thus acts as a way of circumventing this. Often, though, the comics industry improperly uses it to mean “expensive comic book.” Chapter One primarily focuses on the superhero genre. Because Watchmen relies heavily on readers’ notions of the superhero, a close reading of the text requires an appreciation of the superhero rules set out by Richard Reynolds. Throughout time, comics creators seemingly fashioned guidelines for what a superhero can and cannot be. Moore often parodies these laws in his text. The denotation and connotation of what “comics” means is transformed by the advent of each temporal age: Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Dark or Modern. In Watchmen , Moore’s allusions to each of these ages are significant to the plot and mood of the complete work. For example, the Golden Age is represented by the original superhero team, the wholesome Minutemen, who enjoyed steady popularity. Moore complicates this era by depicting “real world issues” that never appear in Golden Age comics such as rape, homosexuality, and murder. The first chapter also studies why the comics medium had difficulty confirming its validity as an art form throughout its history. While American culture
5 viewed comics as inherently second rate, Moore uses Watchmen to legitimize the form and to dispel the public’s perception of its simplicity. The next chapter highlights the theories and methods Alan Moore employs in his narratives. His comics always provide the reader with an intertextual springboard like a quotation, a specific work, a distinctive genre, or an allusion to another writer’s character. These references challenge and recontextualize original meaning. For example, although he creates his own universe in Watchmen , he alludes to such comics figures as Batman and the Blue Beetle, from whom Nite Owl is directly descended. In addition to being a figure of popular culture, Moore is unusually versed in the literary. In A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen , for example, he appropriates characters from Victorian literature. He then inserts them into his comic, often altering their histories to suit his needs. Literally every page of The League contains multiple allusions to various narratives. Annotations to these comics have been gathered into three books by scholar Jess Nevins. In the introduction to Heroes and Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen , Moore evidences the madness of The League . “You begin to see, I hope, the endless, bottomless intricacy of this literary Sargasso that we’ve beached ourselves intentionally upon,” he begins. At that very moment, for example, I’m distracted by the current chapter of the New Traveller’s Almanac, this being the installment dealing with Asia and the Australias… I think I can tie in that vague offhand reference made in the Africa chapter to Orlando having known Prester John at some point in the past, maybe with a journey running from Alcina’s Island off Japan to Central Asia and the inland seabound island of Pentexiore… This stuff drives you mad. I’m serious. (12)
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