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Plot Summary

Watchmen, Issue 4

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Watchmen No. 4

Watchmaker

Release Date: December 1986

This chapter covers key events and turning points in Jon Osterman’s, aka Dr. Manhattan’s, life.

In the wake of the bombing of Hiroshima, Osterman’s father, a watchmaker, pushes his son to give up a career in watchmaking and become a scientist.

Jon attends Princeton and then, in 1959, becomes employed by a research lab in Gila Flats, Arizona. There he meets and falls in love with a lab worker named Janey Slater.

At a carnival, a fat man steps on and breaks Janey’s watch. Jon later fixes the watch, but forgets it in his lab coat. When he goes to retrieve his lab coat from a test vault, he gets accidentally locked inside. When his fellow scientists return from their lunch break, Jon asks to be released, but to everyone’s horror, the vault has automatically time-locked and generators have already began warming up to begin an intrinsic field removal experiment.

Waiting to die, Jon is disintegrated in a flash of light. A month later, “ghosts” of Jon begin to appear at the research site. First a circulatory system, then a muscled skeleton, until finally, he is assembled as a full being, complete with blue skin and fantastic super-human abilities.

Dr. Manhattan is born

Even though he retains his memories, he becomes distant and apethetic to those around him. He argues frequently with Janey, but pretends to still love her. In addition to his new, purely scientific outlook, he now has the power to telekinetically assemble and disassemble objects, teleport himself or others great distances, alter his size, duplicate himself several times, and more.

He’s quickly recruited by the United States military, and re-named “Dr. Manhattan.” They dub him the first “real” super hero, which worries the remaining costumed heroes. Although he is the U.S. Government’s ultimate weapon, he is unable, or unwilling, to prevent certain disasters, such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy. However, Jon’s incredible intelligence allows him to develop new futuristic advancements such as electric cars, safe dirigible airships, and more.

In 1966, Jon leaves Janey for a sixteen-year-old Laurie. He becomes the savior of the Vietnam War, and is allowed to remain an active superhero even after vigilantism is outlawed. The only other sanctioned hero left is The Comedian, who has also been drafted for government work.

As Dr. Manhattan recalls Laurie leaving him, he creates a giant glass structure that rises from the soil. He then stands on its balcony to ponder a meteorite shower.

Closing Quotation: “The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking. The solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I would have become a watchmaker.” - Albert Einstein

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