Henry Creel’s Parallels with Dr. Manhattan (“Very Strange Things Want You to Know”)


Attention! This article contains spoilers for the first volume of season 4 of the TV series “Very Strange Things”.

The villain from “Very Strange Cases” Vecna, also known as Henry Creel, has supernatural parallels with Dr. Manhattan from “The Guardians”. Netflix’s biggest TV show, Very Strange Things, has always openly stated its tendency to draw inspiration from superhero comics. In the very first episode, Will and Dustin fought over a copy of Uncanny X-Men #134, while Eleven (or “Jane”) is conceptually very similar to Jean Grey from the X-Men.

Vecna, the villain of the 4th season of the TV series “Very Strange Things”, actually has no direct parallel. But attentive viewers noticed a curious detail that seemed to point to another superhero franchise — Alan Moore’s “Guardians”. Vecna’s visions often include an obsessive image of a grandfather clock, and he seems strangely—and as yet inexplicably—obsessed with the passage of time. In The Guardians, the ticking of the clock is closely associated with Dr. Manhattan, the most godlike of all Moore’s superheroes. This is related to the origin story of Dr. Manhattan, when he accidentally left his wristwatch in an internal field laboratory and became trapped in an experiment when he went after them.

But the hints about Dr. Manhattan are not just Easter eggs in the 4th volume of season 1 of “Very Strange Cases”. Upon close examination, they play an important role in the story, and the series deliberately draws parallels between the character and the Mystery. These references may well serve as a hint to the Vekna arch when the 2nd volume of the 4th season of “Very Strange Cases” is released.

Parallels of Dr. Manhattan Henry Creel in the plot of “Very strange cases 4”

Vecna’s backstory is revealed in season 4 of Very Strange Cases, episode 7, which features an extended sequence in which Vecna tells Nancy the story of her origin, while Eleven regains her repressed memories. Venka is actually Henry Creel, born with the apparently natural psychic abilities of telepathy, telekinesis and creating illusions. He became Dr. Brenner’s “number one” with the U.S. government’s MK Ultra program working to replicate Creel’s abilities when they realized he couldn’t be relied on. Number One’s powers were suppressed for several years until Eleven unwittingly released him. He went on a bloody rampage in Hawkins’ lab, killing other children until he and Eleven faced each other in a telekinetic duel, which she eventually won. This conflict tore the fabric of reality itself, and Number One was blown inside out, his body was devastated by the multiverse energies he was exposed to.

The revelations are frightening, putting Vekna in a classic mirror image of the villain of the Eleven. Curiously, however, the scenes deliberately parallel the origin story of Dr. Manhattan’s memoirs in Zack Snyder’s 2009 adaptation of The Guardians. The two sequences are even tuned to the same music, which highlights the fact that this is done intentionally, not accidentally. Both characters are introduced in 1959 — this is the year Creel and his family move to Hawkins, and this is the same year that Dr. Manhattan regains his powers. Dr. Manhattan adorns his forehead with the symbol of hydrogen, the atomic mass of which is equal to one. And both flashbacks end with their central characters being subjected to lightning flashes that physically transform them.

The Deeper Meaning of Dr. Manhattan Powers by Henry Creel

The obvious parallels between Dr. Manhattan and Vecna serve as pointers to understanding the character of the latter. Both consider themselves more than people, and both are drawn to simplicity — that’s why Dr. Manhattan chooses hydrogen as his symbol, because he respects its simplicity. However, the key difference is that Dr. Manhattan simply seeks to establish peace on Earth, whereas Vecna views human nature itself as a distortion of the natural world. According to Vecna, the human desire for order is imposed on the world, and he especially points to the passage of time, explaining the symbolism of Vecna’s grandfather clock.

Both Vecna and Dr. Manhattan are essentially outcasts of society who perceive reality differently than any other person. Dr. Manhattan considers himself a prisoner of time, because he perceives everything, but cannot change it. “I’m tired of the Earth, I’m tired of people, I’m tired of being entangled in the tangles of their lives,” he remarks at one point. On the contrary, Vecna seems to be trapped in the Reverse, confined in a realm where time is out of sync and reality is frozen in 1983. He learns to use his mind to explore the real world, and uses the same “paths” to distort and break the minds of teenagers living in Hawkins, eventually killing them and using their suffering to open the gates. Vecna is best viewed as a dark mirror of Dr. Manhattan.