When I think of the Watchmen, the first thing I remember is the vacation I spent reading it. I think I was at a friend’s house. I know I don’t remember much about the days around it. I spent so many hours just immersed in the book, pouring over the details, trying to catch every hint, every nuance.
When I got to the end, I recall now, I was very disappointed. Ozymandius let me down. Instead of something really intelligent, he performed the very kind of ‘ends justify the means’ nonsense I most hate.
But somehow, I forgot about that in the years to come. I only remembered the delightful process of reading it and my affection for Night Owl and Silk Specter. I remembered it with love.
Until Lost Girls came out. One day, I was bemoaning how this comic book writer I liked so much from Watchman could come up with an idea that was so pathetic, and I suddenly remembered the end of Watchmen and how it violated everything I stood for – ideas I was much more aware I stood for now than I had been back when I read it years ago. It was like waking up suddenly noticing that the Emperor has no clothes.
And I stopped liking Watchmen, there and then.
Looking back, what sucked me in, both to Watchmen and to Promethea, was the promise of heroism, the promise of mystic wonder (in the second instance.) A promise never delivered. Instead, what was delivered was something that would have made Franchezzo’s ancestor proud.* A degradation of good things that made later degradations easier to swallow.
So, I’m not going to see the movie.
* In A Wanderer In The Spirit Lands, (written in 1896) Franchezzo travels to Hell and meets an ancestor of his who had been influencing him during his life. The ancestor tries to get Franchezzo, who is now dead, to stay with him and help him corrupt the living. Franchezzo reports:
Again, I saw the power in intellect and in literature which I could control and influence through the imaginative descriptive faculties of mortals who, under my prompting, would write such books as appealed to the reason, the intellect, and the sensual passions of mankind, until the false glamour thrown over them should cause men to view with indulgence and even approval the most revolting ideas and the most abominable teachings.