I’ve been meaning to read this novel for several years now, having told myself that I would do so before I watched the movie that came out in 2009. I’m so glad I finally got around to it. Watchmen portrays superheros in a terrifyingly realistic way by playing out the unsavory consequences of setting loose violent vigilantes with literal hero complexes. The comic’s non-linear organization keeps the reader constantly questioning and engaged, all the while showcasing the graphic novel medium’s flexibility. After several hundred pages of a loosely detective novel-esque plot, the novel ends unpredictably and unromantically, leaving the reader unsatisfied in that pleasing, post-modern kind of way. All together, the entire experience was off-putting and very enjoyable.
Unexpectedly, Watchmen also provides a historically accurate representation of the racism, sexism, anti-Communist sentiment, and homophobia of the mid 80’s. The racial and sexual slurs used throughout the novel are striking both because of their frequency and the casual nature in which they are used. This novel could be used to teach history as easily as it could be used to teach literary critique, and deserves to be read in a variety of classes.