I was going to review Sin City, but it seemed too timely. For the record, the movie wasn't good. In fact, it was bad. I'm not going to say it was horrible, but lord, it wasn't good. Having read and loved the comics and other Frank Miller stuff in general, I found that the movie only barely managed to ape the visual style, and only rarely managed to capture the actual feel. That said, I still have hope for the Watchmen movie - which may or may not actually come to pass. It's being directed by the guy who did The Bourne Supremacy, who seems capable, and really has a respect for the comic - but it was supposedly the same for Robert Rodriguez. Anyway.
Watchmen, written by Alan Moore, is a high-water mark for comics when it comes to nuanced and mature storytelling. The basic story revolves at first around the murder of a former masked hero, but the stakes seem to keep rising as each issue reveals new facts. It is not a Detective Comics-type story, either - in fact, there is little in the way of sleuthing and only short bursts of action. The heroes have for the most part disappeared from the public eye, having had their heyday in the 50s and 60s. In fact, laws specifically restrict hero action, and the only ones still active are Dr. Manhattan, victim of a horrible accident which granted him godlike powers, Rorschach, a merciless vigilante whose true identity remains unknown to anyone, and Ozymandias, an egotistical sellout who maintains a superhero corporate empire, and is the professed smartest man in the world.
The story is told from many points of view, some events seen several times, some only implied. Mixed in with the larger story are many sub-stories - domestic discontent, romance, hero histories, psychological profiling, and a fantastic old Amazing Stories-style comic about a sailor whose ship has been wrecked by undead pirates, and who must create a raft of his dead shipmates to get home. The stories are woven in, sometimes intimately with the story, and may mirror or give insight into the larger plot being woven. It's really very sophisticated storytelling, and each issue ends with a full-text document or file perhaps related to the story. The first few, for instance, are excerpts from a retired hero's autobiography. Sometimes the stories come to matter only many issues later - it's really kind of a task to put the whole thing together. In the end, though, it's really fantastic but not for everybody. Some might get bored at the lack of action, or stop reading the end notes closely like I did. It's a hard read, a sort of comic book Moby Dick. I'm glad I stuck with it, though, as it is still a very relevant and well-told story. Click the pictures for high quality - just a sample page so you can see the art and such.