Thursday, November 13, 2008


The first time I read Watchmen I was in high school.

I had not read any comic books growing up since I was raised in a small town without anything like a comic book store and the titles carried in more accessible places never caught my eye. I don't know exactly how I got the impression, but somehow I'd concluded that they were nothing I'd be interested in. I shared the same dismissive attitude as the bookstore owner in movie version of The Neverending Story, "Pah, comic books." I was proud of reading hard books without pictures ever since I'd been weaned off children's books in the second grade. And what little I had seen was full of bad dialogue and stories so overwrought that even as a child I wanted nothing to do with them.

That had changed in high school because of friend introducing me to 'graphic novels' as they were starting to be called. Something that could be read by someone who considered himself an adult and took himself very, very seriously. I remember being impressed by Watchmen, though not entirely happy with it. I still feel that way, but for different reasons. Even when I read it the story seemed a bit dated with its nuclear war obsession, the Soviet Union having just fallen apart in 1991. Now it seems even more so with more of the politics of the 1980s having become even more quaint. Not to mention the usual Hollywood way the computers were shown in.

It is an interesting story, but mostly for the hints of what it could have been. There are big ideas about what a person might become like if he could see his future and past all at once, just another dimension. But the idea is bigger than the storytellers and in the end it does not satisfy me.

I'm curious to see if the movie is any better than the book, but I doubt it will be. I don't know that anyone has the mind to wrap around how seeing fate would feel and act.

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