Posted by: kcgadiyar | October 19, 2008

Sundays With the Watchmen, Week 1: Watchmen#1 review

Dog Carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout ‘Save us!’ And I’ll look down, and whisper ‘no.’” – Rorschach writing in his journal, Watchmen#1.

Every great epic has to begin somewhere, Watchmen begins here.

For those of you who still haven’t seen the Watchmen trailer, here it is.

After the trailer was released, it quickly became the most viewed trailer on and generated a tremendous amount of interest in Watchmen as a whole. The movie is now set for release on March 6 2009. That is roughly 4 and a half months away. Alan Moore, as usual, has distanced himself from a movie made by adapting his work (who can blame him seeing the disasters that “From Hell” “The league of extraordinary gentlemen” turned out to be, of course there was also the very servicable “V for Vendetta”).

Watchmen is almost always in the top 2 in the greatest Graphic novel ranks, it trades places with “The Dark Knight Returns” on most lists. It is also a very layered story which was not supposed to actually be 12 issues long, which led to a lot of padding such as the pirate comic within a comic and the extras at the end like excerpts from Hollis Masons biography and so on.

What i am trying here is to review all 12 issues over the next 4 and a half month with the final issue being reviewed on March 5th, a day before the release of the movie. This gives me plenty of lead time to overcome laziness and actually review the issues.

The reviews will be the 12 issues(obviously), the extras like “The Black freighter” and all the articles and biographies at the end of each book. So, that will be 18 posts in total. 18 posts, 18 weeks, seems to be enough time (seems to be).

This sounds like an easy enough task, but trust me, once the first 2 issues are finished with the job of setting up the story, the series takes off and has so many memorable issues (like the spotlights on Dr.Manhattan and Rorshach) and so many different themes explored, that reviewing them will be a mammoth exercise.

So, without delay, we will start with the review of Issue#1. “At Midnight, All the agents…”

The story takes place in a dystopian America of 1985 where Richard Nixon has been elected President for life following his success in the Vietnam war. The world is heading for a nuclear showdown with retaliations from both the U.S.A and the USSR growing more dangerous. Metahumans have been outlawed thanks to the Keane Act being passed by the government. In the middle of all this, Edward Blake, also known as the former hero “The Comedian” is thrown to his death from his apartment.

This issue basically sets the groundwork for the rest of the series, the framing device for this issue is Rorschach investigating the death of the Comedian, one of the original Minutemen.

The issue is almost completely set-up as we get to see Rorschach meet his old teammates as he tries to convince them that the Comedian was murdered by someone who is targeting Metahumans. The people he meets are 

  • Dan Drieberg/ The Nite Owl -II : Dan has hung up his costume and is good friends with the original Nite Owl. In fact he is introduced in the middle of a conversation with his predecessor
  • Adrian Veidt/ Ozymandias: Veidt is now an entrepreneur and successful businessman, he made his fortune by marketing the Ozymandias name under which he used to fight crime. We sense his despondency at selling out to the system
  • Laurie Juspeczyk/ Silk Spectre -II: Laurie seems unmoved at the news of The Comedians death, for reasons which we will find out later in the series
  • Dr.Manhattan: A super-powered being. We learn more about him later in the series.
Rorschach comes across as a complete rebel to the system. He did not surrender when the Keane act was passed and operates on the wrong side of the law. His journal in which he constantly records his thoughts is probably the only humanising aspect of his personality, since from this issue alone, we find him to be a distant figure.
The issue works as what it is supposed to be, an introduction to our main players while also giving us hints as to what the overall plot is. There are no huge revelations in this issue, but it is surely an intense one. I remember that it took me close to an hour to read it fully the first time, thats how well it is scripted, there is a constant sense of foreboding. All in all, an amazing start to what would become the most celebrated miniseries of all time. 
Dave Gibbons’ artwork complements Alan Moores writing perfectly, a very entertaining read, brilliantly crafted and hooks you and makes you anticipate upcoming issues.
I recommend finding the TPB if you can, read this.
Rating for the first Issue: 4/5, it does its job and can be appreciated a lot more once the whole series is completed.


Until Next Time, 




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  2. Wait till you reach no 4/5 . It gets very confusing at that moment. Maybe you can explain it to me 🙂

  3. @Batman: Number 4 is my personal favorite issue, so reviewing it will be a joy. But yes, the 5th issue is confusing. Will try my best to make sense of it. 🙂 . BTW, nice hearing from you, where are you now, in India itself?

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