Janey Slater, Doctor Manhattan’s former love interest.
Edgar Jacobi, AKA Moloch the Mystic, a former enemy of Manhattan’s.
Wally Weaver, called “Dr. Manhattan’s Buddy” in the newspapers.
These people are all dead or dying of cancer.
Not according to Nova Express newspaper.
At a prime time talk show appearance, Manhattan is confronted with this list of cancer victims and the connection is made quite clear. The accusation startles Manhattan, and the mob of newsmen crushing in around him as he tries to stammer out of the line of questioning only makes him more and more anxious.
Finally, he rather loudly insists that everyone just leave him alone – by teleporting the entire studio audience and even some of the camera equipment, outside the building. This breakdown is broadcast live for the entire nation to see.
Manhattan then transports himself to his home at a military base where he catches a Private painting a nuclear symbol and quarantine notice on the door to his quarters. Seeing what this means, Manhattan teleports to Arizona – back to where he was “born”, the Gila Flats Test Base.
The base is long abandoned, but a torn and tattered photo of Jon Osterman and Janey Slater still hangs on the wall inside the bar where they had their first drink. Manhattan takes the photo in his hand and looks at it with the closest emotion he can approximate to sadness. Then, without a word, he teleports again – to the angry red planet, Mars.
Doctor Manhattan – the only real superhero, the man they call God – has just left the earth in a self-imposed exile.
Earlier that evening, Laurie (Silk Spectre II) was beginning to understand that her boyfriend, Doctor Manhattan, simply cannot truly understand what it means to love her. Distraught, she paid a visit to Dan (Night Owl II), looking for an ear to bend and a shoulder to cry on.
The two went for a walk and were attacked by knife-wielding thugs in an alley. Their training kicked in and they were able to defend themselves. It’s an odd first date, but the chemistry is impossible for them to dismiss. Still, they do their best to bury their feelings for now. But you know they’re not going to be able to resist their emotions for long. They both need to feel alive again and it’s clear they provide that rush of life to one another.
The exile of Doctor Manhattan is one of the most important moments in Watchmen. While the opposite is actually stated in the comic, to me his exile has always been a very human decision. Perhaps he’s not as inhuman as everyone has thought after all – he can feel emotional pain, he can feel guilt, he can feel self-pity, he can feel betrayed.
But more importantly, his leaving creates a void in world politics. Without America’s ultimate weapon holding back the Russians, they sieze the opportunity and almost immediately invade Afghanistan.
War is imminent. Nuclear war is likely. The end is nigh. The Armageddon clock ticks ever closer to midnight. And the only person who could have stopped us from killing ourselves, has just taken up residence on another planet.
This can’t be good.