Shall Not the Judge of All the Earth Do Right?: Theodicies in Watchmen
Abstract

Abstract:

While the apocalyptic elements of the graphic novel Watchmen have previously been explored, the theodical elements of that text remain to be studied. This article does so by focusing on the figure of Dr. Manhattan, the almost all-powerful super “hero” who is the equivalent of God in the Watchmen universe. When the world is threatened by a nuclear holocaust, it is Dr. Manhattan who can defuse the threat. For much of the comic, appeals to him to intercede come up against his inhuman ethic and aesthetic, attitudes that are presented as an outgrowth of his capacity to experience the universe at a subatomic level. This theodicy challenges and is challenged by other perspectives in the book, such as anthropocentric perspectives voiced by the Silk Spectre and Rorschach, namely that life ought to be “fair,” or that, in the moral vacuum left by the absent God, humans must impose their own meaning and morality. Rorschach also offers the alternative theodicy that evil arises from human acts, and the demigod Ozymandias suggests that all human suffering is part of a secret, but just, “higher plan.”