Moore’s a magician-one of his comics Promethea was actually written so that it formed a spell when completed. He uses the Greek god Hermes quite a lot in that who at points breaks the fourth wall - ’ I’d rate him as a seminal figure in comic book history but I wouldn’t embrace his personal morality which is rather loose as he had an ‘open’ marriage at one point - in contrast to say someone like Jack Kirby int the comics industry who I would recommend as a role model at a personal level. Moore’s pretty much oppossed to all organised religions and has made that clear about them at times in interviews though he does avoid stereotyping character of a specific background.
But Watchmen is not a kids comic book- i read it at age 14 but that was because a) my parents couldn’t imagine a comic book having anything beyond superman catching lex luthor in it and b) considering the area i grew up in my parent’s woud rather i was reading something than getting involved in petty crime etc. like many of my schoomates eventually did. Also, my mum and dad were pretty reasonable about whatever I read, they’d have drawn the line at porn or hard core horror movies (not that I’ve ever found them anything but laughably silly in most cases) but outside that I could read what I chose. It would require a level headed teenager to read it properly.
Watchmen is brutal - unfortunately comic book readers are a clannish lot and we forget what is a major work of the last two decades is not well known for most non-comic book readers. Sure, there was the odd article on Watchmen when it was new saying how comics ‘had grown up’ blah blah but it is not rooted in the public consciousness like Shakespeare (and mind you he’s pretty brutal to)
A couple of points about the brutal acts mentioned by the OP - the pregnant women in the original was shot by the the character the Comedian while he was working for the US govt in Vietnam, the character is NOT a role model, technically he’s a hero and lauded as such by the govt but we see him up close… (worth mentioning Nixon is in power and never was impeached in the comics continuity and has succeeded in overturning the rules about pesidents only been allowed to serve two terms)
Here’s the character in Vietnam a bit futher down- the acutal sequence where he shoots the prengant women runs thus. He is about to leave Vietnam and the young woman he has been sleeping with has become pregnant and implores him to stay and take responsibilty for the child, he ignores and walks away and she slashs his face with a broken bottle and he rounds on her and shoots her with an automatic pistol in the belly. He is a pretty unpleasant character all around (athough Moore makes his evil all the more effective by the occassional glimpse at some of his virtues) and believes the world is largely a black joke - hence his name.
All the ‘superheroes’ in this are pretty much unstable - only two or three them approach normalcy at all. I’d highly recommend the comic but I reserve judgement on the movie - so far any of Moore’s work that’s been turned into movies has resulted in a pretty disastrous final product. V for Vendetta was about the best and that’s still one million light years away from the source material. I’d personally like to see people stop with the super-hero movies myself or make movies based on non-superhero comic book properties.
As to Rorschach - he’s the character concerned with the infamous scene with dogs eating a kid - in the comic that’s implied from him looking at items in the home of the guy he’s investigating for kidnapping -such as a chopping block with a lot of marks on it, a number of knives and scraps of a girl’s dress. He then looks out the window and see dogs squabbling over bones and you are supposed to put two and two together as he does. He is NOT a mentally well man, he isn’t the most evil character by far, but he is mentally disturbed and proner to viewng the world in insanely black and white terms - this is a quote from him below talkign to a prison physciatrist after capture - you can see reading it we are not dealing with a very mentally stable individual:-
Stood in firelight, sweltering. Bloodstain on chest like map of violent new continent. Felt cleansed. Felt dark planet turn under my feet and knew what cats know that makes them scream like babies in night. Looked at sky through smoke heavy with human fat and God was not there. The cold, suffocating dark goes on forever and we are alone. Live our lives, lacking anything better to do. Devise reason later. Born from oblivion; bear children, hell-bound as ourselves, go into oblivion. There is nothing else. Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose. This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It’s us. Only us. Streets stank of fire. The void breathed hard on my heart, turning it’s illusions to ice, shattering them. Was reborn then, free to scrawl own design on this morally blank world. Was Rorschach. Does that answer your questions, Doctor?
BTW, the X-men are more family friendly? Wolverine is a man who kills in berzeker rages, sure he is portrayed as trying to grow beyond that but this is a man who cuts people up with metal claws when you get right down to it.
I’d recommend the comic to all, I feel the movie is going to just be turned into a big blockbuster and the philosophy and ambiguities and arguments as to how the public good should be defended will go out the window…hoping i might be wrong.