Monday, 6 August 2012

Watchmen And The Dark Knight

Neither of these DC Comics graphic novels influenced the other but, because both reflected the current state of comics in relation to the real world, they developed some parallels.

(i) The Dark Knight Returns is set in a near future where there is a danger of nuclear war. Watchmen is set in an alternative present with nuclear war imminent.

(ii) Each has a US President who is known to us: Reagan in Knight; Nixon in Watchmen. (Near the end of Watchmen, a headline raises the spectre of "RR" as President but a character ridicules the idea of a cowboy actor in the White House. They refer, of course, to Robert Redford.)

(iii) In both, independently operating costumed crime fighters are banned although a masked vigilante defies the ban and a powerful superhero works for the US government.

(iv) In both, the ban is expressed by a diagonal red line across the image of a crime fighter. (In the DC cross-over series, Legends, a temporary ban was expressed in the same way. Super-powered mutants were persecuted in the Marvel Universe.)

(v) In both, a powerful superhero leaves Earth.

(vi) Because both involve a character falling from a skyscraper, they both raise the question of whether such a person would lose consciousness before reaching the ground.

(vii) Watchmen involves an attack on New York; Knight involves an attempt to destroy the Twin Towers of Gotham City: Two Face's clue is that his next target will be twice as big as you can possibly imagine...

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