Saturday, 19 July 2008

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? or, Who watches the watchmen?

i went to london two days ago, and came back only today

while there, i read Alan Moore's Watchmen. I have accepted that neil gaiman is not a freak, and that good, adult graphic novels, while not very common, still do get published from time to time, especialy when given the right author. Alan Moore is one of these. This is not just a book. this is a political commentary as interesting and engaging as any prose ever written, only given life with pictures.

it starts off, in the 1980s, with the death of a man. a 'costumed adventurer' investigates, despite the authorities' best efforts to keep it quiet. and so it begins.

we discover that the superheroes have largely retired, hung up their capes and tights and moved on. the world's most intelligent man is now among its wealthiest, having exploited his past as a superhero into a TV show, a toy line, and various other activities. the nuclear accident is now working for the american government, apparently protecting the american government from nuclear retaliation from the russians. laws have been passed that restrict the movement of superheroes not answering to the government. and Moore uses all of this to tell us not only an extremely compelling story, but also show us society, and ensures that it remains as valid now as it did then.

but let us not kid ourselves. this is still a comic book in the classic sense. there are crime-fighting superheroes, tremendous back stories, innumerable conspiracy theories, and mysterious killers. but there is more to it than that. it is about a choice, and the notion of 'the greater good'. the sacrifice of a few for the benefit of the many. and which ends justify means, and which don't.

go, I say. go and find the book, and read it. you dont even have to buy it. just read it.

5 comments:

Prabha Mohan said...

been wanting to read it, but cant seem to find it in my library!

worth owning u think?

s said...

definitely!
im just broke... i cant buy watchmen or y the last man. have you read that series yet?

Suhas said...

Coincidence - Having owned it for a year already, I just started reading the book (after suddenly hearing they're making a movie out of it).

s said...

i heard that too.. but moore always refuses to be connected to his films, a bit like amir khan and film awards.

Prabha Mohan said...

not the entire series but the first volume. really like it.. didnt think it was conceptually unique.. but i loved his style. very vivid and fast-paced.