In summer 1986, DC Comics published the first issue of Watchmen, a twelve-issue maxiseries by a trio of English comic book creators: writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins. Watchmen begins with police discussing the dead body of a former vigilante-turned-government agent named the Comedian. Another vigilante named Rorschach investigates the Comedian’s death, drawing in a range of former superheroes and eventually discovering a massive conspiracy set in motion by one of their colleagues—although a linear plot summary scarcely does justice to the complicated structure of flashbacks, flash-forwards, and textual intercutting that composes the story. Widely acknowledged as a landmark work in the history of comics, Watchmen also merits consideration as an example of a host of changes to the comics form that occurred, or were set in motion, during the 1980s.

This essay may be found on page 217 of the printed volume.

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