My favourite book is a nine issue graphic novel published in the eighties called "Watchmen", which is nowadays on sale as a large book. It was written by Alan Moore, who is considered one of the greatest comic-book writers of the history and also wrote "V for Vendetta" and "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns". I like so much this book because I have read superhero stories since I was a child, but this novel doesn't treat the genre so magically and optimistically. It digs very deep into the persona of being a hero in a way which reminds me to "Hamlet", "Madam Bovary" or even "Hannibal".
The funny thing is that the comic was meant to have characters from previous DC works, but the editorial didn't let the rights to the writers and they had to create their own, based on the originals. That was the best thing it could happen because now we can be introduced to new and improved characters and you don't have to read the previous issues of DC or know anything of it to understand their backstories.
The novel puts the fictional superheroes in a realistic world, the decade of the sixties in United States, when the Vietnam War had just ended and people were afraid of a nuclear holocaust. Only two heroes were sponsored by the Government and the rest were banned. These fighters were the Comedian, who has a very personal viewpoint of the world, and Dr. Manhattan, the single character with superhuman abilities in all the issues. Ignoring the prohibition, there is a solitary one called Rorschach continued fighting crime against the law. The other heroes were retired and leave trying to get used to the normal life, but they can't because they are remembering the old times.
The story doesn't develop in a canonical way. It starts with the murdering of the Comedian and Rorschach thinks that someone is killing the vigilantes. So he starts visiting all of them to advice and you are able to meet all the characters, who have different backstories linked between them and the historical events.
The best of the novel is by far the ending. It leaves you with a feeling of how low the humanity has fallen and makes you think if the end really justifies the means. The characters are memorable, the story outstanding, the way that it is told, the designs, the colors, the atmosphere... It was adapted to a movie in 2009 by Zack Snyder, and it's also great, but missed big points of the message and doesn't give it justice.
"Who watches the Watchmen?", the popular statement has a deeper meaning when you realize how many points of view has a single happening and where are the limits of the good and the evil.