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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Complete Motion Comic


Warner Home Video
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Available 09 March 2009

In an alternate America superheroes were once a reality, until the government banned their activities. Only a few were left to work for the military and one of these has just been thrown out of his apartment building. One who refused to retire, refused to compromise, Rorschach believes that someone is killing off the remaining ‘costumes’ and goes in search of the others. What he finds will determine the fate of the world...

Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic is released to tie in with the movie. The animated show covers all twelve books of the original comic. For the few of you that have yet to read this seminal graphic novel it should be explained that the work of Alan Moore (writer) and Dave Gibbons (illustrator) took a hard look at what reality would be like if such beings existed. Comics usually portray their heroes as flawed but substantially good, not so Watchmen. Rorschach, who is the audience’s initial guide to this new world, is a psychopath who kills with no remorse. Other characters struggle with sexual impotents, rape and murder or, like Doctor Manhattan, lose all interest in humanity.

The original graphic novel was a multi layered affair, including a comic within a comic and pages from fictitious books, so how does this translate to an animated comic? Well, a bit like the film it does and it doesn’t. On the plus, as far as I could work out, virtually every art panel has been transposed faithfully, sometimes with a minimum of animation involved, usually sweat dripping down faces or moving the characters slightly to give the impression of movement. Other sections, like Doctor Manhattan on Mars, look more like traditional animation, but then making it into an animated show was not the point. The animated comic sits somewhere between a fully animated sequence and the original static image.

The comic is narrated by a single person, which makes it feel much like an audio book, possibly a deliberate move to differentiate it from more traditional comic book animation. Tom Stechschulte does a fine job, as narrator, but I couldn’t  help feel that, given that there are a number of female speaking parts, having two voice actors would have been better. Some portions of the text have been edited out; comparing it with the original these edits seem to have been done for time rather than any censorship issues.

The animated comic comes on a double DVD set. Disc one holds the first six chapters (2 hrs, 37 min, 09 sec), there is nothing in the way of extras on the disc and audio options are restricted to either the English or English for the hard of hearing track. Disc two holds episodes seven to twelve (2 hrs, 34 min, 39 sec). There is an extra on this disc in the form of a sneak peek at the animated Wonder Woman film (10 min, 26 sec).

Given that the graphic novel has been transposed to DVD I’m not sure why they didn’t include the pages of text found in the original for a more complete presentation. Also as a product it does its job well, the only question is who would want to buy it? Like the original, it deals with some difficult sexual subjects and is defiantly not aimed at children. Fans of the book are already likely to own this in comic book form, so why would they want a cut down version? And for those who want a more visual experience there is the film. This DVD falls somewhere between the two.


Charles Packer

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