This is not to ruin the story to anybody who hasn’t heard about the Watchmen characters. But since it’s a very popular comic book series released in the mid-1980s, it wouldn’t be that heart-shattering to say that The Comedian starts the story dead.
The Comedian, or otherwise known as Edward Blake, begins the story deceases under mysterious circumstances. Only the comedian and Doctor Manhattan are superheroes allowed to roam freely because they have been sanctioned by the government. In the alternate reality of the United States in the eighties, a law has been passed banning all superheroes, thus prompting the shifting of the heroes in the story from vigilantes to either productive members of society or simply members of the community – old, tired and retired. This character was described to be both ruthless and cynical but at the same time, also capable of deep insight into what it means to be a hero with a mask. Being murdered, this forwards the plot, engaging the characters in a quest to discover something more sinister and unexpected than ordinary plots and comic book stories.
Created by Alan Moore, the limited comic book series witnessed Dave Gibbons and John Higgins as artist and colorist respectively. Moore wanted a story that showed adults and human life the way it really was. He wanted to show characters, although super heroes, still possess the familiar characteristics of humanity that is always a mixture of hope and despair, of possibilities and endings. Treachery is introduced but not with the common motivations that are inherently evil. In this story, the treachery was actually induced a desire to uphold the common good, and to ensure balance and justice. The issues of humanity and different stands of morality as showed by the watchmen characters all contribute to the undeniable success of this twelve issue limited series comic book. The story is set in a reality closely related yet vaguely similar to the contemporary world of 1980. With the main difference is the existence of super heroes, it was shown that the presence of the United States of a superhero tremendously affected world events such as wars and political outcomes. In this whole limited series comic novel, only Dr. Manhattan of the primary characters has superhuman powers.
The personality and character of Edward Blake is only made known through flashbacks and conversations between the other characters. Obviously, because he starts the story murdered, and the deceased cannot tell stories about themselves, even if they were superheroes. It has been argued that the idea for this character was based on Peacemaker, a character in the Charlton comics, although Edward Blake shows influence from Marvel Comics’ Nick Fury.
All of the watchmen characters differ in personality and response to the external world that they all combine to advance the plot of the story in an interesting yet realistic way. It is unusual for heroes to retire and decide to live relatively normal human and adult lives. Starting the story with Edward Blake dead may have been his best contribution to the whole impact of the storyline of this magnificent graphical novel.
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