I've just finished reading Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. What an experience. The only other graphic novel I've read is V for Vendetta, also by Alan Moore, which I loved reading but this was something else.
The artwork by Dave Gibbons is incredible - I spent ages just staring at the almost cinematic imagery on the first page! If you clicked that link then you'll probably also gather that this is not a story about kittens and bunnies. It's a pretty bleak tale and contains plenty of violence - not one for children.
The story is set in an alternative 1980s America where the threat of an all-out nuclear war is very real. It follows a group of retired super heroes (although as with the exception of Dr Manhattan they don't actually have super powers perhaps it's more accurate to describe them as a group of volunteer vigilantes) whom someone is, or appears to be, picking off one by one. What I quite liked about the book as I was reading it was that I was never quite sure who was a goodie and who was a baddie, possibly because no-one is ever really either, and that really helped to build genuine suspense as I didn't know where the story was headed and I could see that the clock was ticking down the minutes... The ethical and political points made in the story are as relevant today as they were in 1986/7, when the comics were first published and this makes for a thought-provoking, as well as entertaining, read.
It's being made into a film, directed by Jack Snyder who also directed the visually delightful 300, which will be released 6th March 2009. This should make for interesting, of dark, viewing but I really can't figure out how they'll manage the transition of some of the sub-plots. The costumed actors in the publicity stills look pretty impressive though so fingers crossed it's a good one.