Who chooses our heroes? Who watches our heroes? Who watches the Watchmen? Over
the course of history, many public figures have been scrutinized for heroic actions that some
have deemed controversial. Charles Darwin dismantled theories of Creationism with his
discoveries in evolutionary biology. President Harry Truman single-handedly ended World War
II by authorizing the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, killing thousands upon
thousands of civilians. Gangster John Dillinger stole from banks all across the U.S. Midwest in
the midst of the Great Depression and was heralded by some as a modern-day Robin Hood. All
of these figures share a common characteristic concerning their heroic lore: the controversy
surrounding the decisions they have made continues to resonate throughout society.
We find the same debate about controversial heroes in our literature as well. Probably the
most well-known example of this in the graphic novel genre exists in Alan Moore’s Watchmen.
While the story follows the perspectives of several vigilantes, the most interesting of the group
may be Walter Kovacs, or Rorschach. A man with a mysterious ink-blot mask and even more
mysterious persona, he represents due justice in its purest form and will go to any length to make
sure that it is carried out. He must ignore the corrupt authority that exists in the world of
Watchmen and the criticism that he receives from the public to do what he knows is right.
Rorschach’s heroism stems from his immunity from public corruption and opinion. He sees
criminals escape justice, whether it is because of a cold case or botched police work, and hunts
them down himself. Rorschach does not disregard the law, but works above i...
... middle of paper ...
... the good
people in our society. Lastly, a hero will do the unpopular task in order to make sure good
prevails. They risk the opinion of the public eye in order to preserve righteousness. Rorschach is
not a superhuman with powers the common man is incapable of. He is an individual who had an
epiphany and saw something wrong with the world. Rorschach did not simply go out and spread
the ideas he thought encapsulated “good”; he, instead, went out and made a change in the world
armed only with his journal. Anyone can be heroic and all it takes is an idea and a will to fight.
Dietrich, B.D. “The human stain: chaos and the rage for order in Watchmen”. Extrapolation 50.1
(2009): 120-144. Print.
The Code of Hammurabi. Trans. L.W. King. Holy Ebooks. Web. October 14, 2009.
Moore, Alan. Watchmen. New York: DC Comics, 1986. Print.
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