10 Great Comics You Didn't Understand The First Time

10. Watchmen

DC Comics/Dave Gibbons

Most people don't understand Watchmen the first time they read it and think it's a dark and gritty superhero drama about the Cold War. The second time they read it, people might pick up on the strong pro-liberal tone and open vilification of the story's supposed heroes. But it is only with context, and usually a third read-through, that people finally understand just what Alan Moore's magnum opus was all about.

In 1983, DC Comics bought the rights to a number of characters from Charlton Comics, most of which had been created and used as a mouthpiece by Steve Ditko and his staunch, Randian views. Moore, an avowed liberal, wanted to use the characters to tell a scathing story subverting Ditko's ideology and the concept of superheroes as a whole. DC was supportive of the idea, but wanted to use their new intellectual property in their main continuity.

So Moore simply transposed the characters into new forms. The patriotic Captain Atom became the detached and unfeeling Dr. Manhattan. The righteous Question became the deranged and obsessive Rorschach. The optimistic Blue Beetle become the depressed and submissive Nite-Owl. With his semi-original creations in tow, Moore crafted a story that not only upended Ditko's Objectivist philosophy, but framed superheroes as a whole as juvenile power fantasies that led to apathy and toxic beliefs based on cultural hero worship.


A writer, blogger, comedian, and actor in New York City, Mason relishes any opportunity to discuss his favorite topics. He has many strong opinions on all facets of media and pop culture.