Written by Alan Moore in 1986, Watchmen accomplishes a study of its own genre within a very specific cultural context. However it also serves as a political and social commentary of its time. If we were to ignore the superhero related bits of the graphic novel entirely, it still works as a piece of alternative history and as a social commentary of U.S.A.
To provide some back story it is important to consider that this Graphic Novel was written in the late 80’s however the novel deals with American culture and politics starting from 1938- 1986 the time at which the book was written. The graphic novel therefore includes notable political, cultural and world events that had transpired such as The Cold War, the threat of a nuclear holocaust and what is known as Vietnam Syndrome. Vietnam syndrome was a major part of the American Psyche at the time of the late sixties and early seventies.
It is known as the American public’s aversion to American overseas military involvement in Vietnam. This is highlighted when one of the characters known as the Comedian states to his comrade Dr. Manhattan that if they had ‘lost’ the war it may have driven the U.S as a country crazy; which in reality it did. Post-war America had lost some political standing as a nation and superpower in the international world.
The author Alan Moore has made sure to include the major events and political figures of his time and make them thematically vital to the narrative. For example he wanted to critique the power politics of Ronal Reagan who was the American President at the time in 1986, but felt that may anger some of his audience and so he instead decided to create an alternate history in which President Nixon was re-elected 3 times to office, thus making him the president of the United States in 1985. This allowed him to discreetly censure Ronald Reagan.
We can also see that the Author made Dr. Manhattan directly linked to the fear of nuclear annihilation at the time which many Americans felt due to the worsening of the Cold War. To conclude Watchmen stood as a milestone of innovative and bold new comic writing of its time, and will continue to be an outstanding piece of literature for time immemorial.