Watchmen

Common Sense Media says

Retired heroes fight to save themselves in gritty classic.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Damaged characters host a slew of moral vices.

Violence

Exaggerated comic book violence depicts guns, explosions, mutation, hand-to-hand combat, animal abuse, and the horrors of war. One startling scene features a brief but brutal attempted rape (not explicit). In another, a pregnant woman is shot in cold blood.

Sex

Some mild sex scenes, references to prostitution, and a cartoonish porno comic called a "Tiajuana Bible."

Language

No "f--k"s, but some derogatory name-calling and swearing such as "s--t" and "goddamn."

Consumerism

Fictional brand Veidt dominates the market, but some familiar brands remain to retain realism. Big names like Kleenex and ABC make occasional appearances.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking, drug addiction, and aesthetic cigar(ette) smoking reminiscent of old Hollywood. A political cartoon caricatures a woman offering reefers and heroin to a chained "Captain America" figure.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this landmark graphic novel is meant for mature readers and contains lots of violent imagery, profane language, and events of vigilante justice. That aside, Moore and Gibbons work together to create a genre-shaping graphic novel that's as engrossing visually as it is in plot.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

When even superheroes need saving, you know you've got a major problem. In WATCHMEN's alternate history, America is on the brink of social combustion. By passing the Keene Act, the government banned vigilante justice, forcing America's greatest superheroes into retirement. Years later, the murder of The Comedian draws old colleagues back into action, but the circumstances behind his death may run far deeper than mere personal vendetta.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Renowned comic writer Alan Moore helped shape the concept of "adult comics" into a reality. With its sophisticated plot, complex characterizations, and spot-on rendering of the human condition, Watchmen is the quintessential graphic novel. Dave Gibbons' expressive, brooding illustrations complement, not carry, the literary merit of its writing. Poetic in verse and saturated with psychological realism, Watchmen is the only graphic novel thus far to make Time's "100 Best Novels" list, an accomplishment that's well earned.

On the flip side, parents may have a hard time stomaching the story's graphic violence and crass dialogue. Watchmen has come a long way from the cartoonish "POW" and "KABLAMO" of its comic book predecessors. Keep in mind that this graphic novel is meant for mature audiences and is chock full of adult themes and complex issues. That said, Watchmen is a gripping read for any fan of the science fiction or mystery genre.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the many ethical issues raised by the actions and circumstances of the characters. What is a nihilist, and how might being one affect The Comedian's actions? How does the story's alternate history differ from what happened in reality? Is it ever OK to take the law into your own hands?

Book details

Author:Alan Moore
Illustrator:Dave Gibbons
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:DC Comics
Publication date:April 1, 1995
Number of pages:416
Publisher's recommended age(s):15 - 17

This review of Watchmen was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byRoseRose October 25, 2009
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

Awesome book for adults, keep it away from the kids

LOVED it when I read it for a college class. That's what it's appropriate for. College students. Heck, I'm iffy about my 17 year old brother reading it. Definitively not for young teens, and iffy for older teens. The rape scene is more intense than the review seemed to indicate, and the violence is massive. Also, the "heroes" are deliberately morally ambiguous. No character in the story is a great role model, and the message is a morally ambiguous one. Lots of depth, and a great read for all the adults out there, but not for the kids.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bymoviemaker201 May 23, 2013
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Alan Moore is a GENIOUS!!!!!!!

Three words. Best. Book. EVER!!! When I saw the trailer for the movie, I was all like: "Wow! That looks cool!" Well, I told my friend that I was going to see it, but he said the book was way better. I took his word for it, and got it. As soon as I picked it up, I was immersed into the intricate story, believable characters, and the food for thought that it brings to readers. It begins in an alternate 1985 where Richard Nixon is still President. In this alternate world, masked vigilantism has been celebrated and supported until 1977 when the Keene Act was passed, outlawing vigilante justice. Now back to 1985. A man named Edward Blake has just been beaten severely and thrown out of a high rise building. After his murder, a vigilante who didn't hang up the mask named Rorschach (Named for his blotchy, shifting mask) investigates the scene of the crime. He discovers that he's a former partner in crime fighting called the Comedian. Because he was government sponsored, Comedian wasn't forced to step down. Was it a political killing? Comedian made lots of enemies in wars and political clashes. Maybe the murderer was a burglar. Rorschach doesn't buy it. No, he has a theory of his own: someone's killing former masks. He tries to warn other heroes, including the nostalgic Nite Owl II, the government sponsored and distant Dr. Manhattan, the super smart Ozymandias, and the childhood deprived Silk Spectre II. The plot twists and turns, taking the characters and reader on a complex roller coaster ride of a story. Violence: 9.5/10 You name it, this book's got it. And boy, does it not hold back! Attempted rape, dogs with heads split in half, implied butchery of children, and nuclear explosions taking lives of millions, the list goes on and on. This book is clearly not for the weak stomached or young readers. Sex: 8/10 Dr. Manhattan doesn't wear any clothing, resulting in male frontal and posterior nudity that is neither sexual nor graphic. Implied sexual contact with partial nudity and one close-up of a woman's breasts. Several instances of female nudity in the background of panels, but you'd have to look hard. We see a child's disturbing (though abstract) drawing of his prostitute mother and an unknown man having sex. (The penis and vagina are concealed by a messy scribble of pubic hair.) Two side characters are implied to be lesbians. Several references to rape, prostitutes, and child pornography. Language: 5/10 Some instances of Sh*t, B*tch, A**, H*ll, D*mn, and Crap. Scatterings of religious exclamations. Drinking, Drugs, and Smoking: 4/10 References to thugs taking drugs. The Comedian drinks a bit. Silk Spectre II smokes on occasion.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byCoffeeTable March 2, 2010
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

Fantastic Read with some Difficult Parts

Being a "comic" with such role models as superman and spiderman, this is entirly different. Told in a similar world but parallel reality, this book is neat to think that being a "super Hero" could be a carrer choice. The book itself is very enthrallig and i could barely put it down. Some of the scenes (75%) are taken straight from the book and into the movie shot for shot which is really neat to follow along with. While i understand the reason that the Doctor is naked, it is a little shocking at times and might be a little uncomfortable when watching with younger teens. The themes might be a little hard to grasp with the Doctors confusion of the universe, the cheating between two main characters, and the understanding/openess that the ending comes to.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Common Sense Kids Action