Posted by: kcgadiyar | November 8, 2008

Sundays with the Watchmen, Week 4: Watchmen#4 review

“Things have their shape in time, not space alone. Some marble blocks have statues within them, embedded in their future. Without me, things would have been different… Am I to blame, then?.. Which of us is responsible? Who makes the world? Perhaps the world is not made. Perhaps nothing is made. Perhaps it simply is, has been, will always be there…A clock without a craftsman.”– Dr.Manhattan contemplating to himself on Mars, Watchmen#4.

We get a look at the life and times of Dr.Manhattan through his own narrations, Mars gets explored, a castle comes up, the central plot is left hanging and we are treated to a brilliant character spotlight. All this and more in the 4th installment of this series, Watchmen#4: Watchmaker.



This issue takes a break from continuing the murder mystery plot which has been central to the books plot so far and instead continues directly from the final scene of last issue with Dr.Manhattan on Mars. 

The issue is a recap of Dr.Manhattans life from his beginnings as a Watchmaker who is pushed to study Atomic Physics by his father as a result of America nuking Hiroshima to his current state of being a superhero all alone on Mars. 

In this issue we realize that time actually does not go linearly for Dr.Manhattan, he knows what will happen in the future because he is actually experiencing it at the same time that he is experiencing the present as well.

This is better explained using  dialogue from issue#10 “An hour into my future we’re on Mars, talking. … You’re going to try to convince me to save the World. … Why does my perception of time distress you? … Everything is preordained even my responses. … [ Laurie – And you just go through the motions, acting them out? … you’re just a puppet following a script? ] … We’re all puppets, Laurie. I’m just a puppet who can see the strings.” 

This issue is written in a very non-linear fashion. This is mainly because it is Manhattan recounting his memories and like normal people his memories jump from moment to moment. His father tossing down cogs from a watch, thus convincing him to become a physicist, him meeting Janey Slater and having the pic on the cover taken at a carnival, to him getting stuck in the particle cannon, in what is a brilliantly drawn moment, and getting disembodied and coming back as Dr.Manhattan.

The sequence of events is later questioned by Manhattan himself, as he says that had he not been a watchmaker, he would never have volunteered to repair Janey’s watch, which he wouldnt have forgotten in the particle cannon, which wouldn;t have led to him being trapped. This leads to the quote that starts this article.

Manhattan origin


At the end of this issue, Dr.Manhattan comes to terms with the fact that he is destined to be alone on Mars, forgets the picture on the surface of the planet and builds a castle to overlook the happenings.



This issue humanizes Dr.Manhattan, only difference is that he has to deal with actions which have been pre-ordained to happen. The fact that he stopped off before going to mars to pick up the only picture anyone has of him, that being the pic taken at the carnival is a nice touch. But, he disposes it in a heartbeat once he decides to pursue science. This aspect of Dr.Manhattan, as a man in pursuit of knowledge comes through very clearly in this issue.

The watchmaker theme seems to be a favorite after Dr.Manhattan. This has been used for Sylar on “Heroes” as well. This is mainly because, a watchmaker understands the sequence in which parts must be put together in order for the whole to work.

Alan Moore knocks one out of the park with this issue. Dave Gibbons complements him step-for-step and we get, what is as far as i am concerned, one of the 3 best issues of Watchmen (Along with #6 and #11)

Overall 5/5. This is a brilliant issue, one that would serve as a template for series like “Astro City” in which motivations of heroes are explored in detail.


Next week: Rorschach reaches the end of the line and a policeman gets angry over a caller asking for “Raw Shark”

Until Next Time,


Previous Installments:

Week 1:

Week 2:

Week 3:



  1. […] Week 4: […]

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