In their graphic novel Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons establish their story during the Cold War period, when a group of superheroes tackle the task to save humanity from a potential World War III caused by tensions among governmental powers. Managed by the intelligence of Adrian Veidt, the worst was avoided after the attack of alien forces causes the death of millions of New Yorkers that leads to a temporary world peace. The representations of the Watchmen superheroes of Moore and Gibbons, particularly Rorschach, display the concept of heroism being a part of the real world, among the regular public of our society.
Towards the end of the chapters in Watchmen, the reader is introduced to journal entries, revealing the ordinary
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Walter Kovacs chose to put a mask on his face to avoid the disturbance when looking at himself in the mirror, consequently trying to forget about the cruelty that humanity is responsible for. Finally, when an excerpt from Hollis Mason’s Under the Hood is presented, the reader confronts Mason’s life leading up to him becoming the Nite Owl. He first became a member of the New York police department, a decision inspired by the “basic notions of decency that were passed down directly from [his grandfather]” (Moore and Gibbons I, 30). Hollis also adds: “Nevertheless, some of the things that I saw in the city during my first few years here filled me with a sort of ethical revulsion that I couldn’t shake off. To some degree, I still can’t” (Moore and Gibbons I, 30). It is this statement that makes us believe that Hollis became Nite Owl to maintain law and order in the city. Up to this point, it is apparent that the superheroes of Moore and Gibbons are nothing more than regular individuals caught up in their own ideologies. None of these characters chose to become superheroes to avenge a relative’s death, but instead chose to serve society for personal motives, displaying their non-superhero sides.
With the sometimes-negative representation of Rorschach, Watchmen establishes the true identity of a hero. As hinted during Kovacs’ conversation with Dr. Long, Rorschach’s mask plays a vital role in who he is. Any reader of Watchmen should