Saturday, April 7, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter IV - page 6


Panel 2:  The remark “killing time” within the caption box highlights this chapter’s theme in a number of ways.  Two of these are: 
-      It is an allusion to the atomic bombs dropped on Japan that killed time for those within the blast area.
-      The fact that Janey’s watch breaks (time killed) results in the killing of time as a linear reality for Jon Osterman when he becomes Dr. Manhattan, a reality precipitated by Jon’s father negating his son’s desire to become a watch repairman (killing his dream to work with timepieces).

Panels 2-3:  The carnival barker getting Jon and Janey’s picture calls them “young lovers.”  Jon tries to protest but is unable to get the words out.  This is yet another example of other people dictating Jon Osterman’s reality/life.

Also, note the balloon flying away in the background of panel 3, which was lost by the boy in the background of panel 2 (you can see the balloon just below the word balloon, ironically).  This is something Jon is unable to see in the present, but something to which Jon, as Dr. Manhattan, will allude to as we progress through this issue, exhibiting how the breadth of his sensory perception expands after the transformation.

Panel 5:  The “Fat Man” that steps on Janey’s watch and breaks it is symbolic of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, which was nicknamed “Fat Man.”  This is the pivotal experience that results in the creation of Dr. Manhattan.  As an accentuation of that, note the way John Higgins bathes the panel in red, symbolizing the “death” of Jon Osterman.

Panel 6:  “Events mesh together with soft precision . . .” is a commentary on how Jon and Janey’s relation is being consummated in 1959, symbolized by the precise instruments of the watch in this repeated image, which would provide for a smoothly running timepiece when put back together correctly.

Panel 9:  This image of the cracked watchface and the time at which it stopped will be mirrored later in this issue by a watchface used as a cover image of Time magazine for a remembrance of the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.  These watches represent the death of innocence (represented by Jon Osterman in Watchmen and by our world prior to the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan) and the birth of a nuclear age (represented by Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen and the use of atomic bombs on Japan by the United States in the real world).  This broken watch is the final catalyst that forces Jon onto his path of godhood.

It is also ironic that Dr. Manhattan is discussing a variety of points in time over the image of a broken watch.

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