Good Things Come In Twos

May 20, 2019 by Essay Writer

In comics, it’s never hard to find a good villain to go with every hero: Superman has Lex, Batman has the Joker, and Space Ghost has Zorak. In fact, it’s difficult to find a classic comic in which there is not a clear protagonist and antagonist. Traditionally, there has always been one hero to combat his or her arch-nemesis. However, in Alan Moore’s Watchmen, there is no clear opponent for the heroes to contest. Instead, we are set up with six central characters who spend most of the novel searching for the villain. While each of the six is almost totally unique, the main heroes of Watchmen are presented in paralleling pairs: Rorschach with Ozymandias, Dr. Manhattan with The Comedian, and Nite Owl II with the second Silk Spectre.The most surprising of these pairs is that of Rorschach and Ozymandias. While it would most certainly appear that the two heroes—or more properly termed anti-heroes—are in every way different, they share one strikingly similar trait. Rorschach is raised in the slums of the city by his mother, a prostitute. He is an ugly, poor, private, and almost worthless man. Not even able to pay his rent, he spends his days roaming New York City as a vagrant mute doomsday prophet holding a placard reading “The End Is Nigh.” After the passing of the Keene Act, Rorschach remains an active superhero in open defiance of the law. Ozymandias, on the other hand is a handsome, rich, public, and powerful man. When he is left the fortune of his parents at age 17, he gives every cent he has to charity, only to earn it all back by his own hand. In anticipation of the Keene Act, Ozymandias retires two years before the law is passed. While Ozymandias is a giving liberal, Rorschach is a near fascist. Superficially, the two characters are in no way similar.However, the two anti-heroes firmly share a common belief: the ends justify the means. As a moral absolutist, Rorschach views every act as absolutely right or wrong, devoid of the context of the act. Accordingly, he feels all evil should be punished swiftly and violently. This absolutism is reflected in his mask—the white and black patterns on the mask are always shifting and morphing, but they remain completely separate at all times; there is never a gray area. A childhood fan of Harry S Truman, Rorschach admires the ability to make tough, morally just decisions for the good of the people. Throughout the novel, we find that in order to acquire the information needed to achieve a moral goal, Rorschach will unflinchingly break the fingers of those whom he knows are in no way involved in the crime. It does not matter what needs to be done to reach his objective—the ends justify the means.Ozymandias has the same belief, though he carries it out on a much different scale. To do what he feels must be done in order to save humanity from itself, he gives several people cancer, murders numerous others, and in the end obliterates half the population of New York City. However, he feels his actions are totally justified for the cause of ending the Cold War and uniting the world under one cause. While Rorschach commits a large number of relatively minor violent deeds throughout his entire life, Ozymandias spends several years building up to the execution of one gigantic act. However, the concept behind both characters’ actions is the same.The parallels between the two are further suggested in “Chapter V: Fearful Symmetry,” which focuses almost totally on Rorschach and Ozymandias. This volume of the novel is perfectly symmetrical in nearly every way. That is to say that the first and last pages (and all corresponding pages in between) have perfectly mirrored paneling, the same characters per page, and the same plot; the entire episode is split perfectly down the center. To allow readers to relate the two characters to each other, Moore portrays the two anti-heroes as being total opposites, although each is attempting to perform acts he believes will change humanity. In this regard, it is clear that Rorschach and Ozymandias are meant to be completely opposite characters in nearly every way except for this single, but overwhelming, trait.Another pair presented to readers is that of Dr. Manhattan and The Comedian. These two heroes are the only ones in the story who choose to keep their identities secret and become registered with the US government after the passing of the Keene Act. Throughout the novel, the effects of one’s life prompts the other’s.The Comedian starts his career as a vigilante at a very young age, where his behavior is less than exemplary. After a meeting of a group of masked heroes, he attempts and fails to sexually assault the Silk Spectre (whom we will refer to as Sally Jupiter for clarity purposes). It is discovered afterwards that the two later have an intimate relationship and that The Comedian is actually the father of Sally Jupiter’s child, who later becomes the second Silk Spectre (whom we will refer to simply as the Silk Spectre).Dr. Manhattan, originally Jon Osterman, chooses early in his adulthood to lead the life of an ordinary watch-maker, until his father pushes him into becoming a nuclear physicist. During his work under this profession, Jon is caught in a nuclear accident in an experimental testing chamber, and is transformed into the only true “superhero” of the novel — for he is the only one to have truly superhuman powers. From there, Osterman is led into being a hero by the US government due to his amazing abilities. Soon after his transformation, Dr. Manhattan meets and begins an intimate relationship with Silk Spectre.After the Keene Act is passed, the government has Manhattan and The Comedian team up to help the US win the war in Vietnam. Here, both heroes begin to feel distanced from the rest of humanity and begin to take on the philosophy of nihilism, where they no longer believe in the morality of any actions. The Comedian displays this with his past sexual assault of Sally Jupiter as well as the murder of the mother of his unborn child in Vietnam. Dr. Manhattan’s views are much more blatant, such as when he decides to exile himself to Mars in a time of potential nuclear annihilation of the planet during the Cold War. In fact, after deciding to let humanity decide its own fate, the Silk Spectre is the only one who can convince him to return to Earth and save the human race. This is because she is the only person who was ever important to Manhattan (after his transformation), just as her mother, Sally Jupiter, was the only person who was ever important to The Comedian. Although The Comedian and Dr. Manhattan appear to be very different characters, they are surprisingly related.The final pairing of heroes in the novel is that of the Nite Owl II (whom we will refer to simply as Nite Owl) and the Silk Spectre, also known as Laurie Juspeczyk. The two are remarkably similar, and each seems to be the opposite gender counterpart to the other.Laurie first begins her crime-fighting career when she is virtually forced into it by her mother. After Sally Jupiter retires, she pushes her daughter into taking her place to become the second Silk Spectre. The case is similar with Nite Owl, Dan Dreiberg. Before him, there had been the original Nite Owl, Hollis Manson. Upon retiring, Manson receives letters from Dreiberg asking for permission to take over the name, to which Manson gladly accepts. Both Laurie and Dan took over for a vigilante before them, keeping the same name. It only seems appropriate that while Sally Jupiter and Hollis Manson once were good friends, Laurie and Dreiberg should share an even stronger acquaintance during their generation.The only notable difference between the two is due to their respective backgrounds. Dreiberg’s banker father leaves him a fortune upon his death, which is used to fund the many high-tech gadgets and weaponry Nite Owl uses to fight crime. Based on his ability to build a submarine and flying ship entirely by himself, it can be assumed that Dreiberg is incredibly intelligent. Laurie, however, employs no such devices, and instead relies solely on her great fighting prowess for her vigilantism.Also, most of Dreiberg’s psychological issues are much more subtle than that of his colleagues, namely Laurie’s strained relationship with her mother. Like Manson before him, Dreiberg is friendly, honest, and affable, much like Laurie. Laurie is a liberal-thinking, modern woman, and she is vocal in her feminist and humanitarian concerns. She shares many of the same characteristics as Dan, and the two connect on a level unlike any of the other characters in the novel—meaning, sexually. However, it would appear that while the Silk Spectre prefers to live her life as her alter ego Laurie, Dreiberg prefers life as the Nite Owl. The scene in which he attempts to make love to Laurie reveals that he is impotent and self-doubting while in the guise of Daniel Dreiberg. However, later on, it is revealed that he is able to function sexually at a sufficient level while he is the Nite Owl.In Watchmen, there is no clear villain for the heroes to go after. However, Moore more than makes up for this by presenting seemingly unrelated characters in very correlated pairs. While at first these heroes may appear to be superficially unique, they are actually tied together in a series of complex ways that require further attention to fully understand. This technique is arguably far more sophisticated than the standard reading of a good-guy versus bad-guy schematic, as it provides a mystery through the length of the story while still allowing for much deeper reading to keep the audience interested.

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