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Discuss whether and how far the use of the superhero-comic form in Watchmen is an aid or a hindrance to its themes, and the moral and political debates it contributes to. Pertinent comparisons may be drawn with other, similar texts, in various media. (You - Essay Example

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Discuss whether and how far the use of the superhero-comic form in Watchmen is an aid or a hindrance to its themes, and the moral and political debates it contributes to. Pertinent comparisons may be drawn with other, similar texts, in various media. 
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Discuss whether and how far the use of the superhero-comic form in Watchmen is an aid or a hindrance to its themes, and the moral and political debates it contributes to. Pertinent comparisons may be drawn with other, similar texts, in various media. (You
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Extract of sample "Discuss whether and how far the use of the superhero-comic form in Watchmen is an aid or a hindrance to its themes, and the moral and political debates it contributes to. Pertinent comparisons may be drawn with other, similar texts, in various media. (You"

Discuss whether and how far the use of the superhero-comic form in Watchmen is an aid or a hindrance to its themes, and the moral and political debates it contributes to. Pertinent comparisons may be drawn with other, similar texts, in various media. 
Comics or graphic novels have gained considerable amount of respect after becoming a kind of media that gives readers or audiences a whole new experience of encountering themes in literature. The comics and graphic novel genre with special mention of the superhero storylines has become an integral aspect of literature that is able to intertwine several portions of reality including popular (or unpopular) culture and politics along with the fantasy, spiritual and philosophical realm that moulds the society and its people across geographical distances(Romagnoli and Pagnucci, 2013, p.2). However, regardless of the strength of this literary genre in the past century, there has been a significant amount of changes with respect to how readers understand the significance of the genre.
This is where most of these audiences treating the genre as pure fiction instead of reading all of the presented issues in between the lines. This can be attributed to various issues ranging from the lack of awareness of various social issues or simply through the constant bombardment of these concerns that turn the public or most people in society to become apathetic with the needs of others (Romagnoli and Pagnucci, 2013). Despite attributes informing or making readers realise about certain truths about society, the use of a superhero storyline in comics create a large wall that masks real-life problems and realities by draping the plot inside an alternate universe that mostly relies on heroes that save people from their own self-destruction and not putting the blame on the negative attributes that most people in society already have.
One of the most well-known examples and considered to be one of the best graphic novels published in the 20th century is Alan Moore’s Watchmen, illustrated by Dave Gibbons and published by DC Comics as individual and limited issues during the mid-1980’s, later republished into one complete book. Its storyline includes superheroes and even costumed villains that are melded into contemporary 1980’s urban societies, which not only tackle the past wars but also an impending nuclear war due to the developments in harnessing nuclear weapons technology. The various elements involved in the overall construction of the comics were able to contribute in giving life and a realistic feel to the story, but it also makes a connection with readers who were able to relate to at least one of the major characters shown. These include diegesis within the storyline through the stylistic use of speech as a way of building or introducing characters without putting out blatant characterisations, which is considered to be a befitting technique that appeals for the more mature audiences.
There are also descriptions of the breakdown of the invincibility of superheroes into grieving, suffering, and hopeless individuals, alluding to the changing relevance of superheroes along with the priorities or idealisms of society. In as much as Watchmen having a storyline with masked heroes and beings with superpowers or machineries make it seem like a distant reality, with regards to the social problems tackled in all 12 issues it can be considered as a very realistic, maybe even a timeless depiction of how a society that grows to become apathetic and self-centred will eventually cause its own demise, whether or not superheroes or super villains existed or not. Despite such attributes, because of the inclusion of superheroes in the storyline that the real life social issues tackled in Watchmen hinder some audiences into rethinking that some of the realistic aspects of the graphic novel’s story such as moral decay, political instability and possible destruction of the world through human pursuits to also be unrealistic, dismissing these as merely repeating occurrences that normally prevail in history and have been shaped by technological and scientific advancements.
Disregarding the artistic aspects and focusing on the text, the use of soliloquy and retrospective thinking gave a unique edge on how Watchmen were presented to the audience. Through diegesis or the presentation of the story through various vantage points, the graphic novel becomes marketed as something sophisticated and mature, which is one factor that separates it from earlier superhero comics that use simplified dialogues or straightforward script, which reflect the days when comics were mostly read by children (Romagnoli and Pagnucci, 2013).For example, one of the masked heroes that epitomises the use of monologues in narrating events through his perspective was a former crime-buster-turned-vigilante named Rorschach. Rorschach or Walter Kovacs was often shown to utilise soliloquy in nearly all of his appearances, particularly whenever he implies writing most of his experiences in a journal as a means to immortalise the events as he experiences them. One example is in chapter I when Rorschach was speaking about the tumultuous times that will come upon by excessive reckless liberalism:
“This city is afraid of me… I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout ‘save us!’… and I’ll look down, and whisper ‘no’” (Moore, 1987).
In another example of the use of dramatic monologue, chapter IV displays the character Dr Manhattan. This character is taken by Jon Osterman a former scientist who is shown recounting the times when he was still living with a woman named Janey Slater and how he became an emotionless and highly-logical being after becoming a superhuman being:
“She buys me a beer. The first time a woman has ever done this for me. As she passes me the cold, perspiring glass, our fingers touch… It’s 1963. We were making love after an argument, our tenderness in direct proportion to its violence… It’s 1966, and she’s packing; tearful, careless with anger… It’s September, 1961. John Kennedy is shaking my hand, asking what it’s like to be a superhero. I tell him he should know and he nods, laughing… Two years later, his head snaps and then back.” (Moore, 1987).
Using contextual clues to the speeches of the characters, it is easy to deduce that Rorschach grew up to be a psychologically-troubled individual that tried to attain justice despite all means, even at the cost of other people’s lives, but has on one point given up on attaining this possibility. On the other hand Dr Manhattan’s recounting of events show implicitly on how his relationship with Janey Slater ended because he has already become detached with worldly things such as expressing emotions or acting on impulses and by only appreciating human ties only from a very far-away perspective. In addition, he also has a strong belief on the limitations of the capabilities of superheroes in changing the world order such as allowing the assassination of John F. Kennedy despite having a strong public presence, which goes to show that the superheroes’ importance will continue to diminish as the crises that affect mankind continue to rise, such as in the case of major catastrophic events where superhuman abilities can only decrease minimal risks and casualties.
The sentences used in the soliloquys are structured in a way that mirrors how ordinary people would think and rethink situations in their heads, which is not usually through direct and eloquent speeches but rather through rugged and discontinuous sentences similar to the use of literary devices such as pauses or repetition of words, in which the use of stylised sentences or phrases in the texts add emphasis and add drama and sophistication to the dialogue and can only be fully understood by people who can relate to or imagine the gravity of such events.
In relation to the use of literary devices in the dialogue, Watchmen also entertains a much more realistic idea on how superheroes would eventually come to terms with the world after seeing so many events and saving countless lives in their line of work. This was accomplished by adding negative human attributes such as rage, low self-esteem, indifference, lust and other vices to makes the characters in Watchmen more human in dealing with or contributing to the sufferings, moral decay, injustices, inequalities and other issues in the setting’s society. It is valuable to note that these are social problems that already exist in the real world, prevailing not just in the universe of Watchmen but also in other comic titles despite the presence of superheroes or not (Romagnoli and Pagnucci, 2013).For example, disregarding the entertainer Edward Blake’s superhero persona as The Comedian, he still shares similar experiences with real-life ordinary citizens that also encountered problems such as substance abuse, criminal acts such as rape, and even getting murdered in his own home.
In another example, by removing his super-genius status and uncanny abilities to perform genetic experiments on humans Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias can be compared with an ordinary business tycoon that may or may not share unscrupulousness with controlling the stock dividends of the company through large ventures and other business strategies. If readers or audiences can look past the superhero façade and instead focus more on the individualities that make the characters seem human, the issues explored in the graphic novel becomes real, possible and more familiar, even when discounting the aesthetics used in the comic (Romagnoli and Pagnucci, 2013, p.83).
It is expected that because the Watchmen universe includes masked heroes and beings with superhuman strengths and intelligence, readers who do not explore the ideas that such world problems also exist or are unaware that such things are already happening at present will not grasp the realities of situations within the story and thus will be unable to appreciate the strong semblances of the world in the Watchmen and the present scenarios in the world today. In addition, the universal idea that superheroes must live up to the expectations of the people through the upholding of justice and moral codes will proliferate even when these notions have already evolved differently from before is explored within the comic’s storyline by incorporating the problems in trying to instil justice through morality despite these manners shown to be ineffective in the long run (Romagnoli and Pagnucci, 2013).
Passive readers may also not appreciate the subtle use of radical ideas and cause them to lose focus on the realities depicted in the novel while focusing more on the fantasy aspects, in effect creating a barrier that defines what reality is (i.e. the universe where the reader lives) and what reality is not (i.e. any universe depicted in fiction) despite the strong semblances with one another. Thus it is very relevant that readers must see the deeper meanings of the contexts in graphic novels, and in the case of Watchmen, disregarding the presence of superheroes there must be a realisation that injustices, sufferings, the destruction of morals in society and other social problems are very real and can trigger humankind’s demise even without the intervention of superheroes or villains.
To summarise, the graphic novel or comic genre has grown from a medium that mostly caters to children into one that speaks to various people from all walks of life. By using themes and literary devices that makes presentation much more appealing to mature audiences, these give the genre a much more sophisticated look, as typified by Alan Moore’s graphic novel Watchmen. In creating a universe that resonates with modern society’s problems despite the presence of superheroes, the heroes in Watchmen are also depicted as beings that are not immune to the issues dealt with by common people. As shown through literary elements, these characters become portrayed as beings capable of getting hurt, becoming corrupted or detached and even mortal, allowing readers to think that despite the efforts of superheroes in maintaining peace and order there are still numerous problems that cannot be fixed by total reliance on superheroes alone, alluding to the point that humans will cause their own ruin in the end.
This idea of humans causing their own ruins was written nearly 30 years ago and depicted in the graphic novel during the highest point of the cold wars, but the fact remains the same: that even if there were no superheroes man is still capable of his own ruin and destruction. As such it must be noted that only by breaking the common notion that superheroes are always upright, invincible or even immortal will social issues in comics be truly appreciated, and by removing the superhero aspects of the graphic novel and focusing more on the humanity in the lives of these fictitious characters will aid to connect the readers and their own reality.
Bibliography
Moore, A. and Gibbons, D., 1987. Watchmen. New York: DC Comics.
Romagnoli, A. and Pagnucci, G., 2013. Enter the Superheroes: American Values, Culture, and the Canon of Superhero Literature. Lanham, MD.: Scarecrow Press. Read More
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