Alan Moore's The Watchmen

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Allen Moore’s sordid depiction of twentieth century life presents a complex world, where the distinction between a virtuous hero and a villainous wrongdoer is often blurred. In stark contrast to the traditionally popularized portrayal of superheroes, whose unquestionably altruistic motives ultimately produce unrealistically idealized results; the realistically flawed characters of Watchmen exist in a multi faceted world characterized by moral ambiguity. America’s imperialistic ambitions have long been justified as an expression of American idealism. Much like the portrayal of superheroes in popular culture, America’s intervention in foreign affairs was portrayed as the result of a clearly defined problem, where American intervention was necessary and consensual. The Watchmen exist in an American reality that does not depend on them as the archetypal hero as demonstrated by the fact that their presence is not necessary to the survival of the world. Collectively the characters of Watchmen parallel the tumultuous relationship that as a superpower the United States of America has with the rest of the world.

Edward Blake, aptly named The Comedian viewed twentieth century life through a darkly tinted humorous lens. He viewed life as an absurd and meaningless notion, where all actions were ultimately driven by an innately selfish nature. Through his experiences in war, he becomes a “ruthless, cynical and nihilistic” man who is “capable of deeper insights than the others” in the room (Reynolds, 106). The Comedian's derives his power from a complete an utter disregard for humanity. Though he fights crime and has been conjured by the press into a patriotic symbol of war and victory, he thrives on chaos and destruction. He claims t...

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...ulture. Together the characters of Watchmen reflect an unflattering image of American identity. We sacrifice morals to defend principles rather than saving people. We sacrifice ourselves for commercial gain and for the fame that comes from the worship of strangers. We worship our own achievements, obsess over time and in the end we lose what makes us human as we continue down a path that takes us farther away from each other and deeper into ourselves.

Work Cited

Reynolds, Richard. Superheroes: A Modern Mythology. Jackson, Mississippi: UP of Mississippi, 1992.

Hughes, Jamie A. "Who Watches the Watchmen?: Ideology and 'Real World' Superheroes." Journal of Popular Culture39.4 (2006): 546-557. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. EBSCO. Web. 25 Feb. 2010

Moore, Alan and David Gibbons. Watchmen. New York: DC Comics, 1986 - 1987
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