Watchmen is an American comic book maxiseries by the British creative team of writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons and colorist John Higgins. It was published monthly by DC Comics in 1986 and 1987 before being collected in a single-volume edition in 1987.
Moore used the story as a means to reflect contemporary anxieties and to deconstruct and satirize the superhero concept. Watchmen depicts an alternate history in which superheroes emerged in the 1940s and 1960s and their presence changed history so that the United States won the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal was never exposed. In 1985, the country is edging toward World War III with the Soviet Union, freelance costumed vigilantes have been outlawed and most former superheroes are in retirement or working for the government. The story focuses on the personal development and moral struggles of the protagonists as an investigation into the murder of a government-sponsored superhero pulls them out of retirement.
A commercial success, Watchmen has received critical acclaim both in the comics and mainstream press. Watchmen was recognized in Time’s List of the 100 Best Novels as one of the best English language novels published since 1923.
Watchmen is highly regarded in the comics industry and is considered by several critics and reviewers as comics’ greatest series and graphic novel. In addition to being one of the first major works to help popularize the graphic novel publishing format alongside The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen has also become one of the best-selling graphic novels ever published. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly placed Watchmen at number 13 on its list of the best 50 novels printed in the last 25 years, describing it as “The greatest superhero story ever told and proof that comics are capable of smart, emotionally resonant narratives worthy of the label ‘literature’.