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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


This is one of the best ideas I've come across in a while. To coincide with the release of Zack Snyder's film adaptation, Warner Home Video is releasing Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic. The DVD, which arrives in stores on March 3rd, is a dream-come-true for fans of the legendary Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons superhero graphic novel. As of this writing, Snyder's live-action film is still a week away from release; regardless of how it turns out, this DVD may actually be the definitive screen version of the story.

If you're reading this review, I'm going to assume you already have familiarity with the book. If not, all you need to know is that "Watchmen" is a great deconstruction of the superhero myth. Set in an alternate 1985 - where Richard Nixon is still president and costumed crime fighters have largely been outlawed - the book explores the idea that anyone who would dress up in a silly outfit to fight crime must have a screw loose somewhere. The characters, while technically heroic, come with their share of personality defects, raging from egotism to insecurity to outright psychopathy. At every turn, "Watchmen" goes against the grain of what you'd expect in a superhero comic, right up to the shocking ending.

The concept of The Complete Motion Comic is quite simple: all the original panels and artwork from the graphic novel are given limited motion, voiceovers, and sound. In other words, it's exactly what you'd see on the page, should that page suddenly come to life. Even the text boxes appear. The preservation of the novel's art is what makes this DVD indispensable for the Watchmen fan. Rather than having to start from scratch to design animation - or make sets and costumes to recreate the book - Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic simply retains what everyone loved in the first place, namely the comic's brilliant structure and style.

The project, which began as a series of iTunes downloads, was personally overseen by illustrator Dave Gibbons. Zack Snyder is one of the producers, and John Higgins did the coloring work. All twelve chapters of the book are here, each segment running 25-30 minutes. Nothing has been excised. Actor Tom Stechschulte provides voices for every single speaking character, each one having some characteristic that distinguishes it from all others.

By coincidence, I finished reading "Watchmen" only a day or two before popping The Complete Motion Comic into my DVD player. More than anything, what excited me was that this format really does justice to the book. There is not so much animation that it becomes a cartoon - lips don't move, the motions are simple but effective - yet having some movement and sound makes this a really fun way to re-experience a great, groundbreaking story. Nothing here is gratuitous or distracting; enormous care has been taken to preserve the integrity of the source material.

One of the essential components of being a "fanboy" is that you want the rest of the world to understand why you think something is cool. That's why internet message boards get filled with vitriol whenever Hollywood bungles the big screen version of a popular novel, video game, or comic book character. Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic will be treasured by fanboys, but it's also a perfect introduction to the property for anyone not inclined to read the book first. Watching the DVD, you can see clearly how beautifully "Watchmen" has been drawn and inked, as well as how complex and subversive the story is. It maintains the "cool factor."

This 2-disc set is available on DVD and Blu-Ray. In addition to nearly six hours of content, each copy also comes with Movie Cash, good for $7.50 off a ticket to see the Watchmen movie when it's released on March 6. Both versions have a sneak peek at Warners' upcoming DVD release Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess. The Blu-Ray additionally has a "Watchmen Theatrical Video Journal with Dave Gibbons" and "BD Live" - an exclusive first look at Zack Snyder's film.

Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic is a must-own for any fan of this seminal graphic novel. Of course, nothing could ever replace the book itself, but this DVD is the rare tie-in that actually honors the original property.

Purchase it online here

Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic - Own it on DVD March 3

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