Who Reads the Watchmen?
by Phil Perich for the Legends of DC Blog
While most DC Comics fans are probably familiar with the characters from the Watchmen comics and movie, I figured now would be a good time to revisit this classic story since these character are set to have a major impact on the main DC Comics universe soon.
The original miniseries was published in 1986-1987 and created by the British super team of Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins. Moore’s original story idea was to use characters from the newly acquired Charlton Comics. But since DC had plans for these characters and the story would have left some of them unusable, editor Dick Giordano convincedMoore to create new characters similar to the ones he wanted to use. The story played with the ideas of modern societal and political issues and the superhero concept itself. The story focuses on two different eras of superheroes in the 1940s and 1960s. Thanks to the superheroes America goes on to win the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal never happens. In the present day 1985, America is inching closer and closer to nuclear war with Russia. Superheroes are now either outlaws or government employees. This classic story, considered by many as a cornerstone of the comic book industry, featured a murder mystery and was a story of moral struggles and personal development for many characters.
Edward Blake was one of only two superheroes that worked for the United States Government. The Comedian first appeared as a young man with the original group of heroes and later went on to work with their predecessors. Although considered a “hero”, the Comedian was a cynical, violent man who attempted to rape the original Silk Spectre. His murder is what begins the story and is later seen through the years in flashbacks. He was based on the Charlton character Peacemaker.
The only other Watchmen to serve the government was the only hero in this universe with actual super powers, Doctor Manhattan. Jon Osterman was a scientist who gained control over all matter when he was trapped inan Intrinsic Field Subtractor. Although Moore had originally wanted the Charlton hero Captain Atom, he eventually discovered he could do more with this “quantum super hero”. Moore would use nuclear and quantum physics to explain the origin and abilities of this man turned god. Due to his transformation, Manhattan would grow further and further from humanity and his girlfriend Laurie Juspeczyk, the second Silk Spectre. Moore would also depict Manhattan as not experiencing time in a linear fashion. Watch for this character to have the biggest impact on DC Comics in the near future!
Dan Dreiberg was a retired superhero who had been known as Nite Owl. While the character was based mostly on the Charlton character Blue Beetle, he also took some cues from Batman. Just like Blue Beetle, “Nite Owl” was a legacy character with the original debuting in the 1940s and eventually his sidekick Dan becomes the Nite Owl in the 1960s after the original’s retirement. While Moore provided notes on the character, artist Dave Gibbons provided the name and look of the original Nite Owl that he had created when he was 12 years old.
The daughter of the first Silk Spectre Sally Jupiter, Laurie Juspeczyk would go on to be second Silk Spectre and the only other legacy character. Laurie would be the connective tissue of this universe due to her mother’s role as one of the original heroes, her relationships with Doctor Manhattan and Nite Owl, and discovering her biological father was her mother’s one time attempted rapist, the Comedian. While her character was mostly based on Nightshade, Moore also incorporated elements of Black Canary and Phantom Lady.
Adrian Veidt originally was inspired by Alexander the Great when he created the identity of Ozymandias. He would later retire to run his corporation. This character was based on Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt because Moore like the idea of a character who used one hundred percent of their brain, making Veldt the smartest man in the world. Although a hero, Veldt would look down on the rest of humanity, starting him down a very dark path. Is he the mysterious Mr Oz currently hiding on the edges of the DC Rebirth universe?
A vigilante who wore a white mask that had a constantly shifting black pattern on it, the ink blot that give Walter Kovacs his codename. Rorschach was the only hero who didn’t retire or go to work for the government, not caring about the anti-superhero laws. Rorschach saw the world as only black and white and was never willing to compromise. Based upon the characters the Question and Mr. A since Moore wanted to create a character that was similar to any Steve Ditko creation.
So what affect will dropping these characters into the main DC Universe have? Has Doctor Manhattan altered all of time and space? Share YOUR thought with me!
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You can hear me and my friends discuss all things DC Comics on the Legends of DC (@LegendsOfDCPod), Before the Bat (@BeforetheBatPod) and Channel 52 podcasts (@channel52pod). I also write another blog, the True Believers Blog, on all things Marvel. You can find all of my podcasts and blogs and those of others at www.southgatemediagroup.com and all of my creative endeavors at www.philperich.wordpress.com.