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In Chapter IV ("Watchmaker") of Watchmen, during Dr. Manhattan's reflection of his life, there is a scene where he mentions his father's death and says

In 1969, I'm receiving news of my fathers death.

In 1959, he's opening a telegram from the military informing him of his son's accidental disintegration. I never correct their mistake.

So he never informed his father that he's still alive until his death (in fact this also has to imply that Dr. Manhattan's true name wasn't largely expatiated upon in the news right from the start). But I wonder why he did so. While Dr. Manhattan's increasing distancing from his own humanity and human concerns in general is a given, this seems to have been a rather gradual process and right after his rematerialization he still seemed to have much of Jon Osterman's character left, as also evident from his continued relationship with Janey. So why did Jon Osterman never reassure his father of his survival?

  • 3
    I assumed it was because a part of him (since he was still quite Jon) blamed his father for his accident - his father was the one who pushed him to become a nuclear physicist and his father was the one who taught him watch-making, and if either of those two things hadn't happened, he wouldn't have been Manhattan'd. – Shisa Aug 29 '14 at 17:58
  • @Shisa Sounds interesting. Don't hesitate to flesh that out into an answer. – TARS Aug 29 '14 at 18:01
  • Why delete the tags :( – Gallifreyan May 14 '17 at 23:22
  • @Gallifreyan Hmm, I don't know. To make sure that they are appropriate. They didn't really seem appropriate, so I made sure whoever added them is sure enough about them to bring the dedication of adding them again if they're really appropriate. – TARS May 14 '17 at 23:24
  • Well, I added [dc] because we add it to all DC's properties (except Vertigo); I added [dr-manhattan] because it existed, and it seems that it's better to add it to all question about him than to burninate it. – Gallifreyan May 14 '17 at 23:27
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The next panel in the original comic shows that he kept his identity hidden until immediately after his father's death. There's no further canon confirmation why this was the case but I think it's likely to boil down to two issues;

  • To protect his father from being attacked or used by his enemies

  • Because he considers himself a freak and doesn't wish to expose his (already unwell) father to the shock of seeing him alive again.

enter image description here


Moving farther away from the established canon, we see that Jon clearly has unresolved issues with his father. In an earlier script treatment, he strongly intimates that he blames his father for the accident (for pressuring him to become a physicist).

enter image description here

And in Before Watchmen : Dr Manhattan, we learn that Jon has been mucking with his own timeline, deliberately creating situations that help to prevent nuclear war. Although it's not explicitly stated, we can reasonably assume that avoiding his father was one of the decisions he took in order to prevent further catastrophe.

enter image description here

  • The first point might be mitigated by a rather secret information. But the second point doesn't seem too unreasonable. – TARS Aug 29 '14 at 18:15
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    I actually read the opposite. First picture, he has no interest in contacting his father. Second picture, he can reveal his true name because with his father dead there is no risk that his father would try to contact him. – user32191 Aug 29 '14 at 18:48
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I think the comic book never explained much about the relationship of Jon with his father, but the way his father dumps the pieces of the watch he was working with, it seemed quite an authoritative father.

So, I would guess that their relationship wasn't good to start with (maybe they didn't talk to each other even when Jon was still Jon?), then followed by the growing distancing from humanity that you pointed.

A second option could be that he thinks that Jon is actually dead, he now considers himself a different being/entity.

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    That was the act of his father being protective, not aggressive. He didn't want is son following him into a profession he considered "dead". – Valorum Aug 29 '14 at 18:37
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    Good point, but is the perception of Jon of those kind of acts, more than his father's intentions, what counts. Lets say that his father had an aggressive way of being protective, imposing his will and judgement. I think Jon looked quite dissapointed and sad when his father dumped the watch pieces. – user32191 Aug 29 '14 at 18:45
3

He did

In Before Watchmen1 - Dr. Manhattan #1, he visits his father, who is delirios.

enter image description here

Later he figures that Osterman Sr. was right, and Dr. Manhattan is not Jon Osterman, but something else entirely.

enter image description here

1 The whole Before Watchmen series was pinned by Alan Moore; on the other hand, they're still officially published by DC. Point is, they may contradict Moore's original intentions, but technically they're as canon as it gets.

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    Oh, he hated them with a vengeance. Then again, he sold them in the first place so it's his fault they exist – Valorum Jan 16 '17 at 12:56
  • I don't think they're bad though. Minutemen and Dr. Manhattan were particularly well-written, and the others weren't that bad. I was under the expression Minutemen drew from Hollis' book, which was attached to original Watchmen, so it is really Moore's own doing. – Gallifreyan Jan 16 '17 at 13:08

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