Dr. Manhattan - The truth behind the feats - aka: Why so blue?

Alrighty gang, after several heated discussions over the actual power level of Dr. Manhattan, I went through all of the Watchmen books with the intent of pulling every use of power Dr. Manhattan shows, complete with page numbers and all. Now, while I have done that for the most part, I began to skip a few things here and there in relation to repeats of feats (well, a few anyways).

Here are the blanket rules for this discussion for anyone wanting to get involved: If I missed something, give me the book number and page number you are drawing your intel from. None of this – “Well, I thought this happened…” or “I remember something like…” or anything pulled from any of the wikis at all, which for the most part add a lot of speculation and not enough fact. We are dealing with cold, hard facts here. Not the ands, ifs and buts.

Also, I may have included one or two things where a random source in the comic itself states he can do something – but I also try to balance that out with what is actually seen. So, let us not get off into, “Well such and such says he has control of all of this”, when it is not actually seen. People in general say they or others can do a lot of things, but the reality is often quite different than what is said and what they want us to believe.

Dr. Manhattan Feats:

Watchmen #1:

Pg 20: Size alteration

Pg 21: Some super strength, lifting what looks to be a heavy piece of equipment

Pg 22: Teleportation of another

Watchmen #2:

Pg 15: Talks of ’s Matter Manipulation and Teleportation abilities

Watchmen #3:

Pg 4: Ability to create duplicates of himself (no more than 2 of Manhattan seen at one time) and to project some electricity from his hands

Pg 5: Ability to phase

Pg 9: Telekinesis

Pg 16: Teleporting a room full of people, then teleporting self

Pg 19: Teleporting self

Pg 21: Teleported to Mars

Pg 26: Survival in Mars’ Atmosphere

Watchmen #4:

Pg 5: Flash/awareness of the future while in the past – seems to be viewing events possibly simultaneously throughout segments of his life for the majority of the issue

Pg 6: Has his intrinsic field removed, and is seemingly vaporized or disintegrated – specifics aren’t discussed as to what actually happens – the intrinsic field is described as some theoretical field that holds things together – but over the next couple of pages, Manhattan pieces himself together, often slipping in and out of view – by pg 10, Blue boy is reformed in all his…uh…glory…

Pg 10: It is stated he can control atomic structure itself – you only see him dismantle a rifle without his hands as this is stated, and blasting/melting the top of a tank

Pg 14: He makes some guys head explode

Pg 16: Shows knowledge of future events, and states inability to affect it

Pg 17: Hinted that he does not age, or ages much, much slower than humans

Pg 20: Size manipulation of self

Pg 22: Teleports a bunch of angry protesters presumably back to their homes

Pg 26: Floats a few feet off of the ground and forms a crystalline structure on Mars

Watchmen #8:

Pg 23: a little more on how he views the time stream, and teleporting himself and Laurie to Mars

Watchmen #9:

Pg 3: Able to create some sort of enviro field around Laurie allowing her to survive on Mars

Pg 5: More on his perception of time and how everything he sees is preordained

Pg 6: Creates a table and chairs out of the crystalline structure

Pg 9: Makes his structure on Mars fly

Pg 10: Creates water in bottle

Pg 17: States he reads atoms, also states there is some trouble seeing to a point in his future, possibly due to a static from maybe an electromagnetic pulse

Watchmen #12:

Pg 7: Can see or sense tachyons – the “static” makes tracking them difficult – and more teleportation

Pg 12: More talk on his time stream view

Pg 14: Has intrinsic field removed…again…Veidt wasn’t even sure it would work

Pg 17: Size manipulation – and sudden reappearance

Pg 18: Talks about restructuring himself from intrinsic field removal being the first thing he has learned…talks about being able to walk on the sun, etc.

Pg 24: Vaporizes Rorschach

Pg 26: Walks up a wall and through a ceiling

The thing about intrinsic fields...

Let’s talk about this intrinsic field thing, since there is a lot of speculation on his being able to control his own atoms or even reverse entropy (though it is only stated that he has “restructured” himself)…

So, what is an intrinsic field you might ask? It is never fully explained in the comics how and why it does what it does, and it never truly explains the disintegration/vaporizing effect, other than the idea that an intrinsic field holds stuff together.

So, from the science consultant on the Watchmen movie (the guy who wrote “The Physics of Superheroes”, and is heavily into physics and nanotechnology), are his thoughts on the made up concept of intrinsic fields (I know this is more in relation to the movie than the comic, but it is the closest thing to an explanation on intrinsic fields as they are used in the Watchmen universe):

“In a previous accident, the character had destroyed his "intrinsic field" (a made-up concept), which presumably stripped him of the fundamental forces—electromagnetic, strong force, weak force—other than gravity, that hold material together.”

Possible Power Limits:

In Watchmen #4, in the Dr. Manhattan: Super-Powers and the Superpowers section, it is noted that "in well supported theoretical terms", that Manhattan could destroy "large areas" of soviet territory instantly (no notes to quantify "large"), and that he could deflect or disarm at least 60% of incoming missiles from Soviet bases in the USSR and Europe before reaching their intended targets, if they were to launch a full scale nuclear assault.


Sooo...I have been on the forums and threads and have seen a ton of misinformation on Manhattan from people who have read these books. There is honestly very little that changes his overall power level in these books, except for discussions about one ability, and this time I am going into scans to show the scope of what happens.

Could Manhattan change time if he wanted to? Well, here is the answer:

He changed an event, which fractured the quantum reality, and in each new timeline/reality, other choices were made which further fractured those timelines/realities creating further timelines/realities, so forth and so on. As shown in the book, in one reality he went with Silk and in another he still went with Rorschach -- a fractured quantum reality wherein he is the quantum observer. Each reality is equally real and valid.

He doesn't just observe and decide what happens. He can travel to points in his own timeline and like a time traveler, can change events, but as is shown in the story, when he does so, he messes things up royally:

That should give an idea of the scope of what he did, each and every choice he could and will make causes a fracture, and each and every reality ends up like the below:

You see, according to his words: "I know that I can ride the timeline back and forth between the future and the moment of my creation..."

He is in effect a time traveler along his own timeline and has shown the ability to change things and impose his will on them, which has shown the effect of fracturing quantum reality. It's the whole basis of the story, hence the planet blowing up at the end of issue number 2 and him going to fix things, the main true blue (har har) Manhattan lost control of things. He changed an event in the past and due to his unique position in the timestream fractured the quantum reality (an unexpected event since he thought he would change one tiny slip of paper and the timeline would move on from there changed) -- which obviously he had no control over once it started happening hence the end of the world scenario and his need to go and fix things.

When he states he is a slave to predetermination, there is a good reason for it as you can plainly see.

But it doesn't stop there. I have always theorized that Manhattan lost this time travel aspect after the tachyon incident with Ozy. Here we have some proof:

He cannot wait to see what this new box reveals? If he still maintained the ability, shouldn't he already know? Based on Manhattan's thoughts in the scan, he says he cannot wait to see what this new box entails, showing he doesn't already know. It looks like the tachyons disrupted this ability of Manhattan's for good, so he lives in the here and now it seems, no more time travel along his own timeline.

And for those wondering if he did indeed create life? Read the scan above. He picks some material from the planet up, he evolved and altered some microscopic forms, made some goop out of it, and let it go to see what it becomes. Now we don't know of the quality of it, or what it will even become, but there it is.

In Closing:

So there it is. A good starting point I feel for anyone wanting to discuss Dr. Manhattan. I’ll update it with any factual information presented when it is verified

Let the rumble begin...or not if everyone chooses to ignore this…

30 Comments Refresh
Posted by Hellos

Good job.
Posted by JediXMan

Nicely done - but prepare to be flamed by the fanboys that are sure to come.

Moderator Online
Posted by Wyldsong

Thanks both.  And I am sure the flames will come, but I am only presenting the cold hard facts here=)

Posted by Wyldsong

And, I even offered a means for them to set the record straight if anything is in fact not right in my post.  We shall see...

Posted by Korg
@Wyldsong said:
"Let the rumble begin...or not if everyone chooses to ignore this…"
Unfortunately, the people who should be reading this probably will ignore it. Very nice post though. I didn't check them all against my copy, but it obviously seems pretty complete. This sort of thing is long overdue for Manhattan, especially since the movie came out.
Posted by Wyldsong

Well, even if they choose to ignore this, it is a least a good resource to have up for discussions and reference to counter the wiki stuff=)

Posted by fallenangel5991
I lost my Watchman Comicbook, but I have the movie with me, and in the end of the movie Doctor Manhattan said he would go to a far away galaxy to create life.
Posted by Wyldsong
@fallenangel5991 said:
"@Wyldsong: I lost my Watchman Comicbook, but I have the movie with me, and in the end of the movie Doctor Manhattan said he would go to a far away galaxy to create life. "

In the end of the comic, he states he was going to leave for another galaxy, and hints at possibly trying to create life, so it is very similar.   
Now, please do not take any of the following the wrong way or as an attack, nor is it meant in any way shape or form to downplay Manhattan:  The reason this isn't something that was added to the list, is because like I stated in the OP, it's not something he has actually done.  It's easy to say you are going to do something, but actually doing it is another story altogether.  Remember, all I want for this thread are the hardcore facts.  Feats he has actually performed.  Now it is a fact that he stated something along those lines, but it is not a deed we ever see him perform.
Posted by TheSpiritStalker

Nice job I saw this interview about Dr Manhattan on the Watchmen DVD Special features. They say he's blue because that's the colour an electron has when it moves at a high speeds. He also glows blue because electrons constantly leak out of him and he has to constantly hold himself together, that's how he was able to darken his skin colour in the movie.

Posted by Wyldsong
@TheSpiritStalker: Glad you liked the post!
Posted by Ms. Omega

Great Info on Dr. M

Posted by difficlus

Well done! good job as always

Posted by Wyldsong

Thankee, thankee Ms. omega and difficlus=)

Posted by karrob
@Hellos said:
" Good job. "
Posted by Golden Superman

I want his powers.

Posted by Wyldsong

I just recently added a blurb on possible power limits, as it was overlooked from the initial posting.

Posted by Thepowercosmic

nice work 

Posted by Wyldsong
Posted by Archeit

Ehem, hi!

There are new comics with Dr. Manhattan:


With #3 And #4, coming soon.

You could arguably say he enters a new dimension in this, or reset/undo a part of time.

Posted by evilvegeta74

Very informative!

Edited by Wyldsong

@Archeit said:

Ehem, hi!

There are new comics with Dr. Manhattan:


With #3 And #4, coming soon.

You could arguably say he enters a new dimension in this, or reset/undo a part of time.

You know, I took a good long break from this site, swore I would never come back, and now that I am pretty much done with my major modding projects (if you play Skyrim on the pc, check out my custom race mod: http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/24397), I may have to change my stance. I will update this blog shortly with the new stuff=)

As for the time thing, I will most definitely delve into that.

Posted by Wyldsong

Well, I finally updated this with some Before Watchmen Manhattan stuff. I'll go back through the issues and make sure I didn't miss anything, but I think I pretty much have the basics covered. All in all, Before Watchmen Manhattan was a pretty good, and really had the feel of Manhattan down. I dug it quite a bit.

Posted by Lisorael

I would like to voice a possible alternative to Dr. Manhattan's determinism paradox. As it stood, he viewed futures, which then became unavoidable, in that he could not have viewed them without them being them being bound to happen.

In Dune, by Frank Herbert, predestination and prescience were intrinsically linked, forcing the observer to follow strict paths to avoid cataclysm and such. This caused many prescient individuals to become very bored and frustrated with their existence, even if they were possessed of truly divine patience. However, there were several loopholes. In certain cases, a person would view things within immediate futures, or along certain specific lines of causality. This meant that they were bound to know and live the existence laid out for them by their oracular visions, but they still had some leeway as to what they must observe.

For instance, The God Emperor knew a certain fate awaited him at some point in his life. It was arranged meticulously to happen within a certain period of time after several thousand years. He had it boiled down to the point where he could simply view the event, the singular occurrence at the end of his time, to the exclusion of the happenings directly involved. He intentionally viewed only the general picture, and the main details. This allowed newness, the unexpected, and a sense that he could wait, could be human, if only in that respect.

Dr. Manhattan was revealed by Ozymandias to be still in possession of his feelings. He still has desires and hopes and ideals. A semi-omnipotent being with some remaining human traits may not want to know everything. He is wise enough to realize that knowing it all might be the last nail in the coffin of his humanity, and he wants to hold onto it a little longer.

In conclusion, I posit that he still retains all of his abilities. He has no been hampered in any way by the tachyon incident, but has perhaps been tempered by the forced realization that Ozymandias had achieved the one the only true, lasting peace that could possibly exist on Earth now, and even though it was barbaric, heartless, despicable, it was necessary. Dr. Manhattan may have just realized that forethought can be applied without prescience, and perhaps he's trying to do just that.

Posted by Pokergeist


Posted by Wyldsong



Helps to clarify what he has and has not been shown to do.

Posted by Twix_Right_Side

Oh god. Why the f*ck can't he put on pants!

Anyway,nicely done!

Edited by Wyldsong
Posted by RealityWarper

Great Blog :D

I enjoyed it.

Edited by sophia89

Good job.

Posted by DrFate

@wyldsong: well, actually we couldn't see more than two Manhattans at a time in the "Watchmen" book, but it's stated that at least two Manhattans are working on something in the laboratory while he is having a threesome with Laurie ( two manhattans & laurie )