Dr. Manhattan’s Defense Trial

Brett Steffen

Dr. Manhattan’s Defensive Trial

The graphic novel series The Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, contains a controversial issue involving the killing of Rorschach by the hand of Dr. Manhattan. The controversy is whether the death of Rorschach was necessary and Dr. Manhattan acted in the correct way, or if Dr. Manhattan acted incorrectly and should not have killed Rorschach. I believe Dr. Manhattan was justified in the killing of Rorschach because Dr. Manhattan acted in defense of the entire planet Earth. Rorschach would have sent the public into frenzy, the image of the super heroes would have been destroyed, and Dr. Manhattan’s moral obligation to protect the people of Earth led to the justification of the killing.
By killing Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan was able to prevent the public entering a frenzy of chaos and disarray, in fact defending the human race from itself. The resulting chaos brought on by Rorschach would have caused the world to enter a whole new kind of life style. More deaths and losses would be experienced by every nation of the world, and Dr. Manhattan was able to foresee this terrible outcome so he was able to make the decision to sacrifice one life for the lives of millions. The amount of confusion and ignorance based off of Rorschach’s intelligence would have played a major part in the wars that could have possibly occurred. By killing Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan acted on different reasons than the Comedian did when killing the reporters who exposed President Nixon. The killing of Rorschach was intended for the betterment of the world, while the killing of the two reporters was bad in that “Richard Nixon used this success and, unmarred by Watergate (in a flashback, the Comedian alludes to having assassinated Woodward and Bernstein), encouraged a repeal of the 22nd Amendment, removing presidential term limits, allowing him to serve an unprecedented fifth term in office during the events of Watchmen.”1
Another reason why the killing of Rorschach is justifiable is the duty of Dr. Manhattan and his moral obligation to protect the people of Earth. By protecting the people he has become fond of them and begins to care about them and focus on the miracle of each and every human being “And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive, meeting, siring this precise son; that exact daughter…until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you that emerged.”2
The killing of Rorschach, by Dr. Manhattan, I believe was justified by having the world’s population best interests in mind which override the moral beliefs that murder is always one or another, black and white. By letting the information Rorschach knew leak into the public mind, it would have caused a great change in the world such as warfare and the super heroes would no longer be seen as protectors, losing the trust of the people they are supposed to be serving. By killing one person to save potentially a billion people, Dr. Manhattan had to make a call much like the one President Truman had to make in 1945 and refers to the bombs dropped on Japan. Truman’s speech justified the dropping of the bombs to put an end to the war as well as to save lives, “We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans. We will continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan’s power to make war. Only a Japanese surrender will stop us.”3

1 .
2 Moore, Alan. Dave Gibbons. “The Watchmen.” DC Comics, New York, New York. Issue 9 page 26.
3 Truman, Harry. “HARRY S. TRUMAN’S ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE DROPPING OF AN ATOMIC BOMB ON HIROSHIMA.” March 17, 2006, 12:31pm .

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

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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.

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Cunning Writing and Rorschach Drawings

The graphic novel Watchmen was originally published as twelve separate issues. Each issue represented a different chapter in the story. The fifth issue, “Fearful Symmetry,” is particularly intriguing because of the way the author of the Watchmen series was able to put in symmetry between the first and last pages of the issue. The coloring of each image is similar and each depicts the same situation just at a different time. This means that time is moving forward in the comic but can loop back to specific place and mean a different thing.

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The 6th Sense of Comics

Matthew Young

February 3, 12

First Year Seminar/Delwiche

 

The 6th Sense of Comics

            The first time I read issue five of the Watchmen comic, I really didn’t notice any particular type of pattern because I was much more focused on the plot. But upon reading it a few more times to try and grasp what’s really going on, it’s hard to miss the pattern displayed in this issue of Watchmen, which is literally presented in plain sight in its title. The first six pages of issue five and the last six pages of issue five have strikingly similar features. The first thing I noticed was the constant appearance of the reflecting puddle on the sidewalk that glowed with red emotion. Then I finally noticed the strange color pattern that resembled a tic-tac-toe board where every other panel had a specific color scheme to it. I think Moore and Gibbons portrayed it like this to show that there is a balance to life and even though there’s a lot of bad things discussed in the plot, there is also hope, and vice versa. For instance, Rorschach secretly investigating the strange activity surrounding the masked heroes and gets setup and framed by the person orchestrating these events. It connects to the idea of karma and irony because Rorschach is trying to do good work but he somehow ends up getting busted by the police. The color scheme could also point to the state of the city, which started and ended with the strong scheme of red and orange. This points to sign of chaos and unrest occurring in the city, particularly at the end when Rorschach is apprehended.

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Discovering Watchmen

A New Way to See Comics, the Secret Stories Within the Story
In the reading of Watchmen, if you pay close attention you can find many significant relationships which may slip by if you do not. Next it will be shown that different kind of relationships that exist throughout the book in the first 5 chapters (except for chapter 2)
As the title for chapter five states Fearful Symetry, symmetry is exactly what the entire chapter is based on. As the reader can see there is a relationship between every panel in order from the first one to the last one, the second one, to the second to last one, etc. The events happening at the front part and its counterpart at the back are pretty much the same. The characters appear in the same order (except for the rebels that want to kill Rorschach), and they are either doing the same activity in both parts, maybe with slight variations, or continuing the activity that they were doing in the front part. For example in page 5, panel 7 Rorschach is asking Moloch for names, information about who is behind the assassination of The Comedian and the disappearance of Dr. Manhattan. In its counterpart, page 24 panel 3, Rorschach is again asking Moloch for names, only this time the information he is looking for is who got him into this trap. Another clear example is when Laurie and Dan appear briefly in this chapter. In page 10 there is a conversation about Dan inviting Laurie to spend the night at his place since she does not have a place to stay. In its counterpart in page 19 the continuation of this activity takes place, which is them arriving to Dan’s place. The reader can see here that the events might not be exactly identical, but the concept is basically the same. This discovery leads the reader to wonder how much time, dedication and effort took from the authors to be able to do this.
Other sorts of relationship can be found in different chapters, for example in chapter one, the first and last panel reveal much more than one may think. The first panel reveals the place on the ground where The Comedian fell, the reader can come to this conclusion because he is able to see a smiley face covered in blood, which he then finds out belonged to the comedian. The last panel shows the reader a larger picture of the block where the building from which The Comedian was thrown out of is located. Again the reader can come to this conclusion by analyzing the images of the first page in this chapter. Another interesting link in this book are the titles of the chapters and the final words at the end of each chapter, something else that one can easily miss if not reading carefully. In this chapter the relation is quite easy, since the words at the end are simply the continuation of the title.
In chapter three, multiple things suggest that people should take care of the environment and the future. For example, the relationship that exists again between the first panel, which is basically the same image as the cover, and the last one, suggest the idea that society must be conscious of their actions. In the first panel a close up of an image of the Radioactive sign is shown. In the last panel, the reader can see Dr. Manhattan sitting by himself in a remote place with nothing around him, this suggesting that if people engage in a nuclear war that is the future that awaits us. Other important elements of this chapter are the title, The Judge of All the Earth, and the final words which question if the Judge of All Earth Should do what is Right. These two small texts make the reader conscious that what every single person does is important and everything has an impact.
Finally in chapter four many events suggest that war and destruction should be avoided, unfortunately, many things lead towards it. What reveals this to the reader more than anything are the title, Watchmaker, and the last words in the chapter, which are a quote by Albert Einstein “The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking… The solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known I should have become a watchmaker.” This tells the reader that Einstein regrets his invention, because it is now being used for a different purpose. He gave humanity the tools to destroy their own species and he does not trust their judgment. This is also supported by the relation that exists between the first and the last panels. In the first one, the reader can see Dr. Manhattan holding the picture that is shown in the cover, which looks old and damaged, it is a picture of a man and a woman, which the reader then finds out that it actually is Dr. Manhattan and his previous lover. And in the last panel the reader can see Dr. Manhattan standing in a sort of balcony watching meteors fall, giving a hint that humans give in to their emotions, which is another reason to believe that it is not safe to trust our species with the future.
In conclusion, I have discovered that there is a much deeper relationship throughout the events of this story. After analyzing thoroughly we can see that everything written in the book has a purpose, it is not just a linear set of events, but the authors really managed to make something unique, which we might not notice if we do not pay close attention. There is also link between all this relationships and the narrative of the book, since the narrative is what ties everything together and gives sense to the whole story, so are these relations, they help us tie and understand the deeper meaning of this book. Therefore, this may lead to a change in the sequential art and comic book medium, authors may even write two or more different stories within one, or have sort of encrypted messages, which only a few people will be able to grasp. I also cannot help but wonder, what if I have missed this sort of things in many other books that I have read, what other secrets have slipped right in front of my eye?

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