“Rorschach’s journal – April 6, 2016. Seven years ago I starred in one of the greatest cinematic triumphs of all time. In it the streets were extended gutters, and the gutters were full of critics, and when the drains finally scabbed over, the fans looked up and shouted save us, and Zack Snyder whispered “Yes”.
Seven years ago today, the greatest piece of comic book fiction ever wrought was finally released on film by visual auteur Zack Snyder. His triumphant cinematic reworking of the supposedly unfilmable comic series from the eighties was hailed by the fans as a masterpiece of modern dystopian Superhero cinema, but received tepid reviews from critics (Mmmm, now this seems familiar).
(Warning: Spoilers ahoy)
The Watchmen limited comic series was released by DC Comics in 1986, it was a collaborative effort of three superstar British comic book creators, Writer Alan Moore, Artist Dave Gibbons and Artist/Colourist John Higgins. Moore originally posited to DC that he wanted to use their acquired Charlton Comics characters as the basis for the story, but DC’s managing editor of the time Dick Giordano, persuaded Moore to create new characters instead, as the usage of DC’s now integrated (into the DC universe) Charlton heroes would have rendered them almost unusable in future timelines because of the direction they would have taken as a result of Moore’s suggested storyline.
Alan Moore is widely regarded as the greatest comic book author of all time, apart from Watchmen, Moore also introduced us to V for Vendetta, Batman: The Killing Joke and The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but it is Watchmen that propelled Moore to the rank of numero uno in the highly competitive comic book market.
Alan Moore’s writing usually takes a dark and dystopian route through pre-existing tropes, subverting and twisting characters to fit into his alternate timelines. Watchmen is a satirical look at superheroes, that reflects the era it was written, be it through the politics of the time (80’s Britain was a particularly political hot-bed) or emerging trends and people’s apprehension of the future.
Watchmen is set in an alternate 1985, and follows masked vigilante Rorschach as he and other retired members of the Superteam – Crimebusters, investigate the murder of one of their former colleagues – The Comedian. In Moore’s universe, costumed heroes first appeared in the 1940’s, and were a collection of former Police officers and disgruntled citizens who ‘masked up’ to take down an increasing number of criminals who had taken to wearing costumes to disguise themselves from recognition.
In the early eighties with the world on the brink of a nuclear holocaust, and with an outcry by the general populace against masked vigilantes, costumed heroes were outlawed, and most faded into retirement or (in the case of the Comedian and Dr Manhattan) went to work covertly for the Government. Rorschach though continued to fight crime unsanctioned, wanted by the Police he refused to abandon his principles and castigated his former team-mates for their cowardice in the face of the costumed vigilante ban.
After the murder of The Comedian, Rorschach manages to convince former team-mates, Nite-Owl II and Silk Spectre II to come out of retirement and help investigate what he believes is a conspiracy to kill members of the Crimebusters. Moore’s take on Superheroes is not for the faint of heart, it is a mature and sometimes shocking take on a popular medium, set in a totalitarian, regressive society consumed with fear and anxiety.
Unto this premise comes visual mastermind director Zack Snyder, riding high on his successful conversion of Frank Miller’s “300” graphic novel, he set his sights on DC’s Watchmen, and in 2009 presented us with perfection in comic book to film form. His film mirrored its source material beautifully, condensing the story somewhat, but still supplying every nuance and important depth of plot that the original comic series conveyed. His choice of actors were astonishingly close to their fictional selves, especially the casting of Jackie Earle-Haley as titular protagonist Rorschach. This film has ultimately become the cornerstone of Zack Snyder’s career, only recently equalled (in our humble opinion) by his take on DC’s Trinity in Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, which shares many similarities to Watchmen in both tone and visual style.
Seven years on and Watchmen is now more highly regarded amongst its former critics, still loved by the fans and is one of the first ‘R’ rated (18 rated here in the UK) Superhero movies, long before characters like Deadpool were ever conceived for the big screen. Snyder’s film is visually enthralling, deep and concise in its portrayal of the original classic series, as much a must watch now as it ever was, not only one of the greatest comic book movies of all time… but literally one of the greatest movies of all time!
Who Watches The Watchmen?… You Should!
Borag Thungg fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo, and welcome back to another instalment of “Great British Comic Book Characters,” Precinct1313‘s episodic look at the UK’s biggest selling and highly influential weekly anthology comic; 2000AD.
Over the previous five instalments of this ongoing series, I have gradually introduced you to the characters and creators of the “Galaxy’s Greatest Comic,” what first motivated me to begin a series on 2000AD was initially the fact that, apart from Judge Dredd, the majority of classic characters from this mighty tome are rather unknown to the world outside of the British isles. Fantastic creations such as Nemesis the Warlock, Rogue Trooper, Zenith and Strontium Dog have rich backstories, superstar creators and close to 40 years of history, yet still remain in relative obscurity. Having grown up alongside these characters, I decided to utilise my blog to promote, as best as I could, these groundbreaking comic characters and hopefully draw more appreciation and proclivity towards characters I believe are deserving of a far larger audience than they currently receive.
Released in the UK on December 7, “Future Shock! The Story Of 2000AD” is an 106 minute documentary that charts the rise of Britain’s favourite comic-book, offering up a dynamic and comprehensive overview of the comic that includes a look at the various highs and lows of the comics history, and extensive coverage of the creative process behind the scenes of the long running megazine. Documenting how a band of Britain’s most talented and eclectic comic talent came together to create the visionary publication, and guest starring a swathe of said talent including; Neil Gaiman, Pat Mills, John Wagner, Grant Morrison and Dave Gibbons, plus recent “Dredd” actor Karl Urban is also on hand to profess his adoration for 2000AD‘s world famous grim protector of the law.
Future Shock! is directed by Paul Goodwin, who has, as previously mentioned, assembled an iconic group of talent for interviews and nostalgic musings on their past glories. Especially entertaining, as always, is the fantastic Pat Mills, who rages and rants humorously on the ups and downs of the comic’s (at times) tempestuous past, Mills alone is worth the asking price, one of the greatest talents in the UK industry, he never pulls his punches and always tells things as they are, his part in this documentary is legendary!.
The documentary itself mostly consists of the aforementioned interviews alongside various illustrations, also included though are some impressive animations courtesy of Zebra Post, with the opening sequence being a particular stand-out piece. The docu mainly covers the 70’s and 80’s of 2000AD‘s long history, but does touch on the 90’s, especially on sister publication Judge Dredd: The Megazine.
At over 100 minutes long, this fantastic look at 2000AD is a must have for fans of the comic, but also offers up an intriguing study of British comics in a time when the UK was going through a considerable transition in politics, music and outlook, 2000AD embraced and used these changes to produce an intelligent and sometimes hilariously subversive comic that almost predominantly helped evolve not just the comic book scene in Britain, but ultimately the across the planet itself.
Precinct1313 Rating: Zarjaz!!