Thursday, February 19, 2009

Watchmen - a review

A review of the graphic novel, that is, which I finished reading this morning.

I should start by saying that I'm generally not a fan of the comic book / graphic novel genre, though Maus and Persepolis were both very, very good, and lived up to the hype surrounding them. But both of those titles used what is an essentially frivolous medium to look at deadly serious real world issues, and I think that's why they worked. Watchmen, on the other hand - well, vigilante crime fighters in skin tight suits of primary colours isn't exactly a big stretch for a comic.

Having said that, Watchmen wasn't half bad, and it did raise some interesting issues. The first, of course, is the question that is explicitly asked by the story: Who watches the ones who watch over us? This question has been asked to death, though, so I'm not going to devote any more ink to it. Or pixels, rather. I'll move on to some of the other questions that occurred to me: Do we, individually or as a species, need to have an enemy in order to define ourselves or establish our sense of identity? Deprived of such an Other, do we necessarily create one for ourselves? And, um... what if we didn't? How would that go?

I think the answer to the first two questions is probably yes. Perhaps a nuanced yes, but one way or another, for almost all of us, yes. The third and fourth questions? H'mmm. It just occurs to me now that those are the questions I'm asking by resuming correspondence with my father. Interesting.

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