With the rapid approach of the Watchmen movie there's been renewed discussion of the Alan Moore-Dave Gibbons miniseries as a "gateway comic" that could introduce more readers to the medium.
DC Comics took things a step further with its "After Watchmen, What Next?" promotion, $1 reprints of five of its titles that could serve as the cocaine to Watchmen's marijuana.
But the A.V. Club's Leonard Pierce asserts that Watchmen isn't the gateway to superhero comics; Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman is.
"Any one of [Morrison's] portrayals of Superman’s supporting cast, from the arrogant Lex Luthor to the headstrong Lois Lane to the irrepressible Jimmy Olsen, could stand as the definitive one," Pierce writes, "and his Superman, perfectly integrated with his human side and heavy on the science-fiction elements that made his Silver Age stories so appealing, is pitch-perfect."
And after that? Why, the Marvel Mastework collections of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four and Lee and Steve Ditko's Amazing Spider-Man. Or Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Batman: Year One.
Or ... just not Watchmen, which Pierce rightly says benefits "a great deal from a prior grounding in the conventions of the genre."