Study Guide

Watchmen Transformation

By Alan Moore

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With apologies to director Michael Bay, there are no super-transforming-robot-cars in the pages of Watchmen. No Optimist-Grimes or MegaTurds. Clearly, we haven’t seen a certain trilogy that shall not be named.

With Alan Moore, characters transform in ways that are internal rather than external, psychological rather than physical. Of course there are key exceptions, most notably Dr. Jon Osterman -> Dr. Manhattan. Still, think of the story world as a huge popcorn maker and the people in it as lil’ kernels (that’s also our MC name, in case you were wondering). The story world exerts heat and pressure, and kernel-people start to pop, transforming in surprising ways.

Questions About Transformation

  1. In his lifelong quest to become Alexander the Even Greater, Adrian Veidt is obsessed with transformation. Does he somehow miss the point?
  2. Why is Rorschach punished with death for his unwillingness/inability to change?
  3. Think about makeover shows, American Idol or America’s Next Top Model or some other show like these. We love to see the lump of coal turn into a diamond, the ugly duckling become a swan. But is it always so glamorous? What about Sally Jupiter’s career?
  4. Originally, the twelve chapters in Watchmen were released as individual comic books over a two-year period. Now, they appear together in one fat volume. How does that change the reading experience?

Chew on This

By going meta and including a comic inside his comic (Tales from the Black Freighter), Alan Moore has transformed Watchmen into an entirely new art form.

You can’t put lipstick on a pig. Watchmen includes a bunch of social commentary, but it’s still just men and women running around in masks and tights.

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