I first read Watchmen issue by issue when it came out back in the mid 80s. In the past 20 years, I have read it more times than I can count and have purchased the trade paperback numerous times. I have lent it out, given it as a gift, and just plain worn it out.
So why buy the Absolute Edition?
Because it is the most gorgeous presentation of the story to date. First off, it's BIG. This edition reminds me of the sheer pleasure I once had as a kid reading oversized editions. Remember the giant-sized reprints of first editions or that humongous "Superman vs. Spider-Man?" It isn't quite that big and unwieldy, but it's big and Dave Gibbons' beautiful artwork and genious panel to panel drama is so much more enjoyable in this format. The panel backgrounds, as any fan knows, are filled with clues and details that are richer than has ever been done before or since in the medium. The backgrounds are so much more enjoyable at this size.
But the real star of this new edition is the amazing John Higgins. John Higgins is the colorist. The comic book medium has always placed the most limitations on the colorist who has had to deal with the realities of the printing process, sacrificing in every panel, trying to make dramatic and reproducible choices.
With this edition, Higgins has been able to do what was not possible when the original series was presented. The colors here are absolutely beautiful to behold. The original color schemes and the drama they invoked are here, but far smoother and more intense.
One of the most popular aspects of the story is the internal comic drama "Tales of the Black Freighter," a pirate comic that comments on the larger story. John Higgins colors these panels in the old school process of the golden age, using those old printing limitations to his advantage and making the Black Freighter panels a nostalgic delight while advancing the story in a new way. Bravo, Mr. Higgins! You have proven your worth and demonstrated why Watchmen is a graphic novel by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins. It was a delight to see your name on the spine where it has belonged all along.
This Absolute Edition of Watchmen is the most glorious version of this brilliant work. This is the ultimate proof that sequential art stories can be legitimate literature.
The book also offers wonderful material illustrating the fleshing out of the story all those years ago and how the storytellers began with the old Charleton characters only to evolve them into new characters with more depth and dimension than their inspirations.
There are also several pages of script. Anyone who has ever seen a comic book script will be amazed by the density of Alan Moore describing a single panel. One feels like quite the insider to read these pages. Each panel description reads as if an impossibly picky art collector were writing a detailed letter to Dave Gibbons to commission a painting and told him everything he wanted in a great empassioned gush. And Mr. Gibbons delivered time after time, giving far more than even Moore had asked. Wow! This is how it's done, ladies and gentlemen.
This is the greatest version of the greatest story ever told in the history of this beautiful, yet underrated medium. A must for any collector. A must for any lover of great art. A must for any lover of great storytelling.