Before they were Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias, Silk Spectre and the rest of the "Watchmen," the characters in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' groundbreaking comic book series were a group of lesser-known Charlton Comics characters. Today, they're the stars of blockbuster adaptation of that series hitting theaters this Friday and already selling out across the nation.
As the story goes, Moore intended to write the characters' swan song when DC bought the rights to Charlton heroes like "Peacemaker" and "Captain Atom" in 1983, but ended up creating a new team of characters based on Charlton's roster for the story he had planned -- a story that eventually became "Watchmen."
Previously, we took a trip down memory lane with Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias (originally "Captain Atom" and "Thunderbolt," respectively), and today we look at another dynamic duo from the pages of "Watchmen": Silk Spectre and The Comedian.
FROM “PEACEMAKER” TO “COMEDIAN”: Debuting in 1966, Christopher Smith was a U.N. diplomat who could no longer stand knowing that there were warlords out there and people weren’t doing anything about it. So he got some weapons, put on a shirt with a dove on it, got a fancy helmet, and went out to fight evil directly (as so many diplomats have been known to do). As “Peacemaker”, he took down warlords and corrupt officials while making sure that the violence didn’t spill over into the public arena and threaten innocent civilians. He claimed that he loved peace so much, he was “willing to fight for it.”
Peacemaker was not very popular and made scattered appearances over the years in Charlton Comics. When DC re-introduced him, he now was said to suffer from a mental illness and that the true reason he fought was due to guilt over his father having been a Nazi war criminal. He died in a mission. Since then, others have used the Peacemaker name and similar outfits.
FROM “NIGHTSHADE” TO “SILK SPECTRE”: Nightshade is perhaps the most different from her Watchmen counterpart. First appearing in 1966, Eve Eden was not just the student of the Charlton martial arts hero Tiger, but she was the daughter of a woman from a magical dimension, giving her shadow-based abilities. She worked with the government as “Nightshade” and did several missions with Captain Atom, whom she became involved with. In her final Pre-DC adventure, the two of them joined with others to form the Sentinels of Justice. When DC introduced her, she was left mostly unchanged.
In creating Silk Spectre, Alan Moore didn’t just used Nightshade as inspiration. Her costume resembled the scantily-clad 1940s hero Phantom Lady. And her childhood seems to be a nod to the DC hero Black Canary, who took up the mantle from her mother, the original Black Canary of the 1940s and 50s.
Next up: The Charlton Comics characters who inspired Nite Owl and Rorschach -- and be sure to check out our earlier recap of the origins of "Watchmen" characters Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias, too!
What do you think about the reinvention of these characters in "Watchmen"? Think the story would've been different with the original cast Moore had planned? Let us know!