I've finally finished Watchmen. I say finally because I actually started reading it back in 1990 I think. Everyone was going on and on about how it was THE best comic out there, so much ground-breaking stuff it was just going to blow your mind. So I started reading it and quickly got bored with it. Some of it was just confusing like the unnecessary and sometimes unmarked time jumps. Some of it was annoying like the parallel pirate adventure that runs through most of it. I gave up without ever finishing it.
Now it's back. Next spring, Zack Snyder, the guy who turned in a fabulous version of 300, is bringing Watchmen to the screen. I've seen several interviews with him online and seen the trailer for it and so that rekindled my interest. CC has a copy given to her as a gift so I decided I'd sit down and read it all the way through this time. Today I finished it and to be honest, I wasn't that impressed by it.
To be fair, I wasn't overly impressed by V for Vendetta either when I first read it and it turned out to be great summer film. I imagine Watchmen will be about as good, though unlike V, Watchmen doesn't have any really obvious heroes.
I know there are a lot of fans out there of Watchmen. If you dig into the reviews from when it was first released, people went nuts over it. Over and over again you read about how fresh the work is and how unlike any other comic it was. It's supposed to be a brilliant satire on super heroes and it's just DRIPPING with social commentary. Yeah, it's a satire, that much is obvious. Sometimes it's actually TOO obvious. Too many cliches I suppose. There are times when you have to wonder just what is being satirized and when that happens, what you end up with is a confusing, failed satire. As for the edgy, social commentary, seen from 20 years in the future, it reads more like paranoia.
I remember in one of the interviews with Snyder, he talks about how, after a screening of some raw footage of Watchmen, a studio exec said that it made Superman look stupid. A remark like that makes me wonder just how much exposure to modern comic books this studio exec has had. This sort of thing may have been cutting edge back in the 80's but now? Seen it. Been there, done that over and over to the point that it's lost any shock value. Maybe this will seem fresh and exciting to folks who only have limited contact to graphic novels but to me, it just seems dated. At best it fits in with the running theme of nostalgia that's woven through the story. For teens and young adults today I doubt this will make much of an impression. They've seen these type of plot twists before on CSI and Law and Order.
Will I see it? Probably. Snyder did a great job with 300 and said he was going to be as true to the original story as possible. That's got me curious already. The story is populated with so many unlikable heroes I have to wonder how that's going to translate on film (a concern the author had as well which is why his name doesn't appear in the credits). So, yes, I'll be in the theater with everyone else, hoping that it turns out to be at least as good as V. But I won't be one of those priests of the church of the Watchmen and run around preaching how wonderful it is. Maybe it's just a matter of taste. I like the concept, I like the idea, it's well-written. It's a good read, I don't consider it time wasted. But at the same time, I also don't consider it comic perfection.