At conservative media-watchdog site Newsbusters, the rapid approach of the Watchmen movie leaves writer Warner Todd Huston gnashing his teeth over the “anti-American nihilism” of the Alan Moore-Dave Gibbons miniseries:
Graphically, it isn’t very well drafted. It does have the benefit of being created in the semi-realist style that began to be popular in the 1980s though. which instantly makes it better than today’s comics drawn in that horrible Japanese Anime/Manga style that has so pervaded the comic book industry of late. Thankfully, Watchmen’s was not yet an era infected by this regrettable, current trend in US comic art.
As to subject matter, it wasn’t “just a comic book.” It hit all the 80’s hot-button issues. Homosexuality, rape, war with Russia and “the bomb,” crooked US politicians, corruption, murder, sexual impotency, welfare mammas, and homicidal maniacs were all aspects of the story line. It even indulges in demonization of Nixon directly, and Ronald Reagan by inference. But it’s philosophy of nihilism and anarchy was its underlying message.
Now I’ve read plenty of criticism of Watchmen, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it described as not “very well drafted.” (I’ll ignore Huston’s broad critique of the art in “today’s comics,” because, well … aside from being ill-informed, the use of words like “pervaded” and “infected” hints at a bit more than a longing for superheroes to be drawn like they were when he was 12.)
“It’s all pretty dark and cynical,” Huston writes, certainly shocking anyone who’s viewed the trailers for the movie, or even read about the landmark comic.
Why, oh why, couldn’t Moore have used his powers for good? Take it away, Mr. Huston:
One wishes that writer, Moore, could have used his considerable talents to produce uplift as opposed to depression, to reach for the sublime instead of the prosaic, to inspire by taking the high road instead of the low. But, unfortunately, with the influence of the political view from the left upon him all he could do was take the low road. If all one can do is see the worst in man, claim nothing is ever worth the effort, and that western ideas have destroyed any vestige of light in man then you are doomed to stay on that low road. So, we end up with despair and darkness in our art, too many artists having taken the low road.
Just as sadly, we see that the political Left hasn’t learned much since 1986. They still see the west as causing all of the world’s problems, still see capitulation to our enemies as the right course of action, and still feel that Patriotism and right and wrong are words with meaningless distinctions or, worse, even dangerous concepts.
Moore has lamented that his work with Watchmen had “started a whole genre of pretentious comics or miserable comics,” but since he insisted on taking that low road, but what could he expect? His politics, if emulated, ends up at this very place.