Stuck in a Cycle

Within the Watchmen comics, there is a strong demonstration of mirroring of images from the front to the back of the book.  The panels of each comic mimic the art design and the animation.  As the first panel resembles the last, the second looks like the second to last and so on, this type of mirrored imaging seems to depict a full-circle perspective of life.  In this book, death and terror are continuously appearing as a regurgitated theme establishing the environment of the characters.  Rorschach’s life constantly revolves around this fear, which re-establishes the continuum of the lives within this book.  Following this, loss is another extremely strong theme throughout the book, effecting each character in his or her own way  “Fearful Imaging”, the fifth issue, strongly depicts this and demonstrates both the direct and indirect outcomes of the loss within this society.  This tactic sends a message to the reader that their immediate actions with have an impact later on.  With both the timeline and this artistic view, it emphasizes this concept of a full circle, as well as the impression of loss.

Death establishes a contagious mentality of hopelessness, which is consistent throughout these comics.  In the first issue, “At Midnight, All the Agents…”, the picture on the cover (a zoomed in visual of a smiley face pin with blood on it) resembles that of the first panel of this story.  In the final panel of this scene, the reader is explicitly told that the Comedian, a super hero, is dead.  The smiley face in the beginning of this issue contains the Comedian’s blood, which starts the recurring theme of a hopeless society.  Death is prominent throughout this book, and it undermines the mindset of the characters.

The second comic, “Absent Friends”, expands on the concept of loss.  The cover has a picture of a statue of a woman’s face while it is raining, which makes her appear to be crying.  Like the first issue, the cover is a close-up version of the first panel, which locates the scene in a cemetery commemorating the Comedian.  The final panel, portraying Rorschach walking away from the Comedian’s grave, again ends the issue with a notion of loss.  This also gives a message of a continuously circulating life, primarily focused around death.  The title of this comic re-emphasizes that death is so prominent, because it verbally states that individuals once with these characters are no longer there.  The verbal confirmation of this absence increases the impact of these losses.

In the fourth issue, “Watchmaker”, the cover portrays a tattered picture of Dr. Manhattan and Janey on the ground when he was still a human being.  Again a magnified version of the first panel, it expands the concept of a loss in life.  This picture is the precursor of Dr. Manhattan’s miserable state of being.  He is eventually accused of being a murderer, indirectly giving all that are close to him cancer.  This then leads him to his leaving of Earth and finds solace on Mars.  The story ends with him watching the sky in a “makerless mechanism”, perceiving that no one is responsible for making the world.  This issue supports the concept of loss in the world.  While the earlier comics looked at this thought in terms of death, “Watchmaker” perceives this through means of leaving the place you inhabit.  In a way, Dr. Manhattan has been gone since he turned into the blue hero that he is today, even if others don’t see it in that way.

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons use the mirroring of images to progress the theme of loss and emphasize life’s full-circle.  Both the drawings and the conversation between individuals allow the reader to infer the effects of loss in the characters’ lives.  Death and abandonment connects each individual and intertwines them through various networks.  Watchmen is centralized around these concepts and relies on the heroes to save them from this demise.  Yet, even the heroes are stuck in this cycle.

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