The great genius of Alan Moore’s Watchmen graphic novel series is how in 12 issues it gives us an alternate history in which the world is protected by superheroes who are not particularly super nor heroic. Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias, Rorschach and the rest are flawed and complicated, make questionable moral decisions, and are ultimately mostly human.
But they believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.
The reboot on HBO — which Moore wants nothing to do with but his writing partner Dave Gibbons is a consultant for — continues that world and the morally ambiguous characters and plot lines in a fascinating pilot episode that, if the trend continues, should be a fun and thought-provoking watch.
And it comes at a good time, as modern America churns like the Watchmen graffiti up at the top of the page. On the podcast, I discuss at least two other areas where morality gets a bit hazy for people who — like the Rorschach of the original series and the white supremacist group that has adopted his mask in the new series — see the world only in ever-shifting blobs of black and white.
It makes for the perfect background for today’s show discussion of Attorney General Barr’s shifting focus toward the former head of CIA John Brennan in his investigation of the origins of the Russia collusion probe, and a chat about the upcoming documentary “No Safe Spaces” about the campus-led assault on free speech.
The Watchmen reboot is sandwiched between these two topics, possibly as a link between things that have no apparent common ground except the chaos that surrounds them.
Which, if you’re familiar with Moore’s work (and which you’ll notice immediately about the new show), is pretty much what Watchmen was about: Chaos. And how we live it and try to make sense of it when perhaps we’d be better off simply embracing it.