I’ll get this off my chest first – why an alien, Veidt? I think the movie had it better (it is just an explosion – mind you not near as horrific as the comic book’s depiction).
So Watchmen is at heart, a graphic novel, which seems to be an increasingly popular medium for literature on a global scale. Personally I found that Watchmen’s story couldn’t have been told as well in a typical piece of prose. If the picture-only panels were instead replaced with text, and the combining panels of both text and images replaced with slightly more text, I feel that the text would not rise above the ordinary. So much of this piece, in my opinion, owes credit to the text. Specifically the beginning of Chapter 12, which are solely pictures of countless dead bodies and destroyed landscapes. To this day, something which not even Survival in Auschwitz could capture (despite how great it was), I have yet to read text which can encapsulate the feeling of pure trauma. It seems most novelists try to deal with the impact of trauma by simply mimicking its forms and symptoms, side-showing temporality and chronology, and offering repetitive narratives. Watchmen has many more ways to do this because it is a graphic novel, and has access to many stylistic options – such as disregarding it’s conventional 9-panel grid and replacing the first few pages of Chapter 12 with just full panel pictures. Instead of confusing the reader, which seems to unfortunately result from most prose fiction writers trying to create trauma through solely means of text, graphic novels have the capability to switch in and out of essentially movie like techniques – framing, wide-angle shots, fragmented narratives – all whilst still making sense.
Other than that, the drawings are really good, and that just helps you better envision the world of Watchmen. There are a ton of easter eggs and symmetrical images in the text that you would not be able to subtly include in a plain text.
I liked it a lot overall. Also it was probably the first book in this course I read 3 times over….