Tag Archives: Terra Obscura

Alan Moore’s Superhero Universe Reboots 5: Watchmen Universe

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchmen

 

The superheroes of this universe are only vaguely based on the originals from Charlton Comics so arguably this is not a reboot at all.  The main superheroes of the Watchmen universe include Captain Metropolis, the Comedian, Doctor Manhattan, Dollar Bill, Hooded Justice, Mothman, Nite Owl I, Nite Owl II, Ozymandias, Rorschach, Silhouette, Silk Spectre I and Silk Spectre II.   This is Moore’s last universe reboot alphabetically but his second chronologically.  This is the series that brought Alan Moore fame and fortune in the US. 

 

The comic book within a comic book takes the form of a pirate comic book named Tales of the Black Freighter.  A teen who happens to be at a newsstand, were the lives of the heroes intersect, is reading the comic book on the curb.  We view the panels of this comic book within a comic book as the series progresses. The plot line of Tales of the Black Freighter comic book is reminiscent of the Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.  The comic book within the comic book also reflects the larger world’s descent into WW III and annihilation.  The Watchmen’s universe is too gritty and real for us to believe that anyone will survive as they generally do in comic books.  Nixon is President since he had those pesky Watergate reporters killed by the Comedian, a super hero!

 

Although this is never stated in so many words, there are enough references to Einstein and his thinking that one can assume Moore has probably read Einstein’s comment that good and evil are manmade constructs. Doctor Manhattan as more force of nature, than human takes this literally and departs from Earth to Mars rather than stop WW III. 

 

One of the more disturbing characters, Rosarch has an epiphany while watching dogs eat the bones of kidnapped girl and becomes a Nietzsche superman, beyond good and evil.  In contrast to Dr. Manhattan, who is a Superman type superman and then some.  Dr. Manhattan could easily take out Superman!  Dr. Manhattan is also four dimensional and shifts in and out of the present into the future and past and actually little gains the insight that past, present and future do not actually exist and therefore free will does not exist.

 

Ozymandias is a Batman type superhero who decides to create a fake alien invader that kills millions in New York City in order to unite the world against a larger enemy. Ozymandia succeeds and thus averts WW III.  The bad guy has succeeded!  This doesn’t happen very much in comic books but is he really a bad guy.  Ozymandias has lied to his fellow heroes, killed millions, and even killed his own servants but he did this to save the world and if fact did save the world.  Do the ends justify the means?

 

Another aspect of the Watchmen that is different from other works by Moore is his extreme use of symbolism.  The watch as symbol is used throughout the book.  The watch does not just represent time and the inexorable flow of events as most readers can easily figure out.  The watch also acts a secondary symbol that I think very few readers figure out.  The watch is symbolic of the most important question in human existence.  Is there a watchmaker?  Or more broadly does “existence precede essence” Is there an underlying karma, purpose, a plan to the universe?

 

Are the watchmen just watchmen as in the quote by Juvenal “Who will watch the watchmen” or are the watchmen also agents of the watch maker?  If the watchmaker is God as Newton stated then are not the Watchmen agents of God?  The Watchmen is an incredibly ambitious work that asks all the big questions yet provides an entertaining story.  The Watchmen to some extent was an inspiration for my novel Half Square (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/half-square-chapter-1-agent-wanted/) in that I wanted to explore the big questions but do so in an entertaining manner.  Unlike my novel which is unpublished and largely unread, the Watchmen were a huge commercial success and have been reprinted in graphic novel form continuously.  The Watchmen is the greatest comic book ever written period!  The Watchmaker is the only comic book to win a Hugo Award ever and rightly so.  I would rank the Watchmen number one of the five reboots analyzed in this series.

 

So there you have it readers:

 

1) Watchmen

2) League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

3) Miracleman

4) Albion

5) Terra Obscura

 

Do you agree?  Comments are more than welcome.

 

My other website at:

Fox Superpower List

WereVerse Universe Baby!

 

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Alan Moore’s Superhero Universe Reboots 4: Terra Obscura universe

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terra_Obscura

 

The main superheroes of the Terra Obscura universe include Adam the Ape, American the Crusader, Captain Future, Doc Strange, Fighting Spirit, Fighting Yank (I), the Ghost, Grim Reap, Lance Lewis, Space Detective, the Liberator, Magnet, Miss Masque, Mystico and Princess Pantha.  All the characters are based on characters that Nedor Comics published in the 1940s.  Moore seems to be taking a break from his more serious works here and just wants to have some fun.  The Terra Obscura gang is comic book camp at its best/worst.  I get it.  I wonder how many younger readers do.  You have outrageous characters like Adam the Ape side by side with the Space Detective.  Moore criticizes such juxtapositions in his twilight piece (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/twilight-of-the-superheroes-by-alan-moore/).  In particular, Moore mentions the absurdity of putting Sgt. Rock side by side with the Legion of Superheroes.  Moore makes the material a little darker in that the Terror has been killed by an evil nearly omnipotent machine and death of major heroes really only becomes acceptable in the eighties with the death of Marvel’s Phoenix and after that becomes almost common place due to market response.  The death of Superman series is the ultimate example of how market forces drive comic books rather than aesthetic logic.  The fact that Superman was not actually dead didn’t stop DC from making millions from a line that was moribund even if the character was not.  All in all characterization is not up to Moore’s usual standards. 

 

Doc “Tom” Strange is a doppelganger of Tom Strong from another Earth billions of miles away.   Doc Strong points out that the adventures of the heroes on Terra Obscura are described in comic books on his Earth.  Tom Strong shows Doc Strange a comic book with a cover of the actual source material.  There is not only a comic book within a comic book but a comic book that points directly to the source material.  Tom Strong is more of a pulp fiction hero and very similar to Doc Savage.  Doc Strange is more similar to Superman.  The two superheroes look alike and the superman version meets the pulp fiction version of itself. 

 

The absurdity of heroes of vastly different power levels interacting in a more or less equal manner is taken to new heights.  Tom Strong once fought and defeated Doc Strange using atomic gloves!  The atomic gloves are basically supped up brass knuckles.  Doc Strange has literally crossed billions of miles of interstellar distance over a period of decades without food, water or sleep and therefore can withstand the extreme rigors of space but can be knocked out by atomic gloves by a character that maybe has the strength of ten men!  I think Moore is poking fun at the convention that any superhero stands some chance in a battle with any other superhero regardless of power levels.  Daredevil fighting the Submariner and later the Hulk comes to mind. 

 

The WizKids superhero game tries to incorporate this crazy comic book logic into their minis game.  I pitted the Hulk against Batman.  Batman was able to knock out the Hulk with a batarang!  Our group consisted of hard core D&D mini enthusiasts were such happenings are impossible and we never played the game again but later I thought about what happened and realized this is the way a comic book universe operates rather than a D&D universe.

 

I give this reboot a rank of five of the five reboots looked at.  This means Terra Obscura is at the bottom of the pack but Moore’s worst comic book generally surpasses 99% of the comic book material out there and I would definitely recommend this series to a fellow comic book reader especially one the revels in the kitsch factor of comic books.

My other website at:

Fox Superpower List

WereVerse Universe Baby!