This doomsday clock
is referred to sporadically throughout the graphic narrative of Watchmen, where
it signals the proximity of an all-out nuclear war between the Soviet Union and
the United States. It stands one minute closer to midnight and is increasingly
covered in blood. On the back cover of the first issue, the clock stands at
twelve minutes to midnight, and at the close of the story with the twelfth
issue, midnight is struck. Together, the repetitions of the doomsday clock-face
and the titles of the issues/chapters create a circular structure that serve to
summarize and bookend each chapter of the graphic narrative much like literary
texts employ chapter headings or a blank page to frame and delineate chapters
in a print novel

Clocks and watches are used throughout Watchmen to
implement symbolism. The first time such symbols appear, is in the form of a smiley
face badge, which appears many times during the. Blake was wearing the badge on
his night robe when he was attacked in his apartment. When Blake was beaten the
night of his murder, blood from his nose and mouth stained the badge in its
famous pattern: a single line of blood across the badge’s right eye. One
interpretation is that the stain represents the minute hand of a clock,
pointing at 12 minutes to the hour, particularly in an implied connection to
the Doomsday Clock, which represents how close the world is to
“catastrophic destruction”. It can also symbolize a taint on
superficial appearances that everything is well: in the same way the blood
stains the happy smile, the new world order is stained by the uncertain
foundation of the blood and falsehood it was built on.

A good example of shrewd symbolism can be analyzed in Watchmen by Alan Moore, my favorite graphic novel. The story
is set in the United States, 1985, during the Cold War, in an alternate history
where costumed adventurers are real and the country is edging closer to a
nuclear war with the Soviet Union. It tells the story of a group of superheroes
and their predecessors and the events surrounding the mysterious murder of one
of their own, Eddie Blake, whose superhero name is the Comedian.

The recurrence of visual symbols has been cleverly deployed
in 20th century mass media, such as graphic novels and movies, in order to
express abstract contents, which can’t always be translated into words. Such
references can only be understood depending on context, and culture and
knowledge of the viewer/reader about the subject.


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