Watchmen

Common Sense Media says

Retired heroes fight to save themselves in gritty classic.

Age(i)

2
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8
9
10
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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.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

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

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written bykjshi November 10, 2009
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Perfect First Graphic Novel for Mature Readers

Though it may show some images parents may not be alright with, reading it was a positive experience for me. It brought certain philosophical notions into play, contains a great deal of symbolism, and delves into the harsh reality of our world, figuratively shown in a world parallel to ours. Though the characters are morally ambiguous, it was a refreshing change to see that even heroes are human. It is much more realistic, believe it or not, than other widely accepted hero stories, which rely entirely upon our willing suspension of disbelief to thrive. Watchmen is a great Graphic Novel to start with, if you are reading your first one, but whether or not it is appropriate depends on the maturity of the reader, though i would generally say that 15 and up is a good age, and 14 would be iffy. Though there was a significant amount of drinking, smoking and sexual references and acts, based on the general plotline and the ideologies shown in the novel, it wasn't completely out of line. Whether or not the messages in the book are positive is open to interpretation, but the book as a whole questions morality and human nature in general, which I found intriguing when I read it at 15.
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
Teen, 13 years old Written byNapkap August 8, 2009
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

A Great Book

The characters are incredibly interesting. Nite-Owl II is a nerd, Rorschach is a psycho, Silk Spectre II is a depressive, The Comedian is a nihilist, Ozymandias is an insane genius, an Dr. Manhattan has lost touch with humans. Alan Moore does very well with all of these characters, and it's a great story.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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