After the horrible experience of reading Foe, I got to read Watchman. I had watched the movie prior to reading this book, but it didn’t give me the best picture. Lots of people have said they really liked Watchman, I enjoyed it, much more than Foe and admired it in a sense.
Alan Moore basically takes the stereotypical ideal of heroes and neutralizes it, grounds it into mincemeat, does what the machine did to Dr. Manhattan. The ‘heroes’ in Watchmen are different from the ‘heroes’ that we have studied within the texts and in pop culture. They do not just have one Kryptonite, not just succumb to anger easily, or get beat by a dragon or old age, and certainly not fate. The ‘heroes’ in watchmen, are all flawed, incredibly flawed, and some more than most. They have powers, or certain advantages, but apart from that, they are very flawed, more like real people than characters (i’ll talk about this later). Rorschach may come to one’s mind when I mention this, but I am talking about Nite Owl, who can see in the dark, but at the same time, he can’t really see in the ‘dark’ of the world’s underbelly, who to an extent, abandoned his fellow heroes, and lacks determination. Dr. Manhattan, the overpowered, super powerful man, who is so powerful, he actually isn’t really human is also another example. The Comedian? He’s incredibly flawed, but at the same time it is his total A-hole attitude that lets him see into the darkness of society.
I found it interesting that artsoneb (in whoever’s blog) said that the characters in Watchmen are not ‘characters’, but are people, with incredibly detailed backstories. I sort of agree… and sort of not. The characters in the graphic novel are incredibly detailed and are very realistic, but they are still characters. They are meant to fulfil a specific role within the story of the graphic novel and prove a certain point. This means that some parts of them are fictionalized, despite how realistic they may appear to be. Certainly, Watchmen provides a certain degree of stark/dark realism, but there is still a certain boundary between the art and reality, which makes the characters, characters.
So are the heroes in Watchmen actually monsters? Hard to say. I’m actually not sure. It is very subjective and it actually should be for all of the supposed ‘heroes’ we’ve read. Odysseus may be a hero to his family, but certainly not to the cyclops or the suitors. Beowulf is a hero to the Geats and Danes, but not to Grendel’s mother. It seems, that who is a hero and monster really depends on a person’s point of view. Rorschach for his determination and black and white beliefs, which leads to his brutality, is a sort of monster, but at the same time, I see him as possibly the most naive hero of them all. Despite that there is no moral compass within the abyss, he continues to deliver retribution according to his own form of ‘justice’ (please correct me if I’m interpreting this wrong) and never compromising despite of that.