"All we ever see of stars are their old photographs."
-Alan Moore, Watchmen
Superheroes have been banned from the US, forced to go back to their lives as civilians. But a killer starts to stalk those who have previously lived lives as vigilantes; and Rorschach is determined to find them. As he tries to unravel the mystery behind the killer, the lives of other superheroes are brought to light.
This is a layered narrative that absolutely deserves all the praise that it gets. All of the layers work together in order to give you the full picture of the characters, and of the desperate situations that they're facing. The influence of the narrative is absolutely apparent, given that the book itself was written in the 80s. We owe a lot to Watchmen, especially if you're an avid graphic novel reader.
As an exploration of the superhero genre, much of the story is dark and doesn't include much hope. All of the characters are psychologically complex, and none of them can be labeled as completely good. Adding all the elements together, the narrative is complex and it's clear why this graphic novel is studied so much more than all the others.