Alan Moore's The Watchmen Essay

1628 words - 7 pages

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 to be teaching the public a lesson about the cruelty and randomness of the world by embodying it. The Comedian describes the world as a sadistic joke that only he can understand. Jaded from seeing humanities uprisings first hand, he knows that they are nothing more than symptoms of an underlying disease. Because of his experience, he is able to see more deeply into the truth of American ideology, but he is unable to do much about it. As he says, “Once you figure out what a joke everything is, being the Comedian's the only thing that makes sense” (Moore and Gibson, Part 2, Pg. 13).

Embittered by the emptiness of the American Dream and the savagery of human nature the Comedian becomes a brutal cynic. Seeing the rot and wickedness of the world clearly, he fashions his persona into a parody of it. When told of the difficulty of discerning whether he is joking or being serious, he replies with rancor, “I am the joke. The Comedian is a pointed critique of this dream. His vision of America is tainted by decades immersed in the festering guts of forgotten wars, he sees that beast that his nation has become, and rather than fight it he transforms into a monster himself. This is clearly demonstrated while Night Owl and The...

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