Watchmen, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, was published by DC Comics as a twelve-issue limited-series comic book during 1986 and 1987. Afterwards, it was collected as a bound graphic novel.

The first chapter is set in 1985 in an alternate-reality New York City. The police arrive at the home of Edward Blake, otherwise known as the Comedian. Upon investigation, the police piece together that someone broke into Blake’s home, engaged in a vicious fight with him, and threw him through the plate-glass window. Rorschach, a member of the retired group of crime fighters known as the Watchmen, hears about Blake’s death and begins his own underground investigation. He believes that someone is out to assassinate all the previous Watchmen. Rorschach decides to warn all the members of the group about his suspicions. He first visits Dan Dreiberg, the former Nite Owl II, and chastises Dan for quitting crime fighting. Rorschach then visits Adrian Veidt, the former Ozymandias; Jon Osterman, known to the world as Dr. Manhattan; and Laurie Juspeczyk, the former Silk Spectre II. After Rorschach leaves the compound where Jon and Laurie live, Laurie reminisces about Dan and the two meet for dinner, during which they recall their days as the Watchmen.

At the beginning of Chapter 2, the scene swaps between Edward Blake’s funeral and a visit to Sally Juspeczyk by her daughter Laurie. During the visit, Sally picks up a photograph of the original group of Watchmen and flashes back to her relationship with Eddie. After the group’s photo shoot, Sally goes into a back room to change out of her costume, and Eddie sneaks in on her. When she refuses his sexual advances, he becomes violent and brutally beats and rapes Sally. He is stopped by the Hooded Knight, but for Sally it is much too late. Laurie questions her mother about a sleazy comic book that she finds in her mother’s room, but Sally will not stand for Laurie’s accusations. Meanwhile, back at Blake’s funeral, Adrian Veidt also flashes back to his dealings with Blake. When the new band of Watchmen gets together, Veidt proposes that they could save the world with intelligence and the right leadership. The Comedian has been through many trials already and has grown cynical to any attempt to better the human race. Once again, the scene reverts to the funeral, and this time Jon flashes back to his experience with Blake in the Vietnam War. After the war is over, Blake is confronted in a bar by a Vietnamese woman whom he has gotten pregnant. Blake wants to walk away and forget it all, but the woman says that she will not let him forget and slashes his face. Blake shoots her. Jon chastises Blake, but Blake reminds Jon that instead of changing the face and nature of the war, he went along with it to win. He tells Jon that Jon is drifting away from understanding humans. In the final flashback from the funeral, Dan recalls a riot that he and the Comedian broke up during a police strike. The Comedian exerts violence against the crowd of people who claim that they do not want vigilantes trying to stop crime. When Dan questions the Comedian’s motives, the Comedian says that the people need to be protected from themselves. After everyone leaves the funeral, Rorschach visits the gravesite and decides to continue to pursue the Comedian’s killer. He goes to the home of Edgar William Vaughn, who was known as Moloch during their crime-fighting days. Moloch was the Comedian’s biggest enemy and is therefore suspect; however, Vaughn claims that the Comedian came to him several nights before his death seemingly to make a confession. The Comedian had told Moloch that his name was on some kind of list and that he found out about some “joke” that was threatening them all. Rorschach leaves Moloch’s home to reflect on this new information.

Chapter 3 opens with a disagreement between Laurie and Jon. Although they have been intimate for some time, Laurie says that Jon does not know how to relate to her as a person. She leaves him and goes to Dan’s home. Meanwhile the scene is woven together with an interview that Jon’s former girlfriend Janie Slater gives on the same topic. Laurie seeks comfort in Dan; simultaneously, Jon prepares for the television interview. While Laurie and Dan are accosted by thugs in an alley, Jon is accosted by television reporters and interviewers who claim that he has caused cancer in those who have been close to him. When he is accused...

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