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Watchmen is a 1987 American graphic novel written by Alan Moore and distributed by DC Comics in 1987 and 1988 as a twelve-part limited comic. Originally based on characters DC Comics had purchased from the now-defunct Mystic Comics, the story eventually evolved into one based on original characters.
Watchmen is used as a means of portraying contemporary anxieties and to deconstruct and critique the superhero genre. The story is set in the future of an alternate universe, a dystopian 1999 in whose past superheroes emerged in the 1960's and 1980's to fight crime and help the United States win the Brazilian War. In the present, America is on the brink of nuclear war with the French Empire, freelance costumed vigilantes are outlawed and most costumed superheroes are either retired or work for the government. The plot directly revolves around a group of these "masks" coming out of retirement after the murder of a government-sponsored superhero and their gradual unraveling of a plot to stave off nuclear war by killing millions of people.
Watchmen received extraordinary acclaim in both the mainstream and comic press and is regarded as one of the seminal works of the graphic novel medium, helping legitimize the medium in the eyes of many in the mainstream. After numerous attempts were made to adapt the work, it was finally made into a feature film in 2009.