A decade ago, Watchmen was a singular entity and it was easy enough to identify the most violent moments. Today, the Watchmen Universe contains not only the original, seminal work, but also Before Watchmen and the Geoff Johns/Gary Frank DCU crossover Doomsday Clock.
In other words, there’s more than one series to search through for the most gory Watchmen moments now, and there are plenty to choose from. Doomsday Clock, especially, introduced new and brutal characters like the incredibly violent Marionette. It's easy to hate some of these nasty individuals considering some of them eliminate our beloved Minutemen, and the reader knows these heroes won't be resurrected.
When Watchmen released in 1986, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, it changed the medium of comic books forever, and its impact continues to be felt to this day. Over the years, Moore has officially cut all ties with DC Comics, and demanded he be referred to only as “The Original Writer” in all modern Watchmen spinoffs. Though he may reject the notion, his characters continue to be relatable and interesting more than three decades after they were created.
Watchmen is told in a non-linear fashion, meaning there are frequent flashbacks to a familiar, yet different, history. The Vietnam War, for example, turned out very differently in the world of Watchmen, thanks in large part to the existence of an all-powerful American superhuman. Even in this fictional world, however, the event was still full of horror and atrocity.
Perhaps the most jarring moment depicted in the comic came when the Comedian, an anti-hero with a serious vicious streak, coldly murdered the Vietnamese woman carrying his child. Sure, the woman took a swing at the Comedian with a glass bottle, but that was after he informed her he was bailing on her and the kid, so he's still the bad guy in this situation.
The fact Dr. Manhattan stood by and did nothing as this woman was murdered is an entirely different, yet still disturbing, issue.
One of the bloodiest and most emotionally traumatizing scenes in the original Watchmen series comes near the end. By that point, readers had seen the all-powerful Dr. Manhattan atomize his fair share of people, but that didn’t prepare them for the moment he completely annihilated Rorschach.
Manhattan’s reasons for doing so were understandable, as Rorschach had demonstrated a distinct inability to compromise. But that didn’t change the fact readers had to watch their favorite vigilante get turned into a pile of pink snow. As Rorschach defiantly screamed, “Do it,” most readers were screaming “Don’t!”
Watchmen is chock-full of sublime moments, but the most famous of them all is the final twist of the series - the moment Ozymandias reveals that, unlike a “Republic serial villain,” he’d enacted his final plan “35 minutes ago.” Adrian Veidt's scheme involved launching a fake alien assault on important cities around the world.
Ozymandias was attempting to end the Cold War and unite humanity against an extraterrestrial threat, but the results were not pretty. Millions were killed where they stood, including a number of background characters that Watchmen readers had just spent 12 issues empathizing and connecting with.
During the original Watchmen series, Walter Kovacs, better known as Rorschach, does a stint in prison after being set-up and finally captured by the police. The vigilante does plenty of damage in his attempt to escape arrest, but it’s nothing compared to the pain he doles out once he’s behind bars.
The first, and most agonizing, of Rorschach’s prison incidents occurs when a fellow inmate threatens to shiv him in the back. Rorschach responds by splashing boiling hot fry oil right in his antagonist’s face, a vicious attack that must have looked, sounded, and smelled awful to everyone in the room.
This event precedes Rorschach’s infamous declaration of, “I’m not locked up in here with you, you’re locked up in here with me,” and it’s a message well sent.