Must-read graphic novels are futuristic classics that shouldn't be missed. Of course, not every must-see is perfect. That's why we've rated them 1-5 on the patented "crunchy goodness" scale.

Title: Watchmen
Date: 1986-1987

Vitals: Possibly the most famous graphic novel that's not about mice and genocide. Someone is wiping out the last of the superheroes as the cold war starts to sizzle. The story deconstructs superhero cliches even as the characters tear themselves apart.

Famous names: Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons

Crunchy goodness: 5

Spinoffs/Sequels/Copycats: A Watchmen movie has been in development forever, but recently seems to have been picking up momentum, with Zach (The 300) Snyder directing and Billy Crudup playing the all-powerful Dr. Manhattan. It's set to bow in March 2009.


Backstory: Moore was supposed to have a free hand to tell a story about a set of characters published by Charlton Comics, which DC Comics had just bought. They included Blue Beetle, the Question, Captain Atom and Nightshade. At the last moment, the suits changed their minds, and Moore had to create a whole new set of characters.

Design breakthrough: The interlocking narratives, including excerpts from books the characters have written, and a horrific pirate story, form a much more complex piece of storytelling than any superhero comic before or since.

Fighting Evil, Quoting Nietzsche by Tom Shone

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