Study Guide

Watchmen Identity

By Alan Moore

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If our flaws make us human, then the “heroes” of Watchmen are as human as it gets. In some ways, the whole book is a meditation on identity. As for us, we may not be superheroes with fancy costumes, but we do have secret selves.

Let’s remember that identity is also communal. It’s more than just the personality of an individual; it’s how that person is perceived by others, how he or she fits into the larger group.

And while the Minutemen and Crimebusters aren’t families in the usual sense, can’t normal family reunions sometimes be weird and uncomfortable, too? We’re looking at you Uncle Thurston.

Questions About Identity

  1. Why do superheroes have alter egos? Would their stories be more or less interesting/relatable without them?
  2. Children often resemble their parents, both physically and through their personalities. How is Laurie Jupiter (un)like her mother Sally? What about her biological father, Edward Blake?
  3. How does colorist John Higgins use color (duh) to bring characters to life, and to distinguish them from each other?

Chew on This

Every hero in Watchmen, from the first Minuteman to the last Crimebuster, suffers from one or more identity disorders.

Alan Moore’s trick: the way characters treat their names lets us know what’s most important about them.

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