Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Dave Gibbons

At this point we’re sure that almost everyone has heard of Watchmen because of the 2009 movie, but there's no way that you can embark upon a respectable comic-book-buying habit without having read the original series.

When Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons launched this 12-issue series over at DC in 1986, no one in the mainstream had ever attempted a story so bold, complex, and brutal before. It took the very idea of superheroes and forever changed it by introducing these colorful characters to the same moral failings from which we all suffer.

That deconstruction of the genre is clearly evident than Watchmen's opening few pages, when it's discovered that a popular hero named The Comedian was recently thrown out of the window of his high-rise apartment. From there Moore brings us on a journey to the bottom of his death and fill readers in on the bizarre world these characters inhabit.

Along the way, we’re introduced to heroes like the fat, impotent Nite Owl; the sociopathic Rorschach; the god-like Dr. Manhattan; the emotionally damaged Silk Spectre; and the narcissistic Ozymandias. This mixture of has-beens, outlaws, and faux-humanitarians adds to the hopeless, chaotic existence that Moore has created. In Watchmen, the men and women in costume are just as dangerous as the enemies they fight against.

Moore's masterwork is filled with metaphors, symbolism, and literary flourishes that elevate it above a simple superhero story. Furthermore, Watchmen also acts as an engrossing mystery tale for people just looking for an entertaining yarn. In 2005, this holy grail of the medium reached the pinnacle of its praise when Time rated it as one of the 100 greatest English-language novels of the 20th century.