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Facing the apocalypse in Watchmen
Christian W. Schneider

As Watchmen includes references to the past of comics and to the entire cultural realm, Alan Moore's typical tendency towards 'playing in somebody else's sandbox' shows a structural affinity to the Gothic. In Watchmen's 1980s mindset, the logic of the Cold War's nuclear arms race is re-created within the context of superhero comics; Judgement Day could happen at any moment, as every character, superhero or not, realises. Watchmen's structural rigour distinctly lacks playfulness. Martin Schuwer considers Moore's invariant panel structure downright merciless, presenting the reader with an inflexible system, simultaneously aiding and inhibiting their processing of the narrative. In Watchmen, however, the heroes are not in a position of control; they must subject themselves to the rule of time, mercilessly leading them and the rest of humanity towards the apocalypse. In the end, the comic evinces a prototypically Gothic bleakness, expressed thematically and formally.

in Alan Moore and the Gothic Tradition