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Watchmen | Study Guide

Alan Moore

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Watchmen | Excerpts from the New Frontiersman : October 31, 1985 | Summary

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Summary

The front-page story of the New Frontiersman, "Honor is Like the Hawk: Sometimes It Must Go Hooded," is editor Hector Godfrey's rebuttal to Nova Express's attack on masked crime fighters. Godfrey argues vigilantes are a necessary force in the fight against communism and therefore should not be demonized. He implores readers to ask themselves, "just who stands to benefit most from Nova Express' ridiculing of American legends." The article is accompanied by a political cartoon featuring a generic superhero in a boxing ring surrounded by Nova Express editor Doug Roth, the American people, various social ills, and a weeping Statue of Liberty.

The next article in the New Frontiersman is about the disappearance of Max Shea. The search for the missing writer has been called off, but Godfrey thinks Shea's abrupt disappearance is related to the disappearances of four other artists, several scientists, and the head of a dead psychic.

Analysis

In Alan Moore's version of a dystopian United States, Nova Express is a left-wing, liberal publication while New Frontiersman represents the conservative right wing. New Frontiersman editor Godfrey believes in protecting the United States from communism at all costs, even if it means bringing back vigilantes. That sounds reasonable until he compares masked vigilantism to the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist group about whom he has only nice things to say. Though Godfrey makes some good points, he's also blatantly racist. That makes it very hard for the reader to sympathize with him. Moore creates characters like this on purpose. Like actual humans, his characters all have light sides and dark sides. As in real life, there are no perfect heroes or pure villains. Readers are forced to examine their own values and morals as they try to understand those of the book's characters, which makes for a far more complex (but interesting) read.

Some of Godfrey's ideas come out of left field, but he's not entirely off base when it comes to suspecting conspiracies. His insights about the disappearances of Max Shea and the missing artists are entirely on point, as is his conclusion that Doug Roth at Nova Express has an ulterior motive for lambasting Dr. Manhattan and his ilk. The problem is that the New Frontiersman isn't known as the most reliable source of news—it reads more as a tabloid than serious journalism, and only those who already agree with the paper's viewpoints (like Rorschach) are reading the latest issue. They aren't the people who need to be convinced something weird is going on. Unfortunately, no one else is listening.

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