Monday, February 09, 2009

Re-reading Watchmen

Oh, man, what a read. Watchmen is something I take off the shelf every other year or so. I knew I had to get into it again with the pending movie release and gear up on the deep, creamy lore.

I'll admit the first time I read Watchmen, lo those two decades ago, it didn't do too much for me. It was cool in some sense in just being weird and unlike the other funnybooks, but I certainly didn't "get it." I was still a Marvel Zombie, all of 13 years old, and the greater tropes of literature were a ways off.

I'm gonna say it was in high school where my reading kicked into high gear, beyond the Hardy Boys and the childhood classics and into dense sci-fi and academic required reading. My comics reading was also reaching its peak, and Watchmen was starting to see its reprints as ever-present stock in comic book stores. Picking up a trade I dove in anew to try and recall what the fuss was about, and started to see a glimmer of its genius. Now actually conscious of what a metaphor was and how it worked, Watchmen kind of blew my mind. But I still don't think I got it like older readers had.

So as it happens I got older and read it again, and then again, and Watchmen started to become very special. To those points since its publication nothing was working on Watchmen's level of layering, symbolism, dialog, and juxtaposition. More discussion was happening in readers circles, and the burgeoning web was allowing for greater discourse and dissection. I had probably peaked at my comics buying and was growing weary of the industry's circular universes and overall bloated catalog. Soon my brief career move into the comics industry itself would congeal my growing apathy and begin its slow but steady decline. With a long tail of comics buying and reading, plus a greater understanding of comics history as a whole, the meta-story of Watchmen focused like a laser as it had for the generation before mine. Few books add to themselves over repeated reading like Watchmen.

To skirt overselling, the book is a god-damn work of genius and deserves every credit for being so often cited as the best comic ever written. Like Citizen Kane and its own lofty accolades, Watchmen delivers time after time on so many points its kind of scary. What astounds me still is how Watchmen seems releveant now as much as it did the first time around, in terms of world relations and general comics industry shenanigans. There are periods where Watchmen is just a good book, and others like now where it is practically screaming in your face.

The upcoming movie can only be derivative work. Who knows what's in and what's out, because the novel's very nature prevents accurate adaptation in another medium. But damn if I'm not looking forward to it. Re-reading the novel only brought up a hundred other questions, some of which I will explore in my coming posts.

Post a Comment