James wrote in the Free Form Comments
Watchmen, bloody Watchmen. Finally read my Absolute Edition, after what, 2 years? 3? (Actually, I haven't read all the scripts and stuff in the back, yet. It's a lot of book.)
It's a beautiful edition. There's recoloured versions of the regular trade now, but they don't come close to the quality of print and paper in the Absolute, and you can't imagine how different the art looks at this size. Proper gorge'.
I can't remember if I've linked to Andrew Rilstone's Watchmen essay before, but it's the best analysis I've read since Geoff's, check it out. He says he admires the comic, but can't bring himself to love it - a view I think Geoff shares, and one I've always resisted. It's not just a clinical literary exercise! It's a rollicking good story in its own right! Isn't it?
Rilstone talks a lot about Watchmen's strengths in terms of the subtext - the gags, the games, the meta-commentary and connections, aimed directly at any superhero fan/buff/historian's sweet-spot - suggesting that there's not a lot there for the uninitiated, that the face-value reading comes up lacking. I've always defended Watchmen's story in those terms, insisting that, for me at least, it's both. It's the repurposed Charlton characters AND the brave new "really real" superhero universe. The post-Vietnam Captain America AND the compelling whodunit. The Batmen spanning the political spectrum AND the magical blue willy-man.
I didn't come back to Watchmen expecting my opinion to change particularly - the book's just been in my head since all the movie (I never saw) stuff, and one really should use the nice birthday presents one receives. But my opinion did change. It was a bit of a slog, at times. Part of that was me recognising Moore's limitations as a (then) youngish writer, as highlighted Rilstone. Part of it, I think, was down to the format; big fancy hardcovers are nice, but they're nowhere near as portable or physically accessible as a little ol' magazine or paperback. So, yeah: slog. Maybe I was wrong all along, and it works better as an intricate in-joke much better than it does a Proper Story, if it even works on that level at all.
I got into it again at the end there, though. I think I'm in love with that ending, no doubt spurred on by my contrarian streak and some people's problems with it. But: no doubt about it - I'm down one Favourite Comic Book. It's quite liberating, really. I'm tempted to pop Casanova into its spot, but it's been a while, and - though I'm obsessive and anal enough to enjoy lists and categorisation as much as the next nerd - favourites aren't really all that helpful, are they?
Neither was this - sorry if it looked like I was going to make some points, or offer some insights for a second there. As usual, I'm Just Talking.
[Well we are all just talking, yeah? I would like to say a long thing about how I feel about Watchmen but a while back I turned in an essay called "The Limits of Watchmen" that looks at -- well exactly what the title says. I will direct you there when the book it is in sees print. Tim Callahan will too as I think he is in there as well.]
[James says this on the blog, and then BAM the same day the Savage Critics write about Dark Knight Strikes Again. Just thought I would link.]