Watchmen, a Retrospective Edwin castro

The choice between Society and Truth

We begin the story with a small event. A murder. It seems like a simple case of theft, but then his identity as the Comedian is revealed through Rorschach's narration. Slowly the picture of the masked vigilantes and their world unfolds. It was at this point that I began to consider the themes presented to me, and found that a simple story about superheroes was going to be much more complex than that.

In this story, there are almost no fantastic powers. Only Doctor Manhattan has strange powers. This highlights something that people often overlook in superhero stories--it's not the heroes and their powers that are truly the focus, but who they are and what they do with what they're given.

In this panel, Nite Owl poses a question... Why would Adrian want to destroy the world?

The answer:

Peace

When Veidt's plan is realized, the heroes have to make a choice, they have to wither accept the actions he has taken, for the sake of peace, or like Rorschach they must inform the world of the truth regardless of circumstance.

This simple question is something paralleled through many of the narrative arcs of the story, such as that of the pirate. In the end, Dr. Manhattan reaches the logical conclusion that to preserve order, the Watchmen must sacrifice one of their own. The choice made by the authors for Dr. Manhattan to leave before answering Ozymandias' question lets the reader ponder the question of whether what they did was right.

In terms of ending conflict that would raze the world, I agree that his measures for peace were effective, albeit extremely brutal. The correctness of that action is something I believe the reader should decide for themselves. The framing of Rorschach as a main narrator of the story helps both outcomes seem viable.

The format of the comic book is allows the authors to weave this tale fluidly through time, space, and tone. I personally enjoy the medium of sequential art, so reading this story was inherently interesting to me. The story left me with many things to think about beyond the striking moral quandary of society versus truth. Here I'll attempt to parse out the answers I've reached to some of my favorite themes.

I was led to question identity when Rorschach's origin was presented. Could one truly be separate from their alter ego? Since heroism is a performative act, without the ability to partition the conscious, then I would argue no. The alter ego is only separate outwardly. To the hero (or villain), they are both, and reconciling those two faces is something that the characters of Watchmen struggle with their whole lives.

In contrast to this struggle, is another... What line must one cross in order to become superhuman? That too seems to be a question with somewhat of a fluid answer. Dr. Manhattan literally ascends to Godhood, and thus loses a major facet of his humanity-the ability to understand emotion beyond a rational level. In the other heroes, the line blurs. Someone like Ozymandias pushes the boundaries of humanity with incredible strength, speed, and intellect. However, he faces the same struggles as the rest of the heroes. After the departure of Dr. Manhattan, there are no words to convey the thoughts running through the mind of Ozymandias. In that moment he is just as human as anyone.

Watchmen was a fantastic read, that explored many themes to a depth I could not have expected going in to the story. The answers I found after reading through this story were fascinating and insightful... They reflect on the things people face each day, from the upper echelons of government, to the most average citizen of the world.

Credits:

Created with images by Debs (ò‿ó)♪ - "Watchmen II" • ThaiVoodooWizarddb - "Rorschach" • Debs (ò‿ó)♪ - "《 ronch ronch ronch 》" • Debs (ò‿ó)♪ - "《 ronch ronch ronch 》" • skeeze - "atomic bomb nuclear weapon fat man" • lisistent - "comics books superheroes" • Newtown grafitti - "Mask"

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