DC Comics’ “Watchmen” is an underappreciated work that has proven to be influential

Paige Berry, Entertainment Editor

Comic books are becoming more mainstream as more television shows and films are created by mashing story lines together. Many masterpieces are being overlooked by the newer generation of comic book enthusiasts for popular stories that are not even complete.

The “Infinity War” and “New Avengers” created the “Avengers” universe.  DC’s “Flashpoint” and “The Death of Superman,” as well as other story lines combined to make the “Justice League” extended universe. Similarly, Marvel’s “Sin eater” and “Planet of the Symbiotes” stories made  Sony’s “Venom.”

Yet, many forget about one comic book series that surpasses all and creates an enthralling story that brings many social issues to the forefront of the plot. World renowned writer Alan Moore in the late 1980s created one of the world’s most intriguing and groundbreaking dystopian story lines ever written, “Watchmen.”  

Released by DC Comics through 1986 and 1987, “Watchmen” is critically acclaimed from mainstream and comic book pop-culture. The New York Times declared “Watchmen” to be apart of the Top 100 Best Novels written since 1923.

In this universe, heroes helped the United States to win the Vietnam War, Watergate was never revealed and in 1985, the world was on the brink of World War III. “Watchmen” follows the story of superhero vigilantes and their experiences of persecution.

As World War III approaches, the Americans challenge the Soviet Union and this leads superhumans to choose a side; hang their cape up or become a government sponsored hero.

The group that is followed throughout is comprised of Rorschach, Silk Spectre II, Doctor Manhattan, Nite Owl II, the Comedian and Ozymandias. These character’s lives are altered forever with their difficult decision to fight with the government or become an outlaw.

The Comedian and Doctor Manhattan decide to take the US government’s deal, becoming contract Courtesy of TIME
employees. While everyone, but Rorschach hangs their costumes up for a normal life within society.

The story is presented in a non-linear format, jumping back and forth between different times in the plot. “Watchmen” also introduced a different style of panel that was non-traditional within in comic books at the time. Instead of the classic format of the most important scene being visually dominate, Moore used nine panels in each page and this was a huge shift to the visual presentation to comic books to come.

The 12 issue series tackles topics such as rape, social injustice, Reaganism politics, the existentialist movement and power within society based on social class or ability. These tough topics make this series a must read because many of these topics connect to the modern day news in forms like the #MeToo movement and societal inequality of minorities.

“Watchmen” continues to be considered one of DC Comic’s most influential work and one of Moore’s most popular pieces of work to this day. Singular issues can be purchased at local comic book stores or online, while the collection that combines all 12 issues can be easier to find online and in-stores.