Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen can be considered a fairly thorough guide to 20th-century history, using numerous real-world historical events to comment on the messy and ever-changing geopolitical landscape of the era. Most of these events are colored by Moore and Gibbons's cast of masked vigilantes. They discover their quest for peace, justice, and the American way isn't easy when your creators are set on building a world that adheres to the chaos of realism as opposed to the fantastical plotlines of your average comic.
Watchmen, considered not only one of the greatest graphic novels, but also one of the best books of all time, presents a cracked mirror to our reality - one in which superheroes get drafted into the Vietnam conflict and are paid to take down presidents. It's real history, but not quite as you know it.
The clash on Iwo Jima was among the most brutal events for the US forces in the Pacific. Marines not only had to contend with Japanese forces, but also the unforgiving terrain situated between a long-dormant volcano and what the American forces nicknamed "Meatgrinder Hill."
Their hard-won victory was immortalized by the iconic photo of the US flag being planted on Mount Suribachi, which later inspired a Marine Corps memorial in Virginia. In real life, the flag-raising was done by a group of six Marines. In Watchmen's timeline, the Comedian is front-and-center for this important moment in America history.
In 1964, the now-legendary heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali (still known as Cassius Clay at the time) had yet to prove he was "the greatest." That is, until he faced Sonny Liston, an older competitor with a ferocious reputation. Ali took the world heavyweight title after six rounds when Liston was unable to continue.
Before Watchmen: Comedian #2 reveals that Eddie Blake was in attendance to witness the historic event. He watched the match with his pal, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
While the Comedian was fairly close with President Richard Nixon in the original Watchmen timeline, the Before Watchmen series contradicts this established history somewhat by having him on good terms with the Kennedys. Both stories offer different versions of the circumstances surrounding John F. Kennedy's demise. In Watchmen, Eddie Blake says he's responsible for the crime - on Nixon's orders, no less.
However, in Before Watchmen, Blake claims he has nothing to do with it. He says he was busy confronting Moloch the Mystic and saw the tragedy unfold live on TV. He does pull the trigger in an alternate reality, though.
If only America had its own real-life Dr. Manhattan in the '60s. In Watchmen's timeline, the Doctor is pretty much on retainer for the US government as the country's go-to atomic deterrent. The Doctor is so effective, in fact, that the Russians "run scared," bringing an end to the stand-off between the US and the Soviet Union.
In our world, the stand-off between the planet's two great superpowers dragged on for 44 years from 1947 to 1991.