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Watchmen is a graphic novel written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons.

Table of contents
1 Plot summary, not containing spoilers
2 False documents in Watchmen

Plot summary, not containing spoilers

A right-wing extremist vigilante, Rorschach, discovers that a murdered man is The Comedian, another costumed adventurer. This triggers an investigation that causes him to track down and interview his compatriots whom he believes are being targeted by an enemy who's out to eliminate the superheroes. In a world that has been drastically changed by the superhuman powers of one of those members, Dr. Manhattan, the team members start to reconsider who they are on the midst of a complex situation that seems to push events even closer to the brink of an impending global disaster.

In the early 1980s DC Comics, who had acquired a number of existing characters from Charlton Comics, commissioned a treatment from Moore for a mini-series about them. The resulting story, recast with new heroes to avoid continuity problems with DC's mainstream comics, was often hailed as a breakthrough in comic book writing and, with Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns sparked an interest in comics amongst a wider adult audience than traditionally associated with them.

Cover art for both the US and UK collected editions of the Watchmen comics, published 1987 by DC Comics/Titan Books

The principal cast and the Charlton Comics characters that inspired them:

False documents in Watchmen

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers!

Watchmen used false documents in a centrally important way, especially because verisimilitude in general was so important as it worked in opposition to the cartoonish origins of the material. So, while the work is not entirely composed of false documents, the documents that are used have a central thematic and technical role in the drama... especially Rorshach's psychiatric history and the Pirate Comic that plays as counterpoint to the larger narrative (and is the product of one of the kidnapped artists). A copy of the fictitious right-wing magazine "The New Frontiersman" is also important to the plotline.

The whole book, in a way, is about levels of authenticity. Is Rorschach the real masked hero because of his intense personal conviction, or is it Night Owl because of the level of energy and money that he dedicated to more and more elaborate toys and masks?

The book is all about props and masks and a general investigation of "realness" and "perfection." It tries to inspect the depth and literality of an Ubermensch in a naturalistic setting. There is a kind of arms race of realness going on in the evolution of super heroes as described by the book, starting with a masked wrestler, then a masked cop, then techno-dilletantes and madmen and vigilantes, finally culminating in Doctor Manhattan -- the hero that is so "real" that he not only makes superheroes obsolete, he makes all of mankind irrelevant.

In 1987, Mayfair Games produced two adventure modules based on Watchmen for its DC Heroes role-playing game. These modules, entitled Who Watches the Watchmen? and Taking out the Trash, included background information about the fictional Watchmen universe, approved by Alan Moore. His approval made these publications valuable to fans as the only outside source of supplemental information about the characters in the story (especially minor characters, such as the Minutemen and Moloch).

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