Watchmen is a graphic novel based in an alternate 1985, where Richard Nixon is still President. Costumed heroes have been outlawed, except for those sponsored by the government. The fear is that people with that much power can wreak havoc if unchecked. The story starts off with the death of The Comedian, a costumed hero that has done a great deal of work for the government. Rorschach, another costumed hero, one that is not government sponsored, finds his death very suspicious. He investigates his death, and the eventual deaths of other costumed heroes. The character profiles and personalities are not particularly original, especially to those big into comic books, but they are based on tried and true characters that work.
The time setting is obviously dated, but story itself could easily be adapted to the present day. There is plenty of detail, both in the writing and the artwork, that will make you want to read this over so that you don’t miss anything. There are some excerpts from an biography written by one of the characters that do give some important details to the back story, but they can be a bit long and dry. It would have been nice if these details were worked in more seamlessly with some artwork, rather than the excerpts used.
Overall, the book is a great work of art. With the movie due out in less than a week, I recommend reading it before seeing the movie. I think the movie will be good, but will not do the book justice. It will be a tough story to adapt to film. The excerpts I mentioned earlier will have to be told instead of read. Something I neglected to mention, the comic within the comic, will hopefully make it into the film in some way or another. It is not key to the story, but it is one of those little touches of detail that makes the book great.