Watchmen-The graphic novel

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by amdmiami, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. Yassim

    Yassim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    This post is chock full of spoilers.

    That's quite the assumption. It certainly says that his plan isn't completely safe... it hardly announces that he's lost. If the story had intended to tell you that the plan had failed, it would have.

    Manhattan is the first to argue complicity, because of the value of life. He cares. He's a little abstract about it, but his moral compass says that to preserve life (to honour the sacrifice, if you will) the secret must be kept.

    So you think Rorschach was right? They should have let him go. I don't agree with much of what you say, but I can't tell what you're arguing.

    I said it was arguable. In my mind, he floats away above human ideals because he just isn't human - it's like asking if a hurricane finds redemption.

    I think he got it, but didn't think it was funny.

    Your reasoning here is incredibly circular. Where is the exaltation of Rorschach? His death was suicide, as much as anything. If you believe he died for a principle, then I guess you could call it martyring - he probably would. You seem, to my mind, to dislike the story for all kinds of motives you ascribe to the author/story that I don't ascribe at all. The story doesn't exalt Rorschach. It acknowledges that he exalts himself.

    The story makes it plain they all intend to give Ozy's plan a chance to work, that not playing along makes the deaths in NY purposeless. Since they've already happened, what's left?

    Granted, this didn't hold up on rereading. After what happened to his "staff", letting the heroes off with a promise didn't seem entirely in character. Then again, with Manhattan there, his only choice was to negotiate.

    I agree with the last sentence there.

    Watchmen is certainly the beginning of the end for the idea that dressing up as a "hero" and beating criminals constitutes hero-ism or even altruism of any kind. Ozy's plan is on a level and plane so far from "superheroics", it suddenly makes plain how strange the idea of a "superhero" is. Working for a soup kitchen is altruism. Beating up Lex Luthor is ... something else. I think the pirate story gives more of that - that in battling monsters, one becomes a monster.
     
  2. Thrall

    Thrall Commodore Commodore

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    I'm a fan of both Rorschach and The Comedian, but to me, it seems like Moore just took The Punisher(the most popular deconstructed crimefighter to date) and split him up in two.

    On one hand you have the nihilistic, cruel, ruthless Super-Commando who lives for conflict and violence and at times is more of a force of nature then a man(The Comedian).

    On the other hand you have Rorschach. That gritty, moral absolutist, dark avenger who seeks to destroy the most evil aspects of society as he was created by being a victim of it.

    While I am a fan of both characters, I find the other character to be more real and interesting as you can pretty much read about The Comedian and Rorschach in the pages of a The Punisher.

    What I found most interesting about the work was Moore question "Is superheroics worth it?" No, would be his answer. While they might help people and do some good, in the end someone will just take it too far and get alot of people hurt.

    Frank Miller, on the other hand, in his angry, right-wing response/retelling of The Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, fires back "There's no such thing as too far grrrrrr!"
     
  3. Lapis Exilis

    Lapis Exilis Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Did anyone ever think that the idea of superheroes wasn't strange? Within the fictional world of comics, characters long accepted the idea of costumed heroes without blinking an eye - but that was purely a convention of the genre. I'm not sure Watchmen was the beginning of the end - it always struck me more as a watershed book, taking a lot of ideas that were beginning to peak their heads out of the original genre conventions and realizing them in a single story. In the 70s and early 80s, the trends towards more naturalism in comics stories was well underway, and it was this collision between the fantasy inherent in the idea of superheroes and the effort to make them plausible in a reality somewhat like our own, that opened the way for people like Moore to imagine an alternate history for our world where superheroes radically altered the course of human events - as of course they would if they existed.

    Or did you mean Watchmen was the end of the reader's ability to unquestioningly accept that superheroes are always doing "the right thing" in their stories? If so, I would have to argue that. Watchmen rejuvenated the genre, and while heroes' flaws are more often explored in a kind of soap opera-ish way (that is, largely used to generate melodrama, as opposed to raising any real opposition to, say, an emotionally unstable billionaire waging a personal war on crime), and characters within the fictional worlds may now occasionally question what superheroes are doing, in general Superman is still seen as a paragon of virtue, both within the fictional world, and among readers. Lex Luthor is still contructed as pretty whole-hearted evil. What Watchmen did do was open the door for the rare story that does get a little bit into the morality or consequences of radically subverting a system of justice that, while flawed, has a certain evolutionary weight, that is, it grew from many decisions over a long time and is embedded in people's minds, habits and institutions. But most superhero stories continue on their merry way, building Good and Righteous Heroes, who now have angsty doubts, but still do the Right Thing in the end. More importantly, superhero stories still show Very Evil People Who Must Be Stopped. It is the creation of the villains that justifies and necessitates superheroes within the fictional world. As long as we've still got genius homicidal maniacs with plans of world dominion - nothing has really changed in the basic premise of superheroes.

    The Tales of the Black Freighter struck me as being about the way individual fears can warp reality for a person. The protagonist believes a terrible threat is coming and goes to extreme measures to beat it, only to discover that the threat was an illusion and the extreme measures then were not at all justifed. It points out how dependent our morals are on our environment, and how our environment is filtered through our perspective. It's an allegory for Ozymandias who believes he knows the future's threat and therefore takes extreme measures. I read it as questioning whether the nuclear holocaust would have been worse than Ozymandias' actions - since he was pulling a pre-emptive strike there's no way to know. Recall that his name references Shelley's poem about an inscription "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair", which sits next to a crumbled statue in the middle of a desert. Many things point to Ozymandias having constructed his own version of reality in which he is mighty and righteous, and then taking action based on that, whether it lined up with actual reality or not. He didn't become a monster because he was battling monsters, but because he was living in a self-aggrandizing illusion that allowed him to think he knew what was best for the entire world.
     
  4. Derishton

    Derishton Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just a quick note: I'd still like to make a case for Gruenwald's Squadron Supreme as a pre-Watchmen text which is, perhaps, really the beginning of this trend.
     
  5. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    ^While Squadron Supreme did come out first, it, DKR, and Watchmen were all created and released in such a tight period of time that it's doubtful that any one directly influenced the others. In fact, in a 1985 article previewing SS, Amazing Heroes included a disclaimer that any similarities between it and the upcoming Watchmen (which was the first I'd heard of it) were coincidental because they had been worked on independently and simultaneously.

    The Watchmen characters are all directly based on the 1960s Charlton heroes, whom Moore had originally intended to use, but DC had plans to introduce them into the DCU in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Rorschach represents the Question, while the Comedian represents Peacemaker. And Rorschach's moral absolutism comes directly from the original, Steve Ditko version of the Question. Ditko had become a follower of Ayn Rand's absolutist views, and the Question was but one character of his creation who espoused them.

    And while the Punisher had been around since the '70s, AIR he was only just starting to become a fan favorite capable of carrying his own title around the same period that Watchmen came out.
     
  6. FordSVT

    FordSVT Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That was my point. You could compare practically anything, but sometimes there isn't much point in doing so. In your example, Watchmen is the 2 year old child, W&P is the century old heavyweight champion of the world.

    Or something like that. :lol:
     
  7. Yassim

    Yassim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I guess not...

    What I was thinking when I wrote that (which, in re-reading, doesn't scan at all) is that it paved the way for ALL the alternative takes we've had since then. I was thinking especially of The Authority, who take the idea of superhero political power to one extreme. Or simplistically, Civil War, where "neither side is correct". Or Magneto's drive for acceptance/equality/domination (depending who's writing him) becoming more and more human, and less mustache twirling.

    But I guess I'm kidding myself if I think there aren't comics where bad guys do something wrong, and then a hero beats on them...

    Agreed. The trappings have had more influence than the substance of Watchmen.
     
  8. Lapis Exilis

    Lapis Exilis Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Don't get me wrong, there has been far more material after Watchment that has brought in moral ambiguity - we'd never have gotten The Dark Knight if not for Watchmen - I honestly think the movie owes more the Watchmen than to DKR because Watchmen is about people with honest intentions finding out they are not really powerful enough to know what's right while DKR is mostly just a basic superhero story on steroids, though it does touch on political issues. But the bottom line of superhero comics doesn't seem to have really moved a whole lot. Still, at least now there's room for more interesting fare in the genre than there was before. Comics tend to react far more strongly to material outside the medium than to material in the medium, probably because it reaches a far wider audience. So there's no telling what's going to happen after TDK, and, if they manage to translate Watchmen well to screen, after that movie.
     
  9. Yu Wanker

    Yu Wanker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You know I am pleased you brought that up because if you had not I would have. This is an important issue, when Moore wrote this story he was writing with specific characters in mind, characters who had back stories already and he was going to royally screw a lot of them over. Now from a comic fan perspective I think that would have been great, and a wonderful read, but in hindsight I wonder if the book would have achieved such critical success had he used those characters. I don’t think it would have, I think it would have been ignored by a lot of mainstream outlets as another jobing writer on a comic. It would have also left open the option for DC (who had obtained the Charlton back catalogue in a business deal) to resurrect some of these guys later and that would have devalued Moores work. DC initially agreed and then refused to let Moore play with the Charlton characters when they found out what he wanted to do and I think that has benefited the book no end. (unintentionally on DC’s part) But the links are so very obvious none more so than with NightOwl and Blue Beatle, and that still makes it interesting. DC have plainly failed to use the Charlton characters effectively, but I think Moores work would have suffered had he used them as he initially planned.
     
  10. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    peace Maker was the comedian? Well that makes sense. Also explains why he's an extra in the current Blue Beetle comic. :)
     
  11. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    Since this seems news to some, I'll elaborate on the connections....

    The Comedian = Peacemaker
    Ozymandias = Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt
    Dr. Manhattan = Captain Atom
    Nite Owl = Blue Beetle
    Rorschach = The Question
    Silk Spectre = Nightshade

    Some of the Minutemen were based on the Archie heroes, whom Moore had thought of using before the Charton heroes. The connections that I can detect...

    Hooded Justice = The Black Hood
    Captain Metropolis = The Shield
    Mothman = The Fly

    And the original Nite Owl is based on the original Fox version of the Blue Beetle.
     
  12. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Was Rorschach right? What was left?

    Given a childish prejudice that honesty is the best policy, telling the truth about the atrocity was right. I don't think that the Big Lie policy honored the victims.

    Also, I don't for a moment believe in the plan ever succeeding anyhow. Nor does Moore, I believe. The reference to the Outer Limits episode The Architects of Fear, in which the same plan failed, is suggestive. Plus, real world examples like the Tlaxcalans allying with Cortes or the Cherokee with Andrew Jackson say so as well.

    Nor am I perfectly convinced that Ozymandias' projections were correct in the first place. The protagonist of the pirate comic becomes a monster from the desire to save his family from a nonexistent threat. In the real world, only the US government has used or made it official policy to initiate use of nuclear weapons. In Watchmen's fictional universe, Tricky Dick is riding high at home. Why would he queer the deal?

    On the other hand, people thinking that the Russians were behind the attack would indeed pose a serious risk of general thermonuclear warfare.

    One last thing---I don't see how Silk Spectre and Nite Owl II could have avoided thinking they could suffer Rorschach's fate.
     
  13. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    ^There was no "attack" to think that the Russians were behind. Why would people think that the Russians teleported a giant, genetically-engineered monster into the heart of New York City?

    And Ozymandias didn't lift a finger to stop Rorschach. Doc Manhattan killed him. He wasn't about to kill Laurie.

    Nor were Dan and Laurie "complicit" in Rorschach's murder, as you stated in an earlier post. They wouldn't have had any idea that Doc Manhattan killed Rorscach until after Doc was long gone, when they tried to leave and found what was left of Rorschach splattered all over the hover bikes. At that point, what were they supposed to do to avoid "complicity"? Call the Antarctic Police and report that Doctor Manhattan had killed Rorschach?
     
  14. marillion

    marillion Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The writing is excellent.. The artwork is badly outdated in several instances...
     
  15. USS Mariner

    USS Mariner Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    May I ask what those instances are? There are a few coloring errors I've noticed, but the artwork itself is quality stuff.

    It isn't Alex Ross or Adi Granov caliber, but it isn't too far off from a lot of current stuff. Using CG gradients everywhere does not equal "better" or "modern."
     
  16. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    Half the story is told in the art...the background details which often contain information and clues, the symbolism, the segues....
     
  17. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    How does art get outdated? The style? Style comes and goes.

    I'm re-reading it for the first time in eons and noticing lots of stuff that slipped by me before. For instance, I love Doc Manhattan contemplating Dali's La persistencia de la memoria while talking to Janie bout why he didn't stop Kennedy's assasination...the painting symbolizing the irrelevance of time.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2008
  18. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    The artwork is not "outdated." It is, however, fair to say that the coloring job reflects the era it was written in, and I suspect that Moore and Gibbons, if they were producing it today, would probably take advantage of the greater range of colorings available to do more with it.
     
  19. Turtletrekker

    Turtletrekker Vice Admiral Admiral

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    As I understand it, even the coloring choices were intentional and relevant. For instance, anything you see in purple is related to Veidt and the conspiracy.
     
  20. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I'm sure. I was just arguing that Moore and Gibbons would probably have used the greater range of modern coloring technologies to do more things like that.