Deconstructing The Hero In Watchmen

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Bradford Wright described Watchmen as "Moore's obituary for the concept of heroes in general and superheroes in particular."[17] Putting the story in a contemporary sociological context, Wright wrote that the characters of Watchmen were Moore's "admonition to those who trusted in 'heroes' and leaders to guard the world's fate." He added that to place faith in such icons was to give up personal responsibility to "the Reagans, Thatchers, and other 'Watchmen' of the world who supposed to 'rescue' us and perhaps lay waste to the planet in the process".[37] Moore specifically stated in 1986 that he was writing Watchmen to be "not anti-Americanism, [but] anti-Reaganism," specifically believing that "at the moment a certain part of Reagan's America…show more content…
Citing Watchmen as the point where the comic book medium "came of age", Iain Thomson wrote in his essay "Deconstructing the Hero" that the story accomplished this by "developing its heroes precisely in order to deconstruct the very idea of the hero and so encouraging us to reflect upon its significance from the many different angles of the shards left lying on the ground".[38] Thomson stated that the heroes in Watchmen almost all share a nihilistic outlook, and that Moore presents this outlook "as the simple, unvarnished truth" to "deconstruct the would-be hero's ultimate motivation, namely, to provide a secular salvation and so attain a mortal immortality".[39] He wrote that the story "develops its heroes precisely in order to ask us if we would not in fact be better off without heroes".[40] Thomson added that the story's deconstruction of the hero concept "suggests that perhaps the time for heroes has passed", which he feels distinguishes "this postmodern work" from the deconstructions of the hero in the existentialism movement.[41] Richard Reynolds states that without any supervillains in the story, the superheroes of Watchmen are forced to confront "more intangible social and moral concerns", adding that this removes the superhero concept from the normal narrative expectations of the genre.[42] Reynolds concludes that the series' ironic self awareness of the genre "all mark out Watchmen either as the last key superhero text, or the first in a new maturity of the…show more content…
of [a] new kind of comic book ... a first phase of development, the transition of the superhero from fantasy to literature."[44] He elaborates by noting that "Alan Moore's realism ... performs a kenosis towards comic book history ... [which] does not ennoble and empower his characters ... Rather, it sends a wave of disruption back through superhero history ... devalue[ing] one of the basic superhero conventions by placing his masked crime fighters in a realistic world".[45] First and foremost, "Moore's exploration of the [often sexual] motives for costumed crimefighting sheds a disturbing light on past superhero stories, and forces the reader to reevaluate—to revision—every superhero in terms of Moore's kenosis—his emptying out of the tradition."[46] Klock relates the title to the quote by Juvenal to highlight the problem of controlling those who hold power and quoted repeatedly within the work itself.[47] The deconstructive nature of Watchmen is, Klock notes, played out on the page also as, "[l]ike Alan Moore's kenosis, [Veidt] must destroy, then reconstruct, in order to build 'a unity which would survive
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