Hoo boy...as of this evening, I have just read the entirety of Watchmen for the first time. I have stated many times that I do not like the story, when up til then I had only seen a few pages and learned about its premise. I've seen the movie. When all this "Before Watchmen" hubub started to come around, I vowed that I would, this year, read the book in its entirety and then put it down--while also seeing if I still didn't like it by the end of the story. Well, now that I have finished it, I've come to conclude...that my opinion has not changed. I still think that
BUT, I still recognize and respect its place in pop culture history, like I do with The Godfather (which I DID like). But now, let me tell you WHY, after having now read the whole book, I hate the story. I guess it all goes back to my aforementioned early encounters with the story. When I first learned about the premise--and this was around 2005 or so, I was born in 1991, so I did not have a great amount of exposure to actual comic books themselves--I was really taken aback by the idea of a world where superheroes weren't just flawed, they were flawed BEYOND CAPACITY. I know characters have their flaws, but not when they are taken to the extreme in this form. I hated the idea of a world so bleak by 1985, without even the faintest glimpse of hope. Post-my first reading, I grew to hate more things about the story: the sheer brutality of the Comedian and Rorschach, the declining humanity (and unabashed nakedness) of Dr. Manhattan, the cold and loathing demeanor of Ozymandias...it just reeked of everything I did not want to see in superheroes. Their environment is even worse--who wants to live in a world where Nixon never underwent Watergate and stayed in office well into the 80's? Where people apparently are still (occasionally) prone to violence even when progress is made in transportation, medicine, and energy? Where nuclear disarmament effectively never took place?? And, of all things, where PIRATE comics sell like hotcakes??? I guess this (well, except maybe the pirate comics part) could be attributed to Alan Moore having come to the US from Thatcher-era England, where things were at their most cynical and depressing. Then again, in all honesty, I simply can't stand the more eccentric comic writers like Moore, Warren Ellis, or Grant Morrison, who, most of the time, deconstruct EVERYTHING in most of the stories they write. Why can't they build something UP for once??? Is it so hard for these blokes to be hopeful once in a while???? At the end of the reading, I realized the two most basic reasons why I hate, for the life of me, the story of Watchmen:
1. I hate deconstructionism--I believe in things being built UP, not torn down, but built up. It's why films like Blade Runner--or films I have yet to see, like The Matrix--won't make my Top 10 favorites.
2. I have read many "heavy" stories since my start of reading comics in 2008--but Watchmen, I felt, was too "heavy" for me. It's too bleak, depressing, cynical, and is stained with gray. I prefer not having everything being black and white--I like black, white and gray all in a perfect harmony, like the flavors in a Neapolitan ice cream sandwich. This book, this work--even though it did wonders for the comic book medium--was too gray for me. Humanity should not be represented in the manner Moore depicts.
So, in short--I hated Watchmen. I hate what Alan Moore did to the ideal of the superhero. Now that I've read the book in its entirety, I've put it down, and will never look back.