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Watchmen is an American comic-book limited series published by DC Comics in 1986 and 1987, and collected in 1987. The series was created by a British collaboration consisting of writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins. Watchmen originated from a story proposal Moore submitted to DC featuring superhero characters that the company had acquired from Charlton Comics. As Moore's proposed story would have left many of the characters unusable for future stories, managing editor Dick Giordano convinced Moore to create original characters instead.
Moore used the story as a means to reflect contemporary anxieties and to deconstruct and parody the superhero concept. Watchmen depicts an alternate history where superheroes emerged in the 1940s and 1960s, helping the United States to win the Vietnam War. In 1985, the country is edging toward nuclear war with the Soviet Union, freelance costumed vigilantes have been outlawed and most former superheroes are in retirement or working for the government. The story focuses on the personal development and moral struggles of the protagonists as an investigation into the murder of a government sponsored superhero pulls them out of retirement.
A commercial success, Watchmen has received critical acclaim both in the comics and mainstream press, and is considered by several critics and reviewers to be one of the most significant works of 20th-century literature. Watchmen was recognized in Time's List of the 100 Best Novels as one of the best English language novels published since 1923, and placed #91 on The Comics Journal's list of the top 100 comics of the 20th century.