Justice Themes in Alan Moore’s “Watchmen”
The novel, Watchmen, by Alan Moore has been presented as a narrative of postmodern comic and tends to posit a dystopian globe whereby superheroes become part of people’s lives. In the novel, the hero’s devotion towards justice tends to override his devotion to law. The novel is also a clear revelation that superheroes can be considerable people that can lead to patriotism as well as moral loyalty to a state, although not necessarily towards letters of its laws. Alan Moore seems to challenge the traditional perception of superhero stereotypes by the novel’s deep literary narration, reoccurring symbols and the conflicted characters. His graphic novel wholly deconstructs the features of typical superheroes. Moreover, his portrayals of characters fulfill a diverse social role to society that is also different from that of other superheroes. Despite the fact that there is no much difference between traditional superheroes and the superheroes of today or superhero stereotypes, there is a new meaning of the whole idea of superhero along with their functions within today’s society. It has become clear from the novel that most people think that superheroes fight for things that would bring justice to the society, but in the real sense what might be regarded as justice by one individual is not necessarily the same as all that is justice to another individual.
The most outstanding incidence supporting the statement above is that the most audacious action on the novel is that it tends to posit an idea that superheroes may not be sufficient to save the whole world. Looking at an optional world of the whole story, the notable existence of super-powered Manhattan has resulted in a rise of tension between the United States and the USSR. Most importantly, his unexpected sacking leads to the countdown of nuclear power faced by the world. Moreover, the notable efforts by heroes in the novel, such as Rorschach, Silk Spectre and Nite Owl, are entirely relative to all that is eventually realized as the major plot that is illustrated in the novel. That is the successful trial by the previous costumed Ozymandias in order to save the world from the possible nuclear annihilation. It can seem like justice to some people since the world would be saved from the massacre using nuclear power. However, what may seem as justice to one person may not be justice to another person. In that case, the irony is that Ozymandias behaves in a way that looks to be far more common with the comic villain than a normal depiction of a hero. That is, playing a long game, hardly using any inclined confrontation and involving great deals of scene manipulation that has led to many deaths of innocent people. According to Ozymandias, it is justice to make a rational transaction that sacrifices millions of lives in attempts to save billions of them.
From an open opinion, killing millions of individuals in order to save billions of them may not sound as justice to many. It might make people feel that their world is under a huge threat from an earthly menace. However, some might perceive that as a way of enhancing global unity and ending the Cold War. However, the fact remains that it is a utilitarian thought that to a large extent seems inhuman. According to supporters of utilitarian school of thought, the greatest good should be done to the greatest number. In other words, doing injustice to a group of people in order to save the majority of them should be perceived as justice. To them, that is defensible. Looking at Ozymandias, if he sounds correct through his assessments that using nuclear weapon in the absence of intervention, then it should be the right choice to state that billions die and many millions die as well (Moore, Dave, & John 23). Justice is not always regarded the same by every individual. Different people hold different perceptions of justice and what might seem justice to one individual might not be justice to another. Understanding justice under different settings can play a huge role in formulating unity aspects among individuals instead of acting in a way that proves injustice to some and justice to others as depicted by the novel.
Silence has also been presented as a way of attaining justice. However, neither the film nor the graphic novel depict that an audience should agree that silence is a way of attaining justice. According to Doctor Manhattan, silence is the best choice. He continues to indicate that his neutral high authority provides him with the knowledge to understand that Ozymandias’s choice is clear without having to condemn (Moore, Dave, & John 76)
. It seems that there is conflict in terms of attaining justice by the main characters in the novel. In that case, the readers are left to make a decision on the type of superhero to side with in terms of their beliefs of ways of attaining justice in the society. The novel, Watchmen, has been intended to bring out several questions and make the audience think of themselves and the answers they should give instead of accepting those of the superheroes’ moral stances that has been spoon-fed. Ozymandias becomes the protagonist in the novel. He reveals his long-kept secret identity two years prior to the vigilante crime fighters who were later banned. Looking at his character, Alan Moore uses a historical approach to indicate both historical and cultural activities to influence his way of thinking on justice issues. He works in ways that seem inhuman holding in mind that as long as the end results provide the most beneficial results to the largest group of people, then that should be the best way to act. It should be regardless of harm and criticisms from the minority. The methods of morality in the novel by the superhero seem conflicting since every superhero has a different stand from the other. It tends to support the fact that one’s way of justice might not be another’s way of justice in the real world.
In conclusion, it has become clear that Alan Moore holds a different perception about superheroes from other comics. He has brought out a clear illustration of the superhero stereotypes that he has depicted as different from the traditional superheroes. He reveals the different ways used by his main characters in achieving their goals as heroes and leaves the decision-making process upon his audience in order to determine the type of superheroes they ought to follow. He brings out the idea that achieving justice can be a personal decision. In other words, one’s way of attaining justice might not be the same for others. Justice is perceived differently by different individuals in the society. According to Ozymandias, killing millions of people in order to benefit billions of people seems justice since it would bring maximum benefits to the majority rather than letting the minority number live at the expense of the majority. He considers utilitarian way of justice as the best way to go in order to benefit the majority. Alan Moore has played a huge role in bringing out the theme of justice and the way different superheroes strive to achieve it in different ways. Therefore, it is not necessarily clear to say that superheroes stand for justice whereas one’s justice might not be another’s justice.