Wednesday, 5 September 2007

WATCHMEN: The Ultimate Graphic Novel? The Ultimate comic book movie?

By Andrew Hawnt

There are always good sellers, titles that will stand the test of time and the fickle fancies of passing trends, titles that become a standard and essential purchase for any collection. Then there the precious few that transcend this tiny scene and reach out to the masses on a whole different level. Maus, Road to Perdition, Sandman and so on.

But there is one title that is a true masterpiece, a book respected far an wide outside the comics community as well as within it, and that, dearreader, is Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's immortal tale Watchmen.

It'd be easy for a fanboy such as myself to warble on about it being awesome, but the book's pedigree speaks for itself: Voted one of TIME magazine's 100 Best Novels, winner of the prestigious HUGO award, and described as Entertainment Weekly as 'A masterwork representing the apex of artistry', amongst other such comments from sources the world over.

The thing is, the damn book lives up to the hype in every way. No, seriously, it is frankly ridiculous how good Watchmen is. Each page seeps class. The story is impeccable, and the art, while very much of its time, is outstanding. A complex, engrossing tale of ageing superheroes brought back together when one of their number is murdered, it turned the genre on its head and things have literally never been the same since the original 12 issue run of the series.

I would urge anyone who hasn't read it yet to do so before the film is completed (as much as I'm looking forward to Zack Snyder's adaptation, it must be experienced in its original form first to fully appreciate its beauty).

It spawned one of the most unique and gritty vigilante characters in decades in the shape of the relentless and near-psychotic Rorschach (aka the gangly, monotone-voiced Walter Kovacs), and boasts some of the most memorable scenes in modern age comics history. It cemented Alan Moore as a comics genius, and immortalised the art of Dave Gibbons for generations to come.

Which poses a slight problem. With something so beloved by so many people, the movie may well be fighting a losing battle even before the cameras have started rolling. The story has been around in one form or another for twenty years now and is so ingrained in fan's heads that any deviation will cause an outcry. On the other hand, there are millions of people who have never even heard of it, and if the movie doesn't amaze them, then they'll wonder what the fuss was about in the first place (*cough*LXG*cough*). Watchmen is sacred, and rightly so, as it is truly a fascinating and addictive book.

The casting for the movie is shaping up nicely though, I must say. The names already released are inspired, and Zack Snyder knows what he's doing, or at least I hope he does! I'm excited and apprehensive at the same time. This is a big deal. Batman and Superman and X-men and Spider-Man movies can come and go as they have such a lengthy history of stories and characters. Watchmen was a one-off, a single moment of near perfection that has resonated in the comics industry for two decades, and I pray that the film people do it justice. I doubt it will ever be the Watchmen movie the fans want to see, but even something close would be very, very special indeed.

The legendary WATCHMEN graphic novel is available at Starstore dot com!

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