Absolute Watchmen: An Overview

By Andy Frisk
February 22, 2009 - 16:11


This oversized, hardback, book cover toting, slip case included Absolute Edition of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s dystopian tale of superheroes in a future-past world on the brink of nuclear annihilation is the absolute ultimate edition for Watchmen lovers.

Besides the edition’s physical attributes like the aforementioned hearty hardback characteristics, the oversized nature of the pages breathes new life into Moore and Gibbon’s paned by panel, painstakingly detailed unfolding of the story.  The larger than standard comic book pages reveal to the eye all of the small details rendered in each panel that drop hints, foreshadow, and reveal plot secrets.


As Watchmen fans and readers are aware of, it is these little hidden gems, many only discovered after multiple readings that makes Watchmen so appealing a read.  For example, by the time we finally get Rorschach’s face revealed at the end of Chapter V, how many of us actually, at that moment, realize that we caught a glimpse of it all the way back in the third panel of Chapter I?  The oversized pages allow us to relive those simple joys again in super-sized fashion.

DC Absolute Editions are also known for their “behind the scenes” specials.  In Absolute Watchmen we get several such sections, after the collected tale proper, entitled: “The World”; “Dr. Manhattan”; “Ozymandias”; “Nite-Owl”; “Rorschach”; “The Comedian”; “Silk Spector”; “Minutemen”; “Clocking On”; and “Seconds.”  These sections are bookended by after-words by Moore and Gibbons, each dated January 1988.


In “The World” section we get an explanation of the world, as Moore sees it, that his characters will exist in.  It is interesting to note that the characters as originally conceived were to be the Charlton characters, which DC had acquired at some point previously.  The groundwork laid for the Watchmen Universe is dense and very detailed.  It also, as Watchmen readers know, is very gritty and realistic.

character sketches


In the character titled sections we get a breakdown of each of the main costumed adventurers that includes which Charlton character they are modeled on, some insightful psychological and social commentary on them and their motivations, as well as how they fit politically and culturally in the society they inhabit.


In “Clocking On” we get some interesting sample art from Watchmen as well as a “continuity sample predating first script” page of never published art.  There are several pages of rare, rough and promotionally produced artwork and unused cover variations.  Most interestingly though, we get reproductions of sections of Moore’s script including a full page where Moore scripts one panel.  Yes, one full page is used to script one panel.  Remember that attention to detail we talked about earlier?  Moore’s partial script reproductions in the Absolute Edition are perhaps as close as we can get to Moore’s creative process and the thought he put into the story.

character sketches


Finally, in “Seconds” we get some reproductions of the cover for the Mayfair Games role-playing module, some overseas edition cover variants and an early Watchmen t-shirt design.


Overall, even at the rather steep price of $75.00 US/$100.00 CAN, The Absolute Watchmen Edition is well worth the cost, especially to Watchmen fans and those whose interest is piqued by the upcoming film.  There really isn’t a better way to experience Watchmen for the first or 100th time.


Rating: 10 /10

Last Updated: December 31, 2019 - 20:28

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