I'd read part of the Watchmen story many years ago. I think I started somewhat in the middle of the story and was a little confused as to what was going on and who each character was and what the motives were. Reading it all the way through, I can see the potential for confusion just jumping in. There were a few times where the various threads were a little confusing, but generally everything is presented in a very interesting and accessible way.
The artwork and the story line are wonderful. I really enjoyed the organizational style of the book. At times it felt a little soap-opera-esque in that there were three or four fairly core story threads all happening simultaneously and the narrative bounced around quickly between them.
Through the presentation and organization, I was able to determine the mystery antagonist early on. And yet, even knowing who was responsible, I couldn't put my finger on the motive or exactly how everything was going to play out. The story has sooo many elements working together and playing with one another. When everything came together, I was definitely shocked and surprised by the motives and the way the finality was organized. I also felt that most of my questions were answered but that there were still a few loose threads I'm not quite sure about.
Still, in one of the stranger and more allegorical threads, it ended with a line something like "I have to keep re-reading everything because I don't understand what happened." To me, I found that particular plot thread to be a metafictional commentary on the plot of the book as a whole. By ending it in that way, I think the authors are telling me that they expect me to come away confused on the first reading, but to get more insight with subsequent reads. And looking back in my mind at the material I read, I can see where that could be true.
I definitely enjoyed this story. I've really enjoyed most everything I've read from Moore. His stories are creative and thought provoking. Sometimes a little more extreme than I might ordinarily seek out, but I still come away from his books with new thoughts in my head. I'm still bummed that the movie got an "R" rating. I can see where the director would have liked to have pushed for the "R", but at the same time, I can see where some conscious choices could have kept it at a solid "PG-13" (I personally feel that the novel itself is closer to PG-13 than R, but that could be the desensitized Okie talking).
Anyway, this is one of those graphic novels that deserves the accolades it's received. I can't necessarily recommend it to everyone because I know there are those who will be put off either by its theme or by the media (...those who say "it's just a comic book"). But to those who are willing to stretch their reading opinions and their sensitivities, I definitely recommend this book.
4 stars (out of 5)