I bought Watchmen years ago as a birthday present for Jeremy, along with V for Vendetta, and then promptly took both books and read them myself. I read V for Vendetta first, absolutely loved it (that dystopian future England thing again) and was positive that nothing could top it—until I read Watchmen.
Watchmen was darker, vaster and more intense than any graphic novel I’d ever read (well, except maybe for Maus). When I first read it in early 2002, I was astounded and unsettled by the parallels between what was happening in the graphic novel and what was happening in the world around me. Reading it again recently, I was distressed to note that not a whole lot has changed.
Though ostensibly about (super)heroes, Watchmen feels grittily realistic. It’s bleak and violent and frustrating, just like the real world. It’s filled with people doing terrible things for apparently good reasons, a theme which is painfully topical. It’s long, grim, engrossing, and an absolute classic. If you only ever read one graphic novel, you should read Watchmen.