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Chapter One: At Midnight, All the Agents...
Chapter Two: Absent Friends
Chapter Three: The Judge of All the Earth
Chapter Four: Watchmaker
Chapter Five: Fearful Symmetry
Chapter Six: The Abyss Gazes Also
Chapter Seven: A Brother to Dragons
Chapter Eight: Old Ghosts
Chapter Nine: The Darkness of Mere Being
Chapter Ten: Two Riders were Approaching
Chapter Eleven: Look on My Works, Ye Mighty...
Chapter Twelve: A Stronger Loving World
A number of motifs run through the novel, many of them tied to the title, "Watchmen", and various meanings of the word "watch." Thus there are many references to observation, watching, and sight; also to time. (The "observation" meaning of "watch" comes first, etymologically. The connection to time and timepieces comes from the nautical usage of "watch" for a period of duty.)
The Watchmen TPB, unlike many other comics TPBs less
worthy of one, has no introduction, in keeping with Moore's policy of letting
the reader judge events for himself.
Chapter 1: At Midnight, All the Agents
Chapter 1 is a plot chapter, introducing the mystery of Blake's murder. The major characters are introduced through the device of Rorschach warning them about the mask-killer, which has the unintended consequence of reacquainting Dan and Laurie.
' ' - - ' - - ' - Dog car | cass in al | ley this morn | ing ' ' - ' ' - Tire tread | on burst stom | ach
- ' - ' - ' - ' This cit | y is | afraid | of me
- - ' - ' ' I have seen | its true face.
Columbus Day. Introduces the New World theme. E.g., Rorshach's "bloodstain on chest like map of violent new continent" (6:26:1), Veidt's "whole new universe of sensations and pleasures that is just within reach" (10:end:3).
It's a few a minutes after noon (see 1:4:7); and it's Saturday. Blake was killed the previous night (Friday night / Saturday morning). (See 1:14:3.)
Rorschach has a history with dogs.
IN ALLEY THIS MORNING
Same alley we see in 5:18?
THIS CITY IS AFRAID OF ME.
Rorschach as holy avenger. We see later, 6:26:6, that Rorschach has taken on himself God's job of maintaining moral order.
Echoing the smiley-face button. Many of the motifs and themes of Watchmen are tied to the title. Both meanings of "watch"--to observe, and a timepiece--are used. Motifs associated with watch as a noun are time, intricate order, and faces and hands.
I HAVE SEEN ITS TRUE FACE
Many characters in the novel--the Comedian, Veidt, Rorschach, for starters--believe they have achieved a special insight into the nature of human existence. Each responds to this illumination radically but differently. Enlightenment and seeing behind disguises/masks is a theme throughout but is particularly emphasized in Chapter 5. This theme is appropriate in a work about people in costumes ("masks," Rorschach calls them). And Rorschach especially has an interesting view of what is his own true face.
The shape of the blotch is a recurring motif, as is the image of an obscured eye (obscured vision suggesting lack of enlightenment), the smiley face, and blood. The blood distinguishes Watchmen from the action comics it's inspired by.
The camera pulls back and up. We see Rorschach's feet as he walks through the Comedian's blood: the first instance of his obliviousness to gore. Rorschach's worldview is so grim that blood and guts hold no special terrors for him. In the corner, water from the hose. As so often in Watchmen, the picture echoes the words.
A punch in the mouth and being slammed into a mirror hardly seem sufficient to incapacitate the Comedian, but it doesn't look like the Comedian is struggling. His attitude throughout the attack seems to accord with Veidt's claim that Blake's discovery of Veidt's plot "rather drove the wind from his sails" (11:25:4). Veidt has set the "terms" for their encounter, just as he pledged (11:19:9).
They took the express elevator. The man in the funny hat is visible in the corner.
The cops are pretty incompetent. Moore sacrifices a realistic probing of the murder to dialogue that echoes the flashbacks and establishes the setting.
We see the Gunga Diner on the left, and the Mmeltdowns poster on the building, half hidden in shadow.
"The End Is Nigh"--what's the significance? Well, the novel plays a lot with the notion of the end of the world, which the harnessing of nuclear power makes possible for the first time. (Nuclear power makes the end of the human world possible--we don't have anywhere near the ability to blow Earth up.) Also, we can consider the end, not of mankind, but of one form of human existence. E.g., the harnessing of nuclear power ended the period when there was a limit to how badly people could screw things up--before 1945, no matter how many people we killed, we could always say "Well it's not the end of the world." Watchmen emphasizes this watershed. Another e.g.: the birth of Dr. Manhattan ends the age of normal men and begins the era of the Superman. Moore seems to view Dr. Manhattan as a personification of the bomb. Another e.g.: Veidt's new utopia ends "the brutal world" (11:25:7) of the Comedian--and, also, of Rorschach, which helps to explain why Rorschach's sign is appropriate for him. Why does Rorschach choose this disguise? (Note that Rorschach views being a signman as a disguise, being Rorschach as his true identity.) Because Rorschach is a moralist, and moralists always are drawn to the idea of Armageddon. Rorschach frequently uses apocalyptic language--e.g., 1:1:2 ff.
Page five provides a dramatic introduction to Rorschach.
In this panel we see the same location as the previous panel (1:4:8), but later that evening. There's a full moon. Indeed, in Watchmen the moon is always full! (E.g., 7:28:9, two weeks later.) We can add that to TAW's list of Watchmen impossibilities (TAW, 12:16:2). An airship flies by. All we see of Rorschach is his hat. He's in the same position and walking in the same direction as in the previous panel.
It's the evening of October 12th.
Rorschach's shadow looms dramatically. Moore has it both ways--he milks Rorschach for drama and action while mocking him.
He spots the Comedian's badge in the blood. (Rorschach is attracted to blood.) What's that little thing that sticks up from Rorschach's jacket?
Motif: face in a hand. Faces with hands tie in to the overall watch motif.
The moon's shadow dramatically conceals Rorschach's face.
Rorschach sets his flashlight on the floor to illuminate the room.
The closet has a couple of shelves, empty, below the main compartment.
Rorschach notices that he can extend his arm further outside than inside the closet
He measures with the clotheshanger.
The Comedian's costume and accessories: the Minuteman photo, a knife in a sheath, mask, shirt/suspenders/belt, helmet, gun.
This is Rorschach's "surprised" blot ( WTD, DS). It appears also in 5:24:5. and 6:20:9 . But why is Rorschach surpised, if he's already found the Comedian's badge?
Rorschach is dramatically illuminated by his flashlight.
Rorschach has put the mask over his hand: another face/hand combo.
Rorschach, having set the mask on the floor, removes the gun. The new angle reveals the Comedian's boots.
I BUMP INTO THE SCREAMING SKULL!
Presumably the fellow Hollis punches in 8:27:7.
Transition: same photo as 1:8:7.
Hollis' cigarette smoke rises past the photo.
THE LEFT HOOK THAT FLOORED CAPTAIN AXIS
Presumably the beswastikaed fellow in 8:27:7.
"OBSOLETE [gasoline- rather than electric-powered] MODELS A SPECIALTY": a comment on Hollis' character. (TAW).
The couple at the bottom are the same couple as in 8:13:2 ff., Derf and friend. They appear to be wearing the exact same clothes, jewelry, etc.
A stupid way to enter.
FINE LIKE THIS
Same response as in 10:27:4.
When in costume, Rorschach's dialogue is represented in a crinkly balloon; when out of costume, as in Chapter 6, it's in a normal balloon. Thus the crinkles seem to represent the muffling effect of Rorschach's mask. The best evidence of this interpretation is 10:9:3 and 10:9:4. However, in panels in which Rorschach is in costume but with his mask pulled up, as here, the balloon is still crinkly. I think that these panels are a mistake--the balloon in panels like this one is misdrawn. Against this interpretation is the fact that the "mistake" is made at every opportunity. Another possibility is that the crinkles represent, not the physical effect of the mask, but a voluntary change in Rorschach's voice modulation when he's in costume.
Rorschach pulls his mask down.
OUT OF PRISON.
Major motion lines.
Rorshach shovels all but one of Dan's sugar cubes into his pocket. The cubes are mentioned in the police report, Chapter 6 endmatter.
I FEEL KINDA EXPOSED UP HERE.
Since anyone could see them through the window, as we do in this panel.
THAT BOOK MASON WROTE. HE SAID SOME BAD THINGS ABOUT THE COMEDIAN IN IT.
Endmatter to Chapter 2, page 10.
OCTOBER 13TH, 1985
It's Sunday evening.
SLEPT ALL DAY. AWOKEN AT 4:37....SOON IT WILL BE DARK.
Presumably Rorschach went home after visiting Dan in the early hours of the 13th, and slept till the evening of the 13th.
LANDLADY...HAS FIVE CHILDREN BY FIVE DIFFERENT FATHERS.
We see two of them in 7:11:9 and the same two plus one more in 5:11:4 and 10:6:2 ff.
ON FRIDAY NIGHT, A COMEDIAN DIED IN NEW YORK.
Correct: 11 October 1985 was indeed a Friday.
This is Rorschach's "Happy Harry's" blot. It appears also in 10:14:2. (WTD, DS)
Rorschach's wet coat drips onto the floor.
Laurie's wearing her Dr. Manhattan earrings.
It's unclear whether Rorschach's apologizing for using the wrong name or for not answering the question, or both. He's careful to get her name right from this point on: Rorschach's always formally polite, and in any case he's sensitive to naming people correctly (cf. 6:9:4).
I DON'T LIKE...THAT HORRIBLE MONOTONE VOICE
Unlike the other characters, Rorschach's dialogue is always printed without boldface emphasis. (Exceptions: 5:28:2 ff. and 12:24:3). I imagine Rorschach is so unrelentingly intense that it sounds like he's emphasizing every word.
HOW ABOUT TONIGHT? RAFAEL'S AT 9:30?
That's only an hour away.
THERE IS GOOD AND THERE IS EVIL
Rorschach is a moral objectivist...
AND EVIL MUST BE PUNISHED
...but also an atheist. If God can't punish the wicked, Rorschach must.
This is Rorschach's "never compromise" blot. It appears also in 12:20:4 ff. (WTD, DS)
I GUESS IT'S GETTING PRETTY LATE.
Transition: Echoes previous panel: "THERE IS SO LITTLE TIME." If this scene follows Rorschach's last diary entry chronologically, Dan and Laurie have been at Rafael's for 3 hours.
The wine glass bears the zigzag motif. We're looking through the window viewed obliquely in the the previous panel. A waiter is waiting for Laurie to finish with the bill..
Watchmen fashions: Laurie's hair, falling over her right shoulder, is tied to a "necklace" which attaches to her left earring. (She wears her usual Dr. Manhattan earring in her right ear.)
Laurie rests her purse on the ledge. Dan has cleaned the blood off the badge.
Chapter One, at twenty-six pages, is the shortest chapter, which may be related to there not being much for this chapter to do, besides introducing the main characters. All the other chapters are 28 pages, except for Chapter 12, which has 32 pages.
"At midnight, all the agents and superhuman crew, go out and round up everyone who knows more than they do."--Bob Dylan, "Desolation Row" (1965). (There are some minor discrepancies between the lyrics quoted in Watchmen and the lyrics on the web site.)
Under the Hood, Part I
Photograph, page 2: Moe is holding one of his "novelty items," a plastic spider, over young Hollis' right shoulder. Mason Sr. is holding a wrench and clutching some papers to his chest; behind him is a New York Metropolitan Opera House poster. Behind Motz is Moe's phonograph.
Under the Hood, Part II
"There were times when I'd upset my dad and mom by loudly wishing I was back in Montana. Despite everything, I wished no such thing, but sometimes I'd be mad at them at it seemed like the best way to hurt them, to reawaken all those old doubts and worries and sleeping dogs of guilt. I'm sorry I did it now, and I wish I could have told them that while they were alive. I wish I could have told them that they were right in bringing me to the city, that they did the right thing by me. I wish I could have let them know that. Their lives would have been so much easier." Laurie is Hollis, Sally is Hollis' parents, raising Laurie to be a masked hero is bringing Hollis to New York. Laurie does what Hollis didn't: "I love you Mom. You never did anything wrong by me." (12:29:6). Cf. 8:2:2.
Chapter 2: Absent Friends
Chapter 2 is a character chapter, focussing on the victim, Edward Blake--not through his own flashbacks, for obvious reasons, but through others': Sally, Veidt, Jon, Dan, Moloch, and ending with Rorschach's impressions accompanied by a repeat of the murder sequence.
The main action of the chapter, as distinguished from the flashbacks, takes places entirely on Wed 16 Oct, --three days after Chapter 1.
Laurie's wearing her Dr. Manhattan earrings.
It's 2 or 12 Oct 1940--see 2:5:1.
Hollis' costume had the same crescent-moon belt buckle as Dan's.
Transition: Camera taking photo seen in previous panel. Camera's flash echoes previous panel: "IT JUST KEEPS ON GETTING BRIGHTER ALL THE TIME."
The word balloons vary according to time period. For the thirties and forties (this flashback and 4:3:1 ff.), they are cumulus clouds. For the 50's and 60s they're smoothly round. For the 70's and 80s they're slightly polygonal. (WTDt, DS)
The flashbacks in Chapter 2, as with flashbacks in all the "character" chapters, are chronologically ordered.
I believe that the small white object flying away from Sally from the force of the blow is her left earring.
MOTHER, THIS IS VILE!
Transition: Echoes previous panel: "FOR GOD'S SAKE, COVER YOURSELF." Comic-book fantasy ("TREAT ME ROUGH, SUGAR") contrasts with bloody realism of previous panel.
In the comic, Sally is dallying with a travelling salesman ("ACME BRUSH CO.").
One of Gibbon's excellent face-panels. Echoes the panel above it, 2:8:1.
THINGS ARE TOUGH ALL OVER, CUPCAKE, AN IT RAINS ON THE JUST AN' THE UNJUST ALIKE...
From the Sermon on the Mount: "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."--Matthew 5:45. In which Jesus explains why you should love your enemy. Fits well with the evil-goes-unpunished theme of Watchmen, as well as the other religious excerpts at the funeral.
Transition: Setting up the second flashback, Adrian in the rain echoes previous panel: "IT RAINS ON THE JUST AN' THE UNJUST ALIKE," while raising the question of Adrian's own moral standing. But actually it isn't raining on Adrian; he's got an umbrella, and an employee to hold it for him.
Moloch and his roses are visible in the lower right. An aircar is tethered in the background.
I'M PLEASED TO SEE SO MANY OF YOU HERE. VERY PLEASED.
Transition: Echoes previous panel: "O LORD, WHO FOR OUR SINS ART JUSTLY DISPLEASED." Also, young Veidt echoes older Veidt.
Veidt's set against a dramatic black background. He's wearing a domino mask, apparently using spirit gum as Mason did (2:end:7).
O LORD...DELIVER US NOT INTO THE BITTER PANGS OF ETERNAL DEATH.
Transition: echoes previous panel: "SOMEBODY HAS TO SAVE THE WORLD..." Also, old Veidt echoes younger Veidt; priest stands in Nelson's position.
The priest seems to have some sort of book lamp in his bible, but it's not apparent in any other panel (e.g, 9:1:1).
Transition: Physically unchanged Jon, in same position as previous panel. Fireworks in place of Moloch's roses.
Echoes 12:14:3: "VEIDT? DON'T..." in which Jon is again to slow to act.
Transition: Jon's position, posture, and expression echoes previous panel. Coffin in position of dead woman.
...WHO SHALL CHANGE OUR VILE BODY
Transition: Echoes previous panel: "LET'S REALLY PUT THESE JOKERS THROUGH SOME CHANGES."
Transition: Dan is in same position; a clenched fist becomes a fist clenching Blake's badge; priest in Blake's position from previous panel.
The coffin is lowered.
Rorschach leaping from the fridge.
No motion lines: Instead, motion is indicated by posture, spilling milk, beams from the fridge light.
This is the quintessential Rorschach moment, dramatic and absurd. The drama is immediate: We're as surprised as Moloch by Rorschach's ambush. But we soon wonder at Rorschach, who changes into costume, races back from the funeral, removes the contents of and hides in the fridge, all to surprise a feeble old man.
Rorshach is standing on Moloch's toes.
Blake's holding his mask in his left hand. (Cf. 2:21:7, "HAD HIS MASK OFF.")
Blake's booze spills onto the bed; it continues to spill in succeeding panels.
In clutching the statue, which he leaves on its side, Blake has partially reclosed the top bureau drawer.
Transition: Rorschach in Moloch's face echoes Blake in Moloch's face from previous panel. More face and hands.
Transition: Red roses echo blood-red previous panel.
Rorschach has this rose in his pocket when he's captured 5 days later. (Cf. Chapter 6 endmatter, police report).
"And I'm up while the dawn is breaking, even though my heart is aching. I should be drinking a toast to absent friends instead of these comedians."
from "The Comedians," by Elvis Costello. Another stanza: "I've looked into these eyes upon reflection / They've seen the face of love, they've seen a few / What kind of love is this upon inspection / You'll be the last to know who's fooling who."
Chapter 3: The Judge of All the Earth
Chapter 3 is a plot chapter, leading to Jon's self-exile, a step in Veidt's scheme.
I SAW THAT HELL-BOUND SHIP'S BLACK SAILS AGAINST THE YELLOW INDIES SKY
Echoes black and yellow "Fallout Shelter" sign.
AND KNEW AGAIN THE STENCH OF POWDER, AND MEN'S BRAINS, AND WAR.
Echoes Bernard: WE OUGHTTA NUKE RUSSIA
AND LET GOD SORT IT OUT.
Foreshadows reference to God in the chapter title.
The camera zooms out from the sign on this page.
I SEE THE SIGNS,
Echoes "Fallout Shelter" sign.
READ THE HEADLINES,
Punningly echoes Black Freighter comic: THE HEADS NAILED TO ITS PROW...LIPLESSLY MOUTHING, "NO USE! ALL'S LOST!"
LOOK THINGS INNA FACE, Y'KNOW?
Another of many "seeing the true face" references.
YET STILL THE FREIGHTER'S HIDEOUS CREW CALLED OUT, "MORE BLOOD! MORE BLOOD!"
Echoes Bernard: WE OUGHTTA NUKE 'EM TILL THEY GLOW!
The BF's author is Max Shea, the missing writer pictured on Rorschach's copy of the New Frontiersman. Bernie's cigarrete smoke drifts through the lower left.
ALMIGHTY GOD, HIS MERCY AND HIS JUDGMENT.
Echoes Bernard: THAT'S JUST MY OPINION, and chapter title: THE JUDGE OF ALL THE EARTH.
The city employee has finished attaching the sign and loads his tool box into his truck. He's got lots of signs. Bernard has gloves in his pockets.. Bernie has a kneepatch on his jeans.
INNA FINAL ANALYSIS.
Echoes BF: AMONGST DEAD MEN AND THE PIECES OF DEAD MEN--another in a series of grim puns, since the men have indeed been subjected to the final analysis ("analyze"="take to pieces").
The city employee is in the foreground.
I ABSORB INFORMATION!
Echoes BF: BOSUN RIDLEY LAY NEARBY. BIRDS WERE EATING HIS THOUGHTS AND MEMORIES. (a nice line)
The city employee drives a away, making a splash.
The camera zooms in towards the page of the comic in panels 1 through 6.
THE MORE DISASTERS HAPPEN, THE MORE PAPERS I SELL. EXPLAIN THAT!
Echoes BF: IN HELL, AT LEAST THE GULLS ARE CONTENTED.
The disasters are going to catch up with poor Bernard.
SEE, EVERYTHING'S CONNECTED.
In Watchmen, at least.
A NEWSVENDOR UNNERSTANDS THAT.
Another character claims special insight into reality.
HE DON'T RETREAT FROM REALITY.
Echoes BF: I BEGGED THAT THEY SHOULD TAKE MY EYES
UNABLE TO BEAR MY CIRCUMSTANCES.
Echoes Bernard: HE CAN TAKE IT!
HE'S A SURVIVOR.
Echoes the close-up of a survivor. Survivor has not only the positive meaning of enduring, and but more melancholy association of losing others who don't survive.
NOVA EXPRESS IS HOLDIN' ITS FRONT PAGE
Till after the Benny Anger show, to preserve the surprise of the accusations against Jon.
A CATASTROPHE!...BUT I COPED!
Echoes BF: MY MISFORTUNES WERE SMALL
A clue: The signman's shadow looms, just as Rorschach's did, 1:5:2.
NEWSVENDORS ALWAYS COPE! THEY'RE INDESTRUCTIBLE! THEY THRIVE ON DISASTER!
Grimly ironic foreshadowing.
I KNEW THAT LIFE HAD NO WORSE NEWS TO OFFER ME.
Echoes Rorschach's sign, next panel: THE END IS NIGH.
NEWS, echoing "newsvendor".
IS IT HERE YET?
Rorschach means his paper, but the panel suggests alternatives: the "end", or Utopia (from the theater marquee in background).
As when he's in costume, Rorschach's dialogue is monotone--no boldface.
Rorschach's hair looks dramatic because the sun's right behind him.
YOU WON'T FORGET?
Echoes BF: I HAD A SUDDEN MEMORY
I COULD NOT LOVE HER AS SHE HAD LOVED ME.
Transition to Jon's romantic difficulties. Laurie's face in Jon's hands echoes previous panel, figurehead's face in mariner's hands.
A strand of hair obscures Laurie's right eye. She's wearing her Doc Manhattan earrings.
This whole scene leading to Jon and Laurie's split is quite clever and original.
I SAID, "JON, YOU KNOW HOW EVERY DAMN THING IN THIS WORLD FITS TOGETHER EXCEPT PEOPLE!"
Transition: Echoes Jon's reconstruction of the beaker.
Indeed, the novel traces Jon's path to becoming interested in how people fit together.
Joey is ogling Laurie.
Laurie has removed her Dr. Manhattan earrings.
IT'S SUCH A RELIEF JUST TO TALK TO SOMEBODY.
Transition: Echoes Laurie's arrival to cry on Dan's shoulder.
Dan is wiping his glasses. He has a couple of umbrellas by the door--why didn't he bring one to the funeral?
I'LL SPLASH OUT ON SOME OVERNIGHT ACCOMMODATION
Echoes hot water splashing into the mug.
Laurie's reflected off the kettle, a Veidt product.
I JUST WISH YOU'D DROP IN MORE OFTEN.
Echoes sugar cube dropping into the coffee.
Jon teleports not only himself but also the little blue thing he hasn't put on yet--it leaves a little bubble.
There's the small blue thingy to the left of Jon. The receptionist knocks over her drink. The room is illuminated by the flash of Jon's arrival--note the shadows.
HA! I KNEW IT!
Transition: Echoes previous panel: THE WHOLE WORLD WILL KNOW SOON ENOUGH.
Contrasts with BF: THE FREIGHTER'S MURDEROUS ONSLAUGHT HAD SURPRISED US.
AND IN THE TERRIBLE SILENCE I UNDERSTOOD THE TRUE BREADTH OF THE WORD "ISOLATION."
Echoes Bernard: ALL ALONE. INNA FINAL ANALYSIS.
Transition: Echoes next panel, WALKIN' ON... WALKIN' ON THE MOOOOOOOON... (which foreshadows trip to Mars). Also, Fallout Shelter sign echoes next panel's quarantine sign.
GONE? WHAT DO YOU MEAN, HE'S GONE?
Transition: Echoes previous panel, BF: WHO WOULD CARE FOR THEM, NOW I WAS GONE?
THE LATEST ANALYSIS IS THROUGH.
Transition: Echoes previous panel, INNA FINAL ANALYSIS, while inviting comparisons between the relative worth of the General's analyses and Bernard's.
Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
Genesis 18:25. Abraham, pleading with God to spare Sodom for the sake of fifty righteous. (Sodom gets the ax.)
Chapter 4: Watchmaker
Chapter 4 is a character chapter, focusing on Jon. It also serves to give most of the rest of the backstory not provided by the Under the Hood excerpts.
IT'S ALREADY LYING THERE, TWELVE SECONDS INTO THE FUTURE.
Jon's nonlinear conception of time is a favorite idea of Moore's; he uses it again in From Hell. Given Jon's Godlike attributes, it's interesting that theologians sometimes use similar ideas in describing God's conception of time. For example, in Chapter 3 of Beyond Personality (Book IV in Mere Christianity), "Beyond Time", C.S. Lewis says, "God, I believe, does not live in a Time-series at all. His life is not dribbled out moment by moment like ours: with Him it is, so to speak, still 1920 and already 1960" (p. 132). Sound familiar? Lewis uses this idea to resolve various theological difficulties, including reconciling God's knowledge of the future with human free will, which is espcially interesting considering Jon's remarks in 4:16:2 and 9:5:3 ff. (Incidentally, Moore's friend Neil Gaiman wrote the introduction to the comics version of Lewis' Screwtape Letters.) Lewis claims the idea stems from various prominent church fathers, and indeed it appears in St. Augustine's Confessions, Book XI: "Thy years neither come nor go; whereas ours both come and go, that they all may come. Thy years stand together, because they do stand; nor are departing thrust out by coming years, for they pass not away; but ours shall all be, when they shall no more be. Thy years are one day; and Thy day is not daily, but Today, seeing Thy Today gives not place unto tomorrow, for neither doth it replace yesterday. Thy Today is Eternity." The Prophets on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" are another example.
PROFESSOR GLASS IS SHAKING MY HAND
This is Milton Glass, author of the endmatter to this chapter, "Dr. Manhattan: Super-Powers and the Superpowers"; his name is vaguely connected with the watchfulness motif.
Dr. Glass has a slide-rule in his pocket. He uses little slips of paper to mark pages of interest in his books.
The caption on the board reads "At play amidst the Strangeness and Charm," referring to two varieties of quark. In our world, though, quark theory wasn't developed until a few years after 1959.
OTHER PEOPLE SEEM TO MAKE ALL MY MOVES FOR ME.
This passivity is a necessary element in Jon's character; it explains why he is willing to be a government tool for so long.
Janey's playing footsie with Jon.
Face and hands. Echoes 5:4:5.
The symbol represents a hydrogen atom, but it also suggests the "third eye" dot worn by Hindu women, another nod to the watchfulness motif.
Janey is wearing her Dr. Manhattan earrings. Laurie is wearing her S-shaped Silk Spectre earrings.
Why "Bubastis"? (1) "Bubastis" was the name of one of the ancient Egyptian cities, tieing into Veidt's Egyptian interests. (2) "Bu" means "city of," hence "Bubastis" means "City of Bast." Bast, as Sandman readers know, was/is the Egyptian cat goddess (see appendices), tieing into Bubastis' catness.
SHE'S A GENETICALLY ALTERED LYNX.
Why a lynx? (1) Lynxes are particularly known for their keen sight, tieing into the watchfulness motif. Thus, the first scientific/learned society, in 17th century Italy, was the Accademia dei Lincei: the Academy of Lynxes. (Landes, p. 179)
(2) "Lynx" is a pun for "links" (think of the web-browser), which Watchmen is full of. Cf. 5:12:9 and 5:13:1.
I HADN'T REALIZED THAT EUGENICS WAS SO ADVANCED NOW...
Laurie means to say genetic engineering, not eugenics, which refers to selective breeding, especially of humans.
Bubastis' antennae-thingies form a V for Veidt.
Laurie has set her purse on the floor while she pets Bubastis. The polished floor gives another reflection..
Laurie's wearing her Dr. Manhattan earrings.
It looks like Laurie's wearing her Dr. Manhattan earrings. If so, she wears them in every panel between the time Janey and Jon break up and she and Jon break up; they even replace her S-earrings when, as here, she's "in uniform." But she doesn't throw out the S-earrings--see 4:23:4.
A CHILD IS WEEPING FOR ITS LOST BALLOONS...THE FAT MAN IS ALREADY LUMBERING
The child and mother are highlighted. Why? The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was called Little Boy. The bomb dropped on Nagasaki was Fat Man.
The panel illustration is the same as 4:6:4, except for the coloring.
"The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking...The solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."
Dr. Manhattan: Super-Powers and the Superpowers
The cover has a da Vinciesque drawing of Jon inscribed in a circle in his own hydrogen-atom symbol (note the dots at center and top).
We have here the introduction to a full-length book.
This material is actually crucial to the novel--without it, any case for Veidt is completely undercut:
Veidt's reasoning is that, unless somebody saves the world, nuclear armageddon is inevitable. Since anything is better than than the end of the world, Veidt feels justified in killing 3m people to prevent it.
But as the main action of Watchmen begins, it is far from obvious that nuclear war is imminent. Indeed, the Soviets, faced with America's Dr. Manhattan, have repeatedly backed down.
It is only after Dr. Manhattan leaves Earth that the world goes to the brink of war, and it is Veidt who engineers Dr. Manhattan's departure. So it looks like Veidt's murderous practical joke is the solution to a problem he himself causes.
But if we buy Prof. Glass' analysis, Dr. Manhattan, far from detering the Soviets from launching nuclear war, will push them to it: "If threatened with eventual domination, would the Soviets pursue this unequestionably suicidal course? Yes." (p. III) Some such ideas must lie behind Veidt's own analysis.
In the real world, when threatened with eventual domination the Soviets went out with a whimper rather than a bang, so Prof. Glass' thesis looks pretty shaky. Veidt is like the marooned seaman, commiting atrocities to prevent a nonexistent bigger atrocity.
Chapter 5: Fearful Symmetry
A plot chapter: Veidt stages his assassination attempt and gets Rorschach captured. Special chapter theme: symmetry--the chapter itself is symmetrical.
Transition: This chapter's opening, Rorschach in a rain shower stepping through a puddle in a seedy neighborhood, contrasts with the previous chapter's close: Jon on his crystal palace watching a meteor shower.
WAITING FOR A FLASH OF ENLIGHTENMENT IN ALL THIS BLOOD AND THUNDER.
Another special motif of Chapter 5 is enlightenment (which punningly ties into the Chapter epigram: "burning bright").
WE NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING
Transition: echoes previous panel ("WAITING FOR A FLASH OF ENLIGHTENMENT"), ties into enlightenment motif, as does the Buddha poster.
The scene on this page corresponds to page 22, another Fine and Bourquin page. It doesn't really advance the plot, but it's needed for the symmetry.
One of the little girls was wearing Snoopy sandles.
THAT TAKES A WHOLE DIFFERENT KIND OF INSPIRATION.
Transition: the Pyramid deliveries triangle symbol echoes the poster triangle in the previous panel.
This page, the Bernards and Chess, parallels page 21, the Bernards and Joey.
EVERYTHING I LOVED, EVERYTHING I LIVED FOR
Transition: echoes previous panel: "ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING."
THEY SAID I CAN'T LIVE THERE ANYMORE, NOW THAT JON'S GONE.
Transition: echoes previous panel: "MY HOME WAS THERE. NOTHING WOULD TAKE IT FROM ME." Plus Dan eating chicken wing echoes mariner eating gull, and Laurie's line: ""...WE'RE TAKING YOUR HOME AND MONEY. CHEW ON THAT.""
We see much of the page in the mirror behind the stall, tieing into symmetry/reflection theme. Dan's got some food on his chin...
...Dan wipes his chin.
Laurie's wearing simple button earrings, not her Dr. Manhattan pair.
WE'RE BOTH LEFTOVERS.
Transition: Dan and Laurie's leftovers echo Rorschach's piled up dirty dishes.
THERE WERE PURPLE BITE MARKS ON HER FAT WHITE NECK. FRESH ONES.
On the left; when next we meet Mrs. Shairp, she has another fresh set, on the right (7:11:9); and in our last encounter she's got 'em on the left again (10:6:4)
WE SEE EVERY DAMNED CONNECTION. EVERY DAMNED LINK
But Bernard takes no heed of Rorschach checking his garbage can mail drop.
Transition: echoes Veidt's cuff links in next panel.
Blood substitutes for motion lines.
The faked assassination attempt is the novel's biggest plot hole:
(1) Veidt says he does it to throw Rorschach off the scent (11:26:1). But Veidt knows he's sending Rorschach to prison, so why bother?
(2) Veidt fools people into thinking the assassin committed suicide. But no one would buy that: who ever heard of a hitman--"a hired killer" (10:10:4)--killing himself to avoid capture?
(3) The hitman is either the world's stupidest (if, hired to kill Ozymandias and his secretary, he shoots the secretary first!) or most incompetent (if, trying to shoot Ozymandias, he misses at point blank range).
The scene makes no sense until you realize it's meant not to fool the characters, but the reader. Without this episode, Veidt sticks out as the most likely villain: he's the only major character without a clear role as the novel nears its end (a line of reasoning open to the reader but not to the characters)
MY ENEMIES' HIDEOUS BANNER FLAPPING DISMALLY IN MY DREAMS
Transition: echoes previous panel: "JUST TELL THEM I DON'T HAVE ANY ENEMIES."
YOU DON'T KNOW HOW GRATEFUL I AM FOR THIS.
Transition: echoes previous panel: "SOMETIMES, THE NIGHT IS GENEROUS TO ME."
Dan and Laurie are mostly seen in the mirror on this page; more of the chapter's emphasis on reflections/symmetry.
This page reflects in characters and panel structure and sometimes in the characters' posture, page 10, Dan and Laurie's lunch where he invites her to stay with him.
HELL AND DAMNATION
Transition: echoes next panel: "KNOW THIS: HADES IS WET. HADES IS LONELY."
Also echoes the scene's opening panel: "THIS IS LIKE HEAVEN."
Dan has set his glasses on Under the Hood, his clothes at the foot of the bed.
The seaman has plunged the splinter into the shark's right eye: more of the obscured vision motif.
THIS GODDAMN PAIN IN THE BUTT RAIN!
Transition: echoes previous panel: "CURSING IN THE BITTER STINGING SPRAY."
Young Bernie's cigarette smoke is visible left.
I DRIFTED ON, MASTLESS INTO THE DAWN
Playing off Joey.
The advertisement on the back of the Hustler reads "For Smokers With Balls."
I GUESS NONE O' THESE MESSIAHS AND ILLUMINATED TYPES REALLY AMOUNTED TO A WHOLE HILL OF BEANS.
Transition: Echoes previous panel: "BRINGING LIGHT TO THE WORLD." MY ASS. And Bourquin hanging up Buddha poster echoes Bernie hanging GWAR poster; Fine looking at Grateful Dead poster echoes Joey looking at Hustler. Both posters are from the crime scene on page 7 (5:7:1 and 5:7:6).
The quote also ties into chapter's enlightenment motif.
The phone has a little sound illustration, which seems out of keeping for the novel.
IT'S LIKE THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE AIR...
Like the Gunga Diner elephant blimp visible through the window.
Echoes the marooned seaman's meal, 5:21:7.
LET'S GO IGNORE SOME RED LIGHTS.
Transition: echoes the red light reflected from the Rumrunner sign in the next panel (and ties into enlightenment motif). And the skull-and-crossbones poster echoes the next panel's reflected Rumrunner logo.
Bourquin pulls his coat on., Fine lights a cigarette.
The Rumrunner light blinks off this panel, concealing from us and Rorschach the exit wound (cf. 5:25:2).
AAAA! JESUS GOD, MY EYES! HELP ME, MAN. I CAN'T SEE...
More of the obscured vision motif.
Rorschach reaches for his grappling gun. The first guy has dropped his gun to rub his eyes. Gibbons has neglected to draw the ear support for the second guy's glasses.
BOY, HE STINKS. IS THAT AFTER SHAVE?
No, it's Nostalgia cologne: the bottle Rorschach swiped from Dan (3:24:8) broke in the fall.
"Tyger, Tyger burning bright, / In the forests of the night, / What immortal hand or eye / Could fram thy fearful symmetry?"
The quotation is from "The Tyger", by the Comedian's namesake William Blake (1757-1827), Song 42 in his Songs of Experience (1792). It forms a pair with "The Lamb", Song 8 in his Songs of Innocence (1789).
The LambThe chapter epigram is taken from the first and not the final stanza. The fifth stanza is reminiscent of 4:28:5.
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, wooly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and he is mild;
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Chapter 6: The Abyss Gazes Also
Chapter 6 is a character chapter, focussing on Rorschach's character but leading to a change in Dr. Long's.
The blots shown in this chapter are not the actual Rorschach blots, of which there are just ten, and which are protected under copyright--so that subjects come to them fresh. Dr. Long's use of the cards is not too faithful to the "correct" procedure detailed in William Poundstone's Big Secrets, which also contains outlines of the actual blots.
Rorschach sticks the lighted cigarette into the bully's eye--another element in obscured vision motif (using his left hand--he's left handed). Cigarette smoke stands in for motion lines.
A clue: with his bare left hand, Rorschach notices that the furnace is warm.
There's the kerosene Rorschach uses in 6:25:3.
A clue: charred fragment of girl's panties. Rorschach's right hand also holds his left glove.
A clue: The cleaver gleams--it's been recently cleaned.
A clue: fresh marks on the cutting block.
Rorshach has set the saw to the side of the block.
STOOD IN STREET. WATCHED IT BURN.
Rorshach's speech, from here to 6:26:7, is just terrific writing. When Moore goes for the bleachers he sometimes comes up short, as with Jon's speech at the end of Chapter 9, but here he gets a grand slam.
BORN FROM OBLIVION; BEAR CHILDREN, HELLBOUND AS OURSELVES; GO INTO OBLIVION.
Contradictory--if we end in oblivion, at least we miss Hell. But the reference to Hell echoes the flames.
The clock's swinging pendulum marks the moment's passage.
Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster,
and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
--Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
The chapter epigraphs fall into two categories: some exhibit a neat but coincidental verbal relation to the chapter at hand; while others actually tells us something about the themes of the chapter. This profound Nietzsche epigraph certainly falls into the latter category; it might serve as an epigraph for the novel as a whole.
There is some pleasant fearful symmetry at work in this chapter: Rorschach's telling of how he looked into the abyss becomes Dr. Long's own glimpse of the abyss, and like Rorschach, Long can't look away.
In the episode "The Bookie and the Kooky Cookie" from Season 2 of "NYPD Blue," Sipowicz tells a story similar to the Roche kidnapping to explain his loss of faith; I presume the teleplay was inspired by this chapter of Watchmen--unless Moore himself got the idea from an earlier source (as he got the saw-and-handcuffs bit from the movie Mad Max). Clearly the story has something in it which prompts people to a perception that the universe has no moral order. It's not clear why though: compared with the horrendous deed of killing a child, what you do with the body afterwards is of comparatively little moral consequence.
Chapter 7: A Brother to Dragons
The novel generally alternates plot and character chapters, but since 12 is an even number and since Moore doesn't want to end with a character chapter he has a problem, finessed with Chapter 7, which is combination plot/character, focussing on Dan though without flashbacks. Chapter 6 is a hard act to follow, but Moore switches gears and brings forth another winner.
Motion lines indicate that Laurie is wiping the dust off her forefinger.
The coloring for the panel is correct--Laurie looks blanched because she's standing in the owlship's lights.
Reading from top to bottom, left to right, the buttons are: Air-to-air missiles (cf. 7:6:7), unknown, unknown, flamethrower, obscured, and lights.
Dan is replenishing his sugar cube supply, depleted by Rorschach.
I LEFT EVERYTHING SWITCHED ON WHEN I WENT OUT TO THE STORE.
To buy sugar for Laurie.
One of the children is picking his nose.
DID I PUT ENOUGH SUGAR IN THE COFFEE? I WENT OUT TO THE STORE SPECIALLY...
Hence the flame-thrower accident. Dan is tinkering around in his owlship when he suddenly remembers the great Bitter Coffee Fiasco of 3:10:4. In his haste to shield Laurie from a repetition of this ugly incident, Dan sets off for the grocery store and forgets to shut off the owlship.
DURING HIROSHIMA WEEK, I READ AN ARTICLE IN TIME MAGAZINE
This is the issue Jon and Laurie buy, 4:24:7, The Annotated Watchmen mistakenly places Hiroshima week 2 months before Watchmen's main action: actually it was 14 months prior.
KIDS' BODIES, SKIN BURNED BLACK.
"My skin is black upon me..."
Dan has set his steaming coffee on the table, where it remains undrunk. He reaches for his fogged-up glasses with his left hand, while he fishes a handkerchief out of his pocket with his right hand. Nova Express' "Spirit of '77" issue is on the table.
NOT TO HIS FACE
Echoing Shea's face on the T.V.
NO, BUT SERIOUSLY, YOU LOOK TERRIFIC WITHOUT GLASSES
Another instance of insensitivity to us of the four-eyed community.
Laurie has set her coffee on the floor, where it remains undrunk.
Dan sets his glasses on the floor, beside Laurie's coffee mug, getting them into position for their big moment in 7:15:9.
Dan's broken glasses fall.
Unlike his real goggles, (e.g., 7:25:3), Dan's dream goggles have no straps to hold them on. This omission is deliberate, not a one-panel mistake, since the straps are also missing in panels 10, 12, and 13.
"...my bones are burned with heat."
IT'S ONLY A QUARTER AFTER THREE... / YES. I KNOW.
By his goggles' time-readout, lower right (it's 3:16 a.m., to be precise).
Like Ginger Rogers, Laurie works in high heels.
BUT TRY NOT TO TOUCH ANY BUTTONS.
Remembering Laurie's mishap. But the warning goes unheeded, 7:26:3.
The boy is wearing Veidt-brand pajamas.
Silhouetted against the moon, Dan waves to the rescuees; the little boy (whom Laurie appears to have served a cup of coffee), standing next to his mother, waves back.
Dan presses the fogscreens button (cf. 7:6:9).
Archie's smoke partly obscures the moon, forming a crescent...
...which is echoed by Dan's crescent-moon belt buckle (being removed by Laurie).
Dan turns off the lights (as Laurie did mistakenly in 7:2:4). Cf. the view through the owlship windows/eyes in 7:27:3 and 7:27:28.
Dan hits the flamethrower button.
I am a brother to dragons,
and a companion to owls.
My skin is black upon me,
and my bones are burned with heat.
Job 30:29-30. Job, complaiing.
"...visiting a sick acquaintance at a hospital in Maine on behalf of a mutual friend..." (p. 2)
Dan is visiting Byron Lewis, the Mothman, who resides "in an asylum up in Maine" (1:19:5), on behalf of Hollis.
1 RAMP____ __________
3 MISSILES FLAME LIGHTS
Gibbons is not consistent, I think, in how he draws the owlship control panel. For example, in 7:27:7, the "sun" button, which controls the interior lights, is located diagonally from the "double-circle" button. But in 8:15:7, these two buttons are located side-by-side.
Chapter 8: Old Ghosts
Chapter 8 is a plot chapter, detailing the rescue of Rorschach and murder of Hollis.
The Hollis and Sally panels on pages 1 and 2 mirror each other.
THIS IS INSANITY.
Transition: echoes previous panel: "FACED WITH HORRORS BOTH INTOLERABLE AND UNAVOIDABLE, I CHOSE MADNESS."
I'LL LOAD THOSE HOVER BIKES AFTER THIS CIGARETTE, OKAY?
The bikes are at lower left. They come in handy, as it turns out.
BETWEEN YOU AND IT THERE'S ONE CRUMMY LOCK.
Transition: echoes next page`s installation of Dan's new lock: "THIS BABY'LL HOLD OFF AN ARMY."
Dan's new lock gleams.
THIS HAS TO BE PASTED UP, PRINTED AND OUT BY THIS AFTERNOON.
Transition: echoes previous panel: "SUDDENLY, WE HAVE A DEADLINE."
Godfrey holds a paste brush. On the board is a paste bowl, a ruler, scissors, and the front page, tacked.
YOU'RE BLOCKING MY LIGHT.
There's his shadow on the sketchboard.
In the background of these six panels the ill-fated Pyramid ship can be seen approaching the island.
GOD KNOWS WHAT THESE PEOPLE HAVE INSTEAD OF BRAINS...
Echoes Hollis' removal of the pumpkin's innards. The speaker is Prof. Glass.
The knife rests behind the pumpkin.
"ATTEMPTING TO GRAFT AN ACCEPTABLE FACE ONTO GLORIFIED KLAN-STYLE BRUTALITY."
Echoes Hollis carving his jack-o'-lantern's face.
Hollis has added to the pumpkin guts in the bowl at panel right.
Hollis sticks the knife in the pumpkin guts with his right hand while removing the pumpkin's eye.
PRISON SPOKESMEN SAY THEY'RE "LOOKING INTO THE JAWS OF HELL".
Echoes lit Jack-o'-lantern.
A crowd not previously visible can be seen through the window.
SHOULD BE HERE ANY MINUTE, YOU WANNA WAIT.
Transition: echoes preprevious panel: "CAN HARDLY WAIT TILL IT'S DARK."
To the left, Joey approaches.
The insulation of the arc welder's cord is badly frayed; that's why Mike fries.
Unfortunately the high entertainment value of this scene is not coupled with dramatic plausibility. Big Figure is a fool to rely on two unarmed men to overpower Rorschach, who must have surmounted greater odds many times in his career.
As in her Chapter 3 skirmish, Laurie goes for the groin.
OUR DAMNATION: IT OBSESSED THE SODDEN DEAD,
Transition: echoes previous panel: "I'LL BE DAMNED." Ties into chapter's "ghosts" theme.
A blood splotch at the base of the murder weapon covers the space between the two words, revealing the inscription to be a wicked pun: "ingratitude".
"As we see it..." political cartoon, page 3 (again the watchfulness motif)
This cartoon is actually philsophically complex: Moore mocking Feinberg mocking.
Dough Roth tears off the hero's mask with his left hand; his right hand holds the key to the lock which keeps the hero's hands tied behind his back. Roth is portrayed as effeminate: he's carrying a Nova Express purse, with flowers in it, and wearing high heels. He has something by Marx in the purse. Media Hot Air balloons rise behind him.
The hero is dressed in the flag, so to speak.
A black woman offers the hero drugs ("Reefers!" and "KT-28s!", the latter of which are apparently pills) and, implicitly, sex. She has a syringe.
The Big Businessman is a stereotype Jew. Note the Star of David, dollar-sign glasses, and bejeweled fingers.
The Communist wears a Central Committee of the Communist Party hat and brandishes a bomb with the hammer-and-sickled logo.
The Criminal is a sterotype Italian. He's missing most of his teeth and is wearing a carnation. His tie bears a Black Hand, which I believe is a symbol for a Mafia-type group.
The Juvenile Delinquent knot-top is aiming a slingshot. He's got pirate comics in his pockets and skulls on his clothes.
Lady Liberty is weeping.
The hero's wife and children watch the Final Round from the front row. The girl has a teddy bear.
A NYPD cop shakes his fist.
John Q. Public is asleep, holding a Keene Act banner.
F., the cartoon's author, is Feinberg (see 10:24:5), presumably Walt Feinberg, who collaborated with Max Shea on later issues of The Black Freighter, including "Marooned." Feinberg sounds like a Jewish name--odd, considering the cartoon's antisemitism.
Chapter 9: The Darkness of Mere Being
Chapter 9 is a character chapter, focussing on Laurie and leading to the revelation of her true father.
Each flashback in this chapter ends with spilling liquids, echoed by a flashforward of the doomed Nostalgia bottle.
Laurie is wearing bunny slippers. A splash of water from the broken orb forms a trademark obscured eye on the right slipper.
Spilling liquid, obscured eye.
Laurie's shock is odd; surely after living with Jon for 20 years, instant water is a very minor miracle.
JUST A CLUB SODA FOR MR. LEWIS.
Byron's an alcoholic--Chapter 3 endmatter, p. 11. He's accompanied by an escort from the asylum.
WHAT TIME IS IT?
The time motif.
Lewis fallen drink: spilled liquid.
The automobile--presumably Veidt's--bears the Veidt logo, indicating that Veidt has already launched his business empire, unless it's just a vanity inscription. As always, there's a full moon.
Sally's tears: spilled liquid.
Laurie's drink in Blake's face: spilled liquid. A drop falls on Blake's badge, obscuring the eye of course.
The smiley face on Mars is real.
COME...DRY YOUR EYES, FOR YOU ARE LIFE, RARER THAN A QUARK AND UNPREDICTABLE BEYOND THE DREAMS OF HEISENBERG
Jon's speech at the end of this chapter is not Moore's finest hour.
Chapter 10: Two Riders Were Approaching...
Chapter 10 is a plot chapter, showing Dan and Rorshach as they follow the path of the "mask killer" to Veidt's door.
Rorschach has removed the bandage from his forehead, revealing a partially healed scar. Cf. his mug shot, chapter 6 endmatter.
Like the ripples in the water at the bottom of the panel.
OBLIVION GALLOPS CLOSER
Ties into chapter epigram, "two riders were approaching."
DELIVERED INTO THE HANDS OF A HIGHER JUDGMENT.
Echoes the postman delivering the Rorschach's journal (ultimately to be judged by Seymour).
The watch seller is yelling at the postman. Cf. 6:27:1: apparently, the vendor habitually harasses black passersby.
"Outside in the distance a wild cat did growl, two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl."
--Bob Dylan, "All Along the Watchtower"
Chapter 11: Look on My Works, Ye Mighty...
Chapter 11 is a character chapter, focussing on Veidt and revealing the nature of his plot.
Veidt's name for his recorded notes ties into the watchfulness motif.
The all white panel, here representing the snow covering the bubble's surface, is repeated at the chapter's end, 11:28:13.
THE INSIGHT WASN'T MAJOR
Again the vision motif.
Nixon's on TV, backed by an American flag--probably delivering a public message to rally the country against the Soviets.
THERE IT IS, UP AHEAD.
Visible in 11:3:3.
WE ARE APPROACHING HEART OF DARKNESS.
Moore subtly discredits Veidt again: Veidt indeed bears some resemblance to Kurtz. --Also, recall 5:28:6. --And a final really tenous allusion: Moe Vernon's Ride of the Valkyries.
Rorschach lifts his mask.
The poisoned wine and four glasses are ready, lower right.
Veidt is carrying the wine bottle, and, presumably, somehow, the four glasses.
In all of the flashback panels up to 11:19:8 Veidt is shown only from the rear--we don't see his face. Then, 11:24:4 ff. has a repeat of the Blake murder panels, all of which are shown from Veidt's perspective, so that again we don't see his face--except for 11:26:2, a new panel where the villain is revealed.
PERHAPS I DECIDED TO BE INTELLIGENT, RATHER THAN OTHERWISE? PERHAPS WE ALL MAKE SUCH DECISIONS, THOUGH THAT SEEMS A CALLOUS DOCTRINE.
Callous, because it implies that stupid people are stupid because they've chosen to be stupid.
Despite the caveat, Veidt does seem to believe one chooses one's personality. It's a fascinating idea.
Veidt has set his carefully untasted win on the pool's ledge, where it remains undrunk.
Joey tears the book; another reference to cutting knots.
THE ANCIENT WORLD'S GREATEST PUZZLE WAS THERE, A KNOT THAT COULDN'T BE UNTIED. ALEXANDER CUT IT IN TWO WITH HIS SWORD. LATERAL THINKING, YOU SEE.
What seems clever to Veidt seems shallow to me. It didn't take genius to cut the knot; everyone knew it could be cut. The puzzle was to unTIE it. An ominous episode for Veidt to adopt as his paradigm.
Gordion Knot: Gordius was a Phrygian peasant. An eagle landed on his ox-cart. Gordius was informed that this was an omen, indicating that he would become king. Lo and behold, Gordius did become king. Gordius dedicated his ox-cart to some god, and tied one part of the cart to another with a knot, prophesying that whoever untied the knot would rule the world.
Veidt's wine sits safely undrunk on the fountain's edge.
Veidt picks a rose.
NOBLE INTENTIONS HAD LED ME TO ATROCITY. THE RIGHTEOUS ANGER FUELING MY INGENIOUS, AWFUL SCHEME WAS BUT DELUSION
The connection of the comic-within-the-comic to Veidt's plot, in a nutshell.
Transition: From the upturned face of the servant and his departing murderer, to the upturned face of the moneylender and his departing murderer.
Transition: From mariner's perspective as he approaches ship to Rorschach's perspective as he appraoches Karnak.
The rose Veidt plucks in 11:12:5 rests on the table. Veidt watches Rorschach's approach in the reflective bowl.
Veidt smashes Dan's raygun.
This panel cracks me up: Young Ozymandias. Be sure to check out the friend to Veidt's right.
The metal guards around Veid'ts neck and forearms bear the zigzag pattern, a motif. The zigzags form Veidt's pet triangles, as well as V's. The center of the neck guard bears an eye: the watchfulness motif.
THE WORLD I'D TRIED TO SAVE WAS LOST BEYOND RECALL
Transition: echoes previous panel: "ALL OUR RICHNESS AND COLOR AND BEAUTY WOULD BE LOST..."
The watch vendor is unhappy to see the police: presumably he's selling stolen wares. He starts packing up his goods.
EACH STEP WAS SYNCHRONIZED.
Transition: echoes previous panel: "TALK ABOUT LOUSY TIMING!"
Veidt's head in front of the T.V.'s naked woman echoes Blake's head against the picture in the next panel.
RUSHING TO JOIN THE MASTODON
Echoing the Gunga Diner elephant blimp overhead.
"HE UNDERSTOOD THE PORTENTS, KNEW A DAZZLING TRANSFORMATION WAS AT HAND FOR MANKIND.
"THE BRUTAL WORLD HE'D RELISHED WOULD SIMPLY CEASE TO BE, ITS FIERCE AND BRAWLING DENIZENS RUSHING TO JOIN THE MASTODON IN OBSOLESCENCE...
The most important critical problem raised by Watchmen is how to interpret the events on the streetcorner immediately preceding the disaster. Do they, for instance, support or undermine Veidt's case?
My own interpretation is this. These final events go to show that people are complicated, and hence that, while Veidt may have, at great cost, resolved the immediate political crisis, his hopes for a dazzling transformation of mankind as a whole are wildly overoptimistic. It will take more than artificial aliens to put an end to racial tension or lovers' quarrels.
Veidt's solution to the unprecedented and world-threatening political crisis is literally inhuman. In contrast, the streetcorner scene shows people relating to each other as human beings. The different pairings illustrate typical, intimate human relationships: lovers, spouses, partners, siblings. The final pairing, the two Bernards, is not intimate; rather it illustrates at the same time the subtle connections (the coincidence of the same name) and obstinate barriers between people. In support of Veidt, the threat of the alien brings even these two together. (But Moore is not foolish enough to suppose that solidarity is the only possible response to fear, witness the knottop's and Mason.)
Fine, Dr. Long, Milo, Bernard, respond to the fight in a limited, human way--see what's going on, try to help. Dr. Long, though, is starting down the path Veidt and Rorschach have travelled, allowing a perception of general human misery to override his specific human obligations to his wife.
I've noticed on the Usenet the comment that Watchmen is clever but emotionally distancing. That is not my impression. Watchmen is certainly not sentimental, but I find scenes like the murder of Mason, or the sequence on page 28 of this chapter, quite moving.
Young Bernie has dropped his cigarette and stamps it out. Joey knocks Dr. Long's hat off. The patrons are leaving the Utopia--apparently the film is over. A customer is leaving the Gunga Diner, holding his takeout.
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: / Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair."
The quotation is from "Ozymandias," which is part of The Revolt of Islam (1817), by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822):
I met a traveller from an antique landInformation from Isaac Asimov's Familiar Poems, Annotated pp. 1-4: "Ozymandias" is the Greek name for Rameses II (r. 1279-1213 B.C.). The age of the great pyramids had ended a millennium before, but "the Egyptians also built large statues and colossal temples, and this aspect of their art reached its apex during the reign of Rameses II....None of these....remains intact; they exist today as colossal ruins." Nevertheless, Asimov notes, Egyptian art is a poor choice for illustrating "the evanescence of human accomplishments....It is certain that none of the achievements of the modern industrial world will surivive the civilization that built them as long as did the achievements of Egypt."
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert....Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
"Rorschach...seems to see the world in very black and white, Manichean terms. I personally belive that to be an intellectual limitation."
It's a limitation to see everything in black and white terms; but it's also a limitation to see nothing in black and white.
Chapter 12: A Stronger, Loving World
Chapter 12 is a plot chapter in which Veidt attempts, successfully, to keep Jon from upsetting his new utopia.
Like Fine's gun, which Laurie is eyeing.
A newspaper rests on Fine's chest. Cf. 12:5:1.
Laurie stoops to take Fine's gun.
We can see Bourquin over Jon's left shoulder. The police car's light is still on.
Laurie puts the gun in her bag; it'll come in handy later, 12:15:4.
TAKE CAT AWAY, VEIDT.
Transition: echoes prepreprevious panel: "TAKE IT AWAY."
NO ONE WILL KNOW. THOSE INVOLVED ARE ALL DEAD
Actually Veidt has been quite careless about concealing his tracks. He has neglected to kill the guy who hired the hitman, and who apparently told his story to the customers at Happy Harry's.
MY SERVANTS' DEATHS FROM EXPOSURE, AFTER DRUNKENLY OPENING MY VIVARIUM, PROVIDES ITS SILENT CAPSTONE.
The Annotated Watchmen puzzles over this "lie", but I think that's a misinterpretation. Veidt isn't lying to Dan and Rorschach, he's just telling them the lie he's going to use with other people to explains his servants' deaths.
VEIDT. OF COURSE.
Echoes previous panel: I SEE.
IT DISPLAYS REMARKABLE FORESIGHT, DON'T YOU THINK?
Veidt's "natural" foresight deprived Jon of his "unnatural" foresight.
Veidt has bloody hands, from catching the bullet. His chest is bloody also; his left hand bled onto it, 12:15:6.
For the remainder of the novel Veidt has blood on his hands (e.g., 12:18:4)--symbolism that would be difficult to achieve effectively in a text novel.
Veidt confronts a colossal Jon.
The quintessential Veidt moment--the self-made superman confronts the technologically spawned non-man. Unfortunately, to succeed in manipulating Jon, Veidt must himself become inhuman.
[12:20:1] IT IS AS RAMESES SAID:
"CANAAN IS DEVASTATED, ASHKELON IS FALEN, GEZER IS RUINED, YENOAM IS REDUCED TO NOTHING..."
[12:20:2] "...ISRAEL IS DESOLATE AND HER SEED IS NO MORE, AND PALESTINE HAS BECOME A WIDOW FOR EGYPT..."
[12:20:3] "ALL THE COUNTRIES ARE UNIFIED AND PACIFIED."
The quotation is taken from the "Merneptah stele", well-known among people who know about such things as the earliest known reference to "Israel". However, as the name suggests, Veidt is mistaken in his attribution; the stele dates from the reign and refers to the conquests, not of Ramses, but of his immediate successor, Merneptah (c. 1213 - c. 1204 B.C.).
MORALLY, YOU'RE IN CHECKMATE, LIKE BLAKE.
An apt analogy--all of their options are unacceptable.
Compromise--a draw--comes from stalemate, not checkmate. And indeed, Veidt makes no concessions--he even gets Jon to do his dirty work for him!
IN MY ORRERY.
"As this book may fall into the hands of persons who do not know what an orrery is, it is for their information I add this note, as the name gives no idea of the uses of the thing. The orrery has its name from the person who invented it. It is a machinery of clock-work representing the universe in miniature; and in which the revolution of the earth round itself and round the sun, the revolution of the moon round the earth, the revolution of the planets round the sun, their relative distances from the sun as the center of the whole system, their relative distances from each other, and their different magnitudes, are represented as they really exists in what we call the heavens."--Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, pp. 703-704n
Transition: Rorschach's mask echoes Laurie & Dan's shadow.
PEOPLE MUST BE TOLD.
Dissimulation would have served Rorschach well at this point; but, unlike Veidt, Rorshach shows no talent for manipulating Jon.
"IN THE END"? NOTHING ENDS, ADRIAN. NOTHING EVER ENDS.
True; but, oddly enough, nothing lasts forever, either.
IT NEVER ENDS. NEVER.
Transition: echoes prepreprevious panel: "NOTHING ENDS, ADRIAN. NOTHING EVER ENDS."
TONIGHT'S RETURN VISIT...
Echoes Sally's visitors.
The Christmas cards include an "Accord" card. There's a Santa-and-reindeer knickknack on the T.V. Sally holds the remote in her right hand.
NOBODY'S ALLOWED TO SAY BAD THINGS ABOUT OUR GOOD OL' BUDDIES THE RUSSIANS ANYMORE
Ominously, the Accord includes censorship.
Seymour removes the burger from its container.
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