heroes the story revolves around. The biggest influence on the world is Dr. Manhattan and his knowledge of the workings of everything in the world.
The plot begins with Rorschach examining the death of another masked hero, the Comedian. From this starting point, it begins to expand both forward and backward in time to show the characters pasts as well as the current events of the world. The story is very didactic as it deals with the way that humans deal with conflict.
The characters in this story are brilliant and are the main reason to read it. All of the characters are beautifully flawed. I generally don’t care for stories that are clearly didactic to the point where it feels like it’s hitting you in the head. The plot of this story reads that way to me at times, but the characters still make it worth reading.
Worth reading, the first half of the book is where it really shines.