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Watchmen

That was a very welcome and interesting change of pace. I’m not sure what I was expecting, as I don’t often read graphic novels, but I was surprized by how dark it was. I wasn’t expecting it to be any kind of classic superhero story, but there were definitely a fair number of twists that I didn’t see coming. There were still some clichés of course: the misunderstood hero, the battle against time to save the world, etc. But the creative plot twists and overall story was done well enough that those weren’t particularly frustrating or unforgivable. The heroes possessed a level of complexity that challenged our very conception of what it means to be a hero or “good guy.” They were, in some cases, just as cruel as the villains. Furthermore, this unconventional superhero tale did not shy away from death. Both hero and the civilians died, breaking away from the expected invincibility of the protagonists.

This story was both in our world and completely separate from it. I had a little trouble at first as I tried to figure out if it was supposed to be more similar or different. What were the limits of the Watchman world?  Dr. Manhattan seems to be able to defy pretty much every law of physics, but normalities are also there. Similar but different. Monstrous? Hmm.

I was intrigued by the significance of masks. I found myself thinking of Anonymous, the “hacktivist” group. There was actually an attempt, not long ago, to ban masks in protests in Canada. A significant reason for that was due to the Vancouver riots, but it was also intended to be applied to all forms of protest I believe… My memory is a little vague on the details. But as a result of the Anonymous movement, more and more people have taken up wearing masks as part of their activism, especially the Guy Fawkes masks. The idea of anonymity is significant not only to this book but to our world as well. As well, it also begs the question: is the person behind the mask the same person with or without it? How can being secured in our anonymity alter our behaviour? To being us back to the beginning of this class, I’m reminded of Plato, and the invisibility ring, and the question of justice and good and bad. Masks serve a similar purpose to invisibility.

Great text to end the year with, I really enjoyed it.

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One thought on “Watchmen

  1. I think it’s interesting how actively Dr. Manhattan tries to defy the label of monstrous. People blame him for causing cancer, but he does not lose his temperament over it (if you will, he doesn’t hurt anybody over it, he simply retreats to Mars). I think the only big glimpse we see of monstrosity at the end, and perhaps we see it out of everyone (except Rorscach, but it is apparent he is monstrous from the get go) in reaction to Veidt’s alien explosion thingy in New York. Everyone accepts it, telling themselves it was the right thing to do. Ironically these characters (Veidt, Manhattan) have the most powerful voices in the world…. yet they remain silent.

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