Inspiration props for this go to LissBirds for her comment that mentioned The Question.
In 1983, DC Comics acquired heroes from Charlton Comics (Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, Nightshade, Peacemaker, Peter Cannon, and, of course, The Question). Just so you know, I’ve long been of the opinion that ANY AMOUNT that DC may have paid was a bargain.
Two years later Alan Moore pithced an idea for an end story for these Charlton heroes (including killing at least one of them).
Huh? Why would DC pay good money for these characters (or at least the rights to these characters) just to kill them off?! Jeez! What was Alan Moore on?
I thank the comic book gods that Editor Dick Giordiano had the sense to halt such obvious madness.
As everyone knows Moore went on to create Watchmen (keeping the story and replacing the charlton heroes with derivative, pastiche characters).
But what if DC didn’t stop Mad Moore?
Just look at the character key below and let your mind wander:
Captain Atom = Dr Manhattan
Blue Beetle = Nite Owl
Peacemaker = The Comedian
Thunderbolt (Peter Cannon) = Ozymandias (Adrian Veidt)
The Question = Rorschach
Before Captain Atom, most (if not all) of DC's male heroes (other than Green Lantern) were completely free to do what they wished whenver they wished. Cap is both hero and government super-operative. So, he's almost never has that luxury.
What would the JLI have been without Blue Beetle?
What would have happened if Peacemaker was killed off in DC continuity?
The answers get worse once you compare the characters (in a Charlton vs Watchmen fashion). The Charlton characters are superior hero for hero. For example, Rorschach is easily the most popular of the Watchmen, but The Question is leagues more complex than Rorschach. In typical Moore fashion, he overcooks the Rorschach character by taking the slightly paranoid (in a suspicious way) Question and morphing him into a Paranoid Schizophrenic. Rorschach is just the Punisher in a coat and fedora with a sock pulled over his head. No wait, it could be Judge Dredd in a coat and fedora with a sock pulled over his head, couldn’t it? Didn’t Moore work for the 2000 AD imprint in merry old England? Even at Vic Sage's most 'things are black-and-white', he was never as one-note.
But that’s the problem with the Watchmen characters. They all suffer from the Alan Moore’s premise delusion: What if Superheroes really existed? Okay, if they really existed, they would be either depressed or depraved or cynical or disillusioned. Just plain dark. All of them.
This is simply NOT LOGICAL, because it doesn't allow for REALISTIC individual differences in personality, cognitive resources, and coping skills across INDIVIDUALS. [It also doesn't help that Moore views characters he didn't create as mere props.]
But Moore isn't alone in this ERROR. Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis also suffer from variations of this view and it could have been avoided if they'd been hugged more often during their formative years.
That's why I’m seriously considering leaving any future fortune I may amass to start a “Give a hug to every British child” foundation.