Watchmen is really an American comic-book limited collection created by DC Comics in 1986 and 1987, and collected in 1987. The series was made by a British effort composed of author Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins. Watchmen descends from a tale proposal Moore published to DC featuring superhero personas that the company had acquired from Charlton Comics. As Moore’s proposed story might have left most of the characters unusable for future stories, managing editor Dick Giordano convinced Moore to make original characters instead.
Moore used the storyline as a means to reflect modern anxieties and also to deconstruct and parody the superhero concept. Watchmen depicts an alternate history where superheroes surfaced in the 1940s and 1960s, enhancing the United States to win the Vietnam War. In 1985, the nation is edging toward nuclear war with the Soviet Union, freelance costumed vigilantes happen to be outlawed and most former superheroes are in retirement or working for the government. The storyline focuses on the private development and moral struggles of the protagonists as an investigation in to the murder of the government backed superhero pulls them out of retirement.
Artistically, the focus of Watchmen is on its structure. Gibbons used a nine-panel grid layout through the collection and included repeating symbols for instance a blood-stained smiley face. All but the last issue feature supplemental imaginary documents that add to the series’ backstory, and the narrative is connected with that of another story, an in-story pirate comic titled Tales of the Black Freighter, which from the personas reads. Organized, sometimes, as a nonlinear narrative, the story skips through space, time and plot. In the same manner, entire scenes and dialogue have parallels with others through synchronicity, coincidence and repeated imagery.
A commercial success, Watchmen has received critical recognition both in the comics and mainstream press, and is considered by a number of experts and reviewers as one of the most significant works of Twentieth century literature. Watchmen was recognized in Time’s List of the 100 Best Novels as one of the best English language novels published since 1923, and placed #91 on The Comics Journal’s listing of the top 100 comics from the Twentieth century.
After a number of tries to adapt the collection into a feature film, director Zack Snyder’s Watchmen was released in 2009. A video game series, Watchmen: The End Is Nigh, was released in the same year to coincide with the film’s release. In 2012, DC Comics started publishing Before Watchmen, a comic-book series acting as a prequel to the original Watchmen series, without Moore and Gibbons’ involvement.