It's been a while since I've read Watchmen, but with the movie coming out soon I wanted to write down what I remember before the revisionist history completely erases all memory of the original graphic novel.
I sometimes find it odd that this graphic novel clearly intended for children has been listed on several lists of the best novels and is on almost every list of the best graphic novels. Yet this story of clowns and robots has become the most famous graphic novel in history.
One of the major changes appears to be the elimination of three characters. I have no proof of this but it appears that only the more popular characters of, Night Owl, Dr. Manhattan, Silk Specter, Ozymandias, Rorschach and The Comedian. This completely ignores the characters of Bullet, Monsoon and Murk.
This not only eliminates Murk, my favorite character but one of the ethnic characters Monsoon. It also eliminates one of the major scenes where Monsoon stops a giant mutant turtle from destroying New York with his water powers, but I should start at the beginning.
The first of the six books focuses on the true hero of the story. Due to a misunderstanding The Comedian had been put into a cryogenic prison for fifty years bringing him into the year 2015 where the majority of the story takes place. Here he is made a Judge and given the power to arrest, convict and punish criminals. This organization is called the Watchmen and nearly all of the main characters are part of it.
The second changes pace from the action of the first book and focuses almost entirely on the relationship of the Silk Specter and Bullet. This relationship lasts through the entire length of the entire series but is most emphasised here, beginning when the Silk Specter as a young girl uses her invisibility to save him from the alien which has come to earth to hunt humans with his advanced technology and stealth abilities and ends only when the Bullet dies when a giant spear is thrust through his chest when he is attempting to land their ship, though there is some ambiguity about if it is an accident or not and is one of the reasons that many people conjecture that the original plan was to make Watchmen an ongoing series.
The third book introduces the character of Rorschach the shape shifting mutant and his twelve year old Asian sidekick Monsoon who travel the world fighting the Lacoom, an invasion fleet which is ultimately defeated when Rorchach discovers a way to infect their mother ship with a computer virus, but just as they are about to claim final victory the aliens launch their final weapon. It is at the end of this story that Monsoon saves new york when Monsoon fights the giant mutant turtle in one of the best
fight scenes of the books shot entirely from the point of view of a single camera in the hands of a drunken partier unable to stop his hands from constantly shaking.
Next was a book that focused on Dr. Manhattan, a 15 foot tall, nuclear powered, robot created by the evil Dr. Nimbus but who turned good thanks to a programming glitch. The motives of this character were never completely clear and became even more muddled in the strange time traveling scenes at the end of the sixth and final book, but this book was one of the stronger parts of the Watchmen as he infiltrated the virtual reality created by the other robots. It was in this VR that he traveled to the center of the galaxy where he fought Dr. Nimbus who was pretending to be god.
The fifth book focuses on a team of heroes, Night Owl, one of the weaker of the watchmen with only night vision and the ability to fly, Ozymandias, a character similar in some ways to Iron man, though his suit was was given to him by a interdimentional crime fighting organization called Sliders, and Murk, who had the ability to turn into a shadow and even control darkness.
I believe it was in this book that Alan Moore began to recognise that the 6 issues he was being given would not be enough to easily tie up all the plot lines and he began to drop hints of a time machine. These hints include Dr. Manhattan speaking several times of the future and Ozymandias buying a delorian, but the true action of this comic book centered around Mick Monro a billionaire who infiltrates the groups secret lair at the north pole and demands to be made ruler of Australia or he will reveal their secret, but at the last moment Murk is able to shoot a bolt of shadows down the heating vent of Mick Monro's moving castle and killing the army of ape men who were preparing to replace humanity.
In the sixth and final book of the Watchman series the entire cast of heroes uses Ozymandia's time machine to return to 1776 where they help to write the constitution of the newly forming United States government, subtly installing ideas which will create a future world where mutants and humans will be able to live in peace, but their plans are nearly ruined when British Major Nobby Cleaver attacks the continental congress with a giant mechanical spider.
Many of the major characters are killed in this epic battle but in the end The Comedian is able to slip into the heart of the spider and use his memory erasing pen to stop the enemy. They then return to the future to find that thanks to their meddling in history Hitler won World War II, though in a hastily drawn conclusion Dr. Manhattan is able to stop this new history by convincing The Comedian not to save a young magician from drowning in a failed magic trick.
In conclusion I would like to remind everyone that it has been quite some time since I read the watchmen and some of my memories may be slightly off but these marginal inconsistencies in my memory do not alleviate my concerns that in a vein attempt to mimic the cash cow Batman and Robin they will make all of the characters into normal people with no powers and turn this into a dark story which deconstructs the entire concept of superheroes, focusing far more on their personal struggles than on the fantastic fight scenes against massive robot armies and alien invasions.