Tag Archives: Doc Manhattan

Graphic Mythology: An Impersonal God

Allow me to jump back into the DC universe and a graphic novel which was a critical sensation. Watchmen was highly regarded (perhaps too highly) and garnered all kinds of superlatives when it came out. The artwork for this limited series now seems dated, but it is good enough to stimulate the imagination and move the story (a strong one) forward. It’s a bit dark and violent for my tastes, but it was well-written and different, especially for the time it was published. I could see what at least some of the excitement was about.


For the purposes of my blog, I will focus on one character and leave the rest of his dysfunctional cohorts to struggle with their humanity. Doc Manhattan was once a man named Jon Osterman until a nuclear accident at the research facility where he worked turned him into a god. He is no longer bound by time, space, or mortality. He can control energy and matter, has mastered the quantum universe, and can change his dimensions at will. He is invulnerable. As can be seen, he has many of the characteristics one would attribute to God. His character is another matter.


Doc is detached to the point of indifference. Though he has the power to prevent it, he watches in bland astonishment as another “hero” called The Comedian kills a pregnant Vietnamese woman. In his post-human state, he has sexual relations with first one woman (Jenny Slater) and then another (a fellow superhero named Laurel Juspeczyk, a.k.a. Laurie Jupiter) but feels nothing for either of them. Selfish preoccupation and insensitivity are among his hallmarks, and he is a god the U. S. government mistakenly thought they could control.


This is not the God of the Judeo Christian tradition. His behavior squares more with that of the male members of the Greco Roman pantheon – most notably Zeus (Jupiter). The graphic novel was a good, albeit uncomfortable, read for me, but if you’re shopping for a god or even just a hero with whom to identify, I prescribe someone other than Doc Manhattan.