So I have been somewhat curious about the new Watchmen movie coming out, and due to my favorite movie review website posting things like this and this, Matt went and dug out his copy of the graphic novel for me. I have never read graphic novels, and have only a moderate interest in superheroes (I didn't enjoy that last Batman but I adored Iron Man, which may or may not have anything to do with Robert Downey Jr. and The Dude). This one seems to be pretty epic, as graphic novels go. The top of the heap. Alan Moore and Frank Miller are pretty much the only two graphic novel authors I have heard of, and pretty much all I had determined was that I won't give Frank Miller my money for anything ever again until he writes a female character that a. survives the entire storyline and b. is not a whore. So far I'm pretty safe. Alan Moore's biggies seem to be Watchmen and V for Vendetta, which I remember thinking was an interesting concept. I just put in a request for it, as our library, awesomely enough, carries graphic novels.
I am about 3/4 of the way through the Watchmen as of right now. It is bleak. None of the superheroes are black-and-white, they are multi-dimensional people who are trying to do something to make the world better and they are not exactly popular anymore. There are a lot of flashbacks to the heyday of the superheroes when they were popular and capital-A American. This also entails them successfully helping end the Vietnam War so at the time that most of the book is set in, Nixon is in his fifth term as president. There is a big Russian shadow looming but the superheroes have been outlawed, and one of them has just been murdered. There have been attempts on other former superheroes lives. And a couple of ex-supers are getting together to figure out what's going on.
Seems moderately straightforward. However, one of the supers has actual superpowers, due to a glossed-over nuclear incident. He has been America's real protection against international incidents for the last several years (part of the success in Vietnam is credited to him). And he is getting disillusioned with the regular people that he has been protecting. So at this point in our story, he has been driven off by bad publicity and has retreated to Mars. And the Russians are starting to arm themselves and get a little antsy since he's gone.
So it's a combo of flashbacks to the good old days, the story of the non-super supers trying to figure out who is orchestrating the murders of the "masks" as they call themselves, and the one really super one contemplating whether the human race is worth saving. And the way it's going, I am not totally sure it won't end with everyone dying in a massive nuclear holocaust. It is starting to make me less interested in seeing the movie. Because there's no way they can get all the nuances and complexities of the story shoehorned in, and they are going to have to update the political situation somewhat to make it relevant to modern audiences since it's going on 25 years old. And did I mention it's fucking bleak. I am realizing why I liked Iron Man so much. This thing is not any fun. It has very little in the way of sympathetic characters, and honestly, I think if it was a book it'd be just as easy to read. The art is not what I'm interested in, shall we say. But the plot has got me hooked.
Also, Rorschach (a.k.a. the most interesting character) is being played by the littlest Cutter from Breaking Away (in the striped shirt on the far left), the world's most awesome cycling movie. Part of me wants to watch that instead.
But, tellingly, there is no way that I am going to do anything right now other than go finish reading this thing.
And according to Wikipedia, the Hugo Awards made up a whole new category just so they could give this thing a Hugo. They never did it again.