Watchmen, a twelve-issue limited series published by DC Comics in 1986 and 1987, was created by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins. The six main characters in Watchmen are the Comedian, Doctor Manhattan, the Nite Owl, Ozymandias, Rorschach, and the Silk Spectre.
These characters were originally based on the Mighty Crusaders before being changed in an uninvited proposal to match superhero concepts DC had obtained from Charlton Comics in the early 1980s. Moore drew inspiration from the Mighty Crusaders for the Minutemen, the team’s forefathers.
Because the publisher wanted to bring Charlton’s superheroes into the main DC Universe, and the screenplay made many of them unsuitable for future stories, series writer Alan Moore chose to create fictional characters.
Moore wanted the main characters to illustrate six ‘radically contradictory ways’ of experiencing the world, and he wanted readers to pick the most ethically understandable one. The protagonists from Watchmen reappeared in the prequel series Before Watchmen, which featured backstories for several minor characters from the original graphic novel as well as new characters.
Several Watchmen characters reappeared later in the short series Doomsday Clock, bringing them back into the DC Universe. Watchmen is a television series set in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2019, and is set in the same universe as the short series.
Dr. Jonathan ‘Jon’ Osterman is the lone character having both powers and vigilantism. He was a physicist who was transformed into a blue, irradiated strong being after being disintegrated within an Intrinsic Field Subtractor in 1959.
The Subtractor started automatically when he returned to the chamber to recover his girlfriend’s watch, keeping him inside. Osterman’s body had been reduced to atoms, and nothing remained of him.
After a series of gruesome partial reconstructions, his disembodied spirit was able to resurrect a physical body in a matter of months. He is pressed into duty by the US government after his reanimation, and he is given the moniker Doctor Manhattan in honor of the Manhattan Project. Nite Owl II (Daniel “Dan” Dreiberg) is an owl-themed superhero, earning him the moniker “an obsessive enthusiast… a comics lover, a fanboy” from Dave Gibbons.
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