At the end of Watchmen there was a particular panel that caught my attention. It showed the same street corner that was a center of many panels throughout the graphic novel, however it had radically changed since the stories start.
There are some main differences that are important to notice between the old and new street corners. Let’s start with the first real look at the street corner. This corner is where the newspaper stall and the news seller resided and that spot where most of the books minor characters frequent. This street corner is grimy and littered with trash, and has a definite busy quality to it. Meanwhile if we look at the street corner by the end of the book it is clean and empty.
There is a real shift in the tone of the corner between its introduction and final appearance. In the new street corner the newspaper seller’s stand has been replaced by a coin operated newspaper dispenser. Even the electric charging station that the young boy, Bernie, used to lean against has now changed its design. Sleeker and taller the electric charger could now not be leaned on at all. Taking away the ability to lean against it makes the place unwelcoming to loitering. However it was the NY worker in the background is what made me realize the parallels between these panels.
In the first panel a random NY worker is putting up a sign that reads “Fall Out Shelter” on the wall of the building behind the newsstand. At the end of the book though what appears to be the same, or similarly ambiguous, worker is taking down the sign and replacing is with another unknown but assumingly more cheerful sign. In contrast with the beat up truck the worker drove in the first panel, he now drives a new nicer vehicle that matches the cleanliness of the new street corner.
Functionality wise the street corner has changed very little. It is still a place for people to charge their cars and buy a newspaper. However, the human element has essentially been taken out of the street since the bombing. The end of Watchmen leaves the reader with the decision of whether the choice to bomb the city was right or not, I feel that showing the familiar although now almost unfamiliar scene of the street corner is meant to make you think on that decision again. Visually the new street corner is a cleaner and cheerier looking place however it is devoid of people. The old street corner while dark and littered still has a life to it. By getting both views of the street corner there is a better understanding of what happens to this part of the world post bomb.
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