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Group Reads Discussions 2009 > Watchmen -- The characters * potential spoilers *

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message 1: by bsc (new)

bsc (bsc0) | 251 comments I think Moore did an excellent job creating real, complex characters. Like in the real world, the good guys aren't always good. Everyone has flaws. So who was your favorite? Who did you hate?

message 2: by Jill (new)

Jill (wanderingrogue) | 35 comments Rorschach was always my favorite. As strange as it is, I think he was the character with the strictest moral code. It wasn't always something you could identify with, but it was undoubtedly there. He would rather face death than accept something that he thought was wrong.

message 3: by Michael (new)

Michael (bigorangemichael) | 188 comments As I said in another thread, Moore's original proposal was to use the Justice League (aka the big DC characters) in the story. DC insisted he change it and thus we get this set of characters.

So, in many ways, I see Rorschach as similar to Batman in the same way I see Dr Manhatten similar to Superman.

message 4: by bsc (new)

bsc (bsc0) | 251 comments Wouldn't Nite Owl be the Batman in the story? He has the name, the money, and the gadgets.

message 5: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Jelmeland (Geoffrie) | 16 comments Personally, I never tried to draw parallels between these characters and other DC characters. To me doing so diminishes these charactes as original creations. However, if one had to try to draw those lines, Nite Owl would be a close analog of Batman, though without the moral code. Essentially, he would be the outward, physical manifestation of Batman, while Rorschach provides us with his moral code. Combined, the two would represent the major portions of Batman.

As to Manhattan...good luck. On a strictly power foundation Green Lantern is probably the closest analog.

message 6: by Michael (new)

Michael (bigorangemichael) | 188 comments I can see where you're coming from. But I also found elements of Batman in Rorschach. A lot it was the grappling gun used in the first two parts, climbing up a building, the detective aspect. And I found some of the conversation between Dr Manhatten and R to be along the lines of the "conflict" between Batman and Superman in Dark Knight and other DC comics since.

message 7: by Richard (new)

Richard (MrRedwood) | 164 comments I didn't feel at all that the characters were well developed. For example, the Nite Owl seemed weak and uncertain in the face of Rorschach's amorality. I never got a good sense for why he was in this gig in the first place -- there was no freaky messiah complex like Batman's, despite the superficial similarities. And then he is seduced into working with Rorschach apparently without a qualm.

message 8: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Jelmeland (Geoffrie) | 16 comments I can see your perspective, but with regards to Nite Owl, I felt that this was actually a commentary on his personality flaws. He wasn't in it for noble reasons. He was in it because he was convinced to do so, and the insight into his history leads me to think that he is, and always has been, somewhat malleable, especially when it comes to his friends.

If you want messianic complex issues just look at Ozymandus.

message 9: by Richard (last edited Feb 03, 2009 02:25PM) (new)

Richard (MrRedwood) | 164 comments I believe that characters can have complex rationales, but the graphic novel format isn't deep enough for me to get the sense that they ring true.

Moore doesn't use very many "thought balloons" or narrator commentary balloons, so all we know about his characters are what they say out loud (one reason why Rorschach, the most complex character, spends so much time mumbling to himself). Without voiceover-style data, it is much harder to paint detailed portraits of a character's thought processes, hidden motivations or intentions. This is a natural limitation of the medium, so I'm not complaining so much as saying that (a) mostly, the medium doesn't work well with my expectations, and (b) this particular book doesn't mesh well with those limits anyway.

Ozymandus was, imho, the most superficial character -- the most "fake". Heroes naturally require a suspension of disbelief, whether it be Dr. Manhattan's transformation into a demigod or the ability of an out-of-practice forty-something ex-hero to take out a few armed street thugs without getting hurt. But, oddly enough, I have much more trouble with Ozymandus' super-genius abilities than with Big Blue's.

Also, Ozymandus' messianic complex is much less interesting than Batman's, for example. The latter is a deeply flawed and tortured fellow who is driven to his mission by pain and anger. Ozy, in contrast, is just a perfect person and being godlike is just his natural career path. No real turmoil or subtlety. Even more boringly perfect than Superman (at least Superman has the despair of knowing he's truly alone, an alien whose planet is gone).

Actually, the simplistically amoral Comedian might be even more trivial than Ozymandus, but it's a race to the bottom.

message 10: by Richard (new)

Richard (MrRedwood) | 164 comments Jeffrey wrote on the Night Owl: "... He wasn't in it for noble reasons. He was in it because he was convinced to do so..."

Hmmm -- I don't recall his origin story too well. I thought he just hero-worshiped the original Nite Owl (who had the cop story, right?) and came from a wealthy family. (Seems possible that I was getting bored by then and skimmed it, especially if it was dealt with in one of the overly wordy graphic-less textual portions. Do you have a page number?)

message 11: by Angie (new)

Angie | 342 comments What I found interesting was that none of the characters had super human powers except Dr. Manhattan. And to be honest I hadn't know that DC characters were the original characters for the book. So when I read it I wasn't really thinking about who that is supposed to be or who that it. It will be interesting to re-read it and think of that characters that way this time.

message 12: by Meghan (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:36AM) (new)

Meghan | 93 comments DC published Watchmen, so the parallels to DC characters are natural. But it's not all DC characters--there are Marvel ones too:

The Comedian - based on Peacemaker, with bits of Nick Fury (Marvel)

Dr. Manhattan - Captain Atom

Nite Owl - is actually based on Blue Beetle, not Batman, although there are similarities between those two.

Rorshach - The Question was the template for him.

message 13: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 93 comments And I don't think the Comedian is simplistically amoral. I think that's the point. Everyone thinks this guy is the go-to guy when there's a war to be won, but poo-poos his methods and shakes their heads at what to do with him during peace time. I know more than a few military men who have similar issues--how do you balance what's needed in warfare and what's socially acceptable every time else?


I think that's why I thought Rorshach ended up being such a disappointment. You were led to believe here was this guy who was so "on the ball" about not trusting anyone and then he ends up being the looney Y2K "the world is ending" guy. How much of his actions were just coincidence of his distrust and paranoia versus brains and cunning?

message 14: by Richard (last edited Feb 12, 2009 02:12PM) (new)

Richard (MrRedwood) | 164 comments Angie wrote: "What I found interesting was that none of the characters had super human powers except Dr. Manhattan."

I really think Ozymandus' abilities would have to be categorized as superhuman. While being a perfect gymnast might be something a human could train towards, his mental abilities weren't human -- especially his ability to sit in front of dozens of news feeds and make deductions. The ability to catch a bullet is also extra-human. (Mythbusters did an episode where they concluded even an arrow travels too fast for a human to see where it is heading and get his hands in place to catch it, which he wouldn't be able to do anyway).

message 15: by JuliAnna (last edited Feb 12, 2009 03:00PM) (new)

JuliAnna | 53 comments Jeffrey wrote: "Personally, I never tried to draw parallels between these characters and other DC characters. To me doing so diminishes these charactes as original creations. However..."

I'm quite the opposite. I think Moore is constantly referring to and commenting on other comics (beyond just DC as others have mentioned), and I kept wishing that I knew more about comics so that I could make the connections.

Meaghan, when you list characters as templates is this based on your own knowledge of the comics, something Moore said, or another source? I'm asking because I would be very interested in reading more about this.

message 16: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 93 comments Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, and The Question are fairly common knowledge to those familiar with DC comics. And after reading the reference to Nick Fury (to the uninitiated, think of Samuel L. Jackson's bit part in the movie, Iron Man), I could see certain parallels.

If you google Moore's Watchmen characters, you should be able to pull up some more articles on them.

Here's an article of an interview with Alan Moore from 2000 regarding his characters:

message 17: by JuliAnna (new)

JuliAnna | 53 comments Thanks, Meghan. The interview is a lot of fun. I especially liked the second part on microcosms.

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