World of the Watchmen
Historical and Social Changes in the World of the Watchmen
This section summarizes the differences between our world and
theirs. I am ignoring certain obvious changes, such as the super-heroes,
major differences in technology, and the different consumer products and
magazines. (Mmeltdowns don't exist in our world, but that's not
really worthy of mention.)
- HEINZ: In 1892 the founder of the Heinz corporation decided on
the slogan "57 varieties;" in our world. In their world, it's "58
varieties" (See issue #1, 10:8).
- VIETNAM: In our world and theirs, US attempts to oust the Viet
Cong led to US troops being sent there. In our world, these
attempts were unsuccessful, and troops were eventually withdrawn. In
their world, Nixon promised in 1968 (to ensure re-election) to send
in Dr. Manhattan, and did so in 1971. He brought about Viet Cong
surrender in just two months. In 1985, Vietnam became the 51st state
(See issue #1, 4:3).
- SPACE: In our world, treaties prohibit nuclear weaponry in
space. This is not true in their world, apparently, because the US
Congress approved the building of nuclear silos on the moon (1:14:5;
"Congress Approves Lunar Silos," a Gazette headline). (These
could possibly be grain silos, but that seems unlikely.) This also
indicates much more space travel than in our world.
- GENETIC ENGINEERING: Besides the obvious (Bubastis) it's
apparently produced four-legged, wingless poultry (See
issue #1, 25:4).
- SOCIAL ATTITUDES: Whether this is signifcant or not, we see
two men embracing in public in issue #1, 25:4.
Also, the accepted term for
homosexual females is "gay women," not "lesbians." This
change came about in the mid-'70s (See issue #9, page 32).
- WORLD WAR II: In their world, the Nazis had costumed saboteurs
in the US (Screaming Skull and Captain Axis). There is no
evidence that the second nuclear bomb was used on Japan in Nagasaki in
their world, but there's no evidence against it either.
- COMIC BOOKS: In our world, the most prominent comics were
super-hero comics in the '40s. They diminished after WWII ended, and
crime and horror comics rose to prominence in the '50s, led by EC
Comics; a public outcry led by Dr. Fredric Wertham led to the founding
of the Comics Code Authority, which put the kibosh on most horror
books. Superheroes came to prominence again in the very late '50s and
early '60s, with DC's revitalization of their old characters (Flash,
Green Lantern, etc.) and the rise of Marvel, beginning with the
Fantastic Four in 1961. Superhero comics continue to dominate the
In their world, Action Comics #1 (with the first appearance of
Superman) helped touch off the masked hero craze. Superhero
comics continued for a while (the Flash existed, possibly as
"Flash-Man") but dwindled in popularity due to the existence of real
"superheroes." The '50s led to pirate titles dominating the
market, led by EC. The anti-comic sentiment came to nothing; the
government came down on the side of comics to "protect the image of
certain comic book-inspired agents in their employ." In 1960, DC
premiered Tales of the Black Freighter by Max Shea and Joe Orlando [who
exists in our world, and has worked with Alan Moore], which
proved to be groundbreaking. Pirate books continue to dominate into
the mid-'80s, until the "alien" comes to New York; horror comics
become more popular after that.
Note that pirate comics have never been popular in our world;
with the exception of Classics Illustrated's adaptation of
Treasure Island, I can't think of a single one offhand. (EC
may have published one as part of their "New Direction.")
- NIXON: In our world, Nixon was Eisenhower's vice president
from 1953-1961, and was defeated in the 1960 presidential election
by John Kennedy. In 1962 he lost in a bid for the governorship
of California. In 1968, he was elected President, and was
re-elected in 1972 with the widest victory margin up to that point. However, a
series of scandals (beginning with the revelation of a break-in to
Democratic campaign headquarters in the Washington, DC
Watergate Hotel on 6/17/72) led to his resignation on 8/9/74.
In their world, Nixon involved Dr. Manhattan in domestic and
foreign affairs, enlisting his aid in winning the Vietnam War and
bringing about economic prosperity. This led to great popularity on
Nixon's part; in 1975 his administration sponsored a repeal of the
22nd amendment that would have limited him to 2 terms in office.
He was re-elected in 1976, 1980, and 1984.
- MILK: Milk is still available in glass bottles in their world;
it's more commonly found in cardboard cartons or plastic jugs in
ours. (See issue #2, 20:7).
- DRUGS: A popular street drug is KT-28, which doesn't exist in
our world (at least as such).
- THE NEW YORK TIMES/GAZETTE: Between 1945 and 1966, the major
New York newspaper, the Times, has changed its name to the
Gazette. (There can be no doubt that it's the same paper, though; the
name is in the same typeface, and the first page header layout is
similar. The appearance of a Times in
issue #1 can probably be
regarded as a fluke.)
- PUBLC TRANSPORTATION: Blimps/dirigibles are not a common form of
transport in our world, but they are in theirs. They've replaced
other forms of mass transportation; nowhere in the series does a
bus appear, and subways are only referred to in the past tense.
Taxis are the only form of public transportation common to both worlds.
Watchmen is a trademark of DC Comics Inc., © 1999.
These annotations © 1995 by Doug Atkinson. They may be freely
copied and distributed, provided the text is not altered.
The annotations are maintained at this location by R.J. White.