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Monthly (Comic) Book Club - February - Watchmen13817

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Quote:
Originally Posted by xkonk
Malcolm Long's wife talking about him makes you wonder why Mal got the case. He doesn't sound like a guy who works with a lot of hardened criminals, or many criminals at all.


I think the answer to “why?” is at the very end of the issue on the note he clipped to the police file before he interviews Walter for the first time.

I’m on a similar page on this as @michaelekrupp, though I’m not sure I would label him as an up-and-comer but this is certainly an opportunity for him. He mentions that he thinks interviewing him could help him discover a new syndrome with the possibility of future publication. So it seems like this is a career opportunity. He makes it clear that he doesn’t think he’s a model of a “good person,” casting doubts on the altruistic intention he tried to give Rorschach at first. Additionally, you can see a note on the file while Dr Malcolm is at home that says “One for you, Mal?” signed only with the initial “G.” So it sounds like it might have been passed on to him like a favor to a friend. I also wonder if “G” is someone we should know or will meet or if it’s just me diving too deeply.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xkonk
Rorschach makes it pretty explicit that he believes in the "Bruce Wayne is Batman's mask" idea for himself.


I definitely noticed that as well but I think this issue really connected the psychology of Rorschach with Batman.

Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelekrupp
In Rorschach’s world there is no order, no larger plan. There is only man, and man is terrible.


Rorschach’s language certainly gives that impression and it reminded me very much of Batman’s monologue to Superman during their fight at the end of Miller’s Dark Knight Returns:


Though Nite Owl certainly seems more Batman-like on the surface with the money and the gadgets psychologically, Batman is Rorschach.

This issue also touches on Rorschach’s brief encounter with the Comedian that we glimpsed at several issues back. While we don’t see more of the encounter we do get insight into Rorschach’s thoughts and why he might’ve characterized the Comedian’s attempted rape as a “lapse of morality.” It is pretty clear when Rorschach met the Comedian he admired him. Not because of his morality but because of a perceived dedication to a cause despite what others may think of him. I think some of that may have been imprinted a little later since Rorschach wasn’t Rorschach yet but after the child kidnapping that really made him he projects a lot of his worldview on the Comedian and describes him almost as a kindred spirit.


The imagery of the graffiti from the previous issue is repeated several times. Rorschach had made a remark about how it appeared like two people in a sexual situation and in this issue we see Rorschach recalling that same image at the sight of an ink-blot and connecting it to his mother’s life as a prostitute. Doctor Malcom, upon seeing the graffiti links it to the shadows of Hiroshima victims.

Seeing the “who watches the watchmen?” graffiti in Rorschach’s flashback got me thinking about the title of the book, which clearly is a reference to the question above. However, thinking of Doctor Manhattan’s flashback, I wonder if another interpretation of the title could be “Watch Men” as in those who make and repair watches, or to extend Doctor Manhattan’s metaphor, those who see and are carried by the invisible machinations of the universe.


Quote:
Originally Posted by xkonk
The 'Nerertheless' typo in the police history is an odd one; r and v aren't that close to each other on the keyboard.


I noticed a few typos in the text pages as well. If I were to ascribe a story-related explanation I would say it is trying to show a lack of attention to detail on the mental hospital’s part. The typo in young Walter’s report makes a bit sense considering his age at the time though I wonder if it was meant to be what he had actually written (how many people were typing their homework in the 50s?) or if it was a later transcription? I also have to wonder if they were just typos that got past an editor lol
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dielinfinite
Quote:
Originally Posted by xkonk
Malcolm Long's wife talking about him makes you wonder why Mal got the case. He doesn't sound like a guy who works with a lot of hardened criminals, or many criminals at all.


I think the answer to “why?” is at the very end of the issue on the note he clipped to the police file before he interviews Walter for the first time.

I’m on a similar page on this as @michaelekrupp, though I’m not sure I would label him as an up-and-comer but this is certainly an opportunity for him. He mentions that he thinks interviewing him could help him discover a new syndrome with the possibility of future publication. So it seems like this is a career opportunity. He makes it clear that he doesn’t think he’s a model of a “good person,” casting doubts on the altruistic intention he tried to give Rorschach at first. Additionally, you can see a note on the file while Dr Malcolm is at home that says “One for you, Mal?” signed only with the initial “G.” So it sounds like it might have been passed on to him like a favor to a friend. I also wonder if “G” is someone we should know or will meet or if it’s just me diving too deeply.

I understand why Malcolm might want the case; I don't understand how he got the case. Does he strike either of you as the kind of guy who has a history of talking to high-profile criminals, or multiple murderers? He gets absolutely destroyed in three days. Who would give him the chance and think he might succeed? I'll have to look back at the notes on the files again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dielinfinite

Quote:
Originally Posted by xkonk
The 'Nerertheless' typo in the police history is an odd one; r and v aren't that close to each other on the keyboard.


I noticed a few typos in the text pages as well. If I were to ascribe a story-related explanation I would say it is trying to show a lack of attention to detail on the mental hospital’s part. The typo in young Walter’s report makes a bit sense considering his age at the time though I wonder if it was meant to be what he had actually written (how many people were typing their homework in the 50s?) or if it was a later transcription? I also have to wonder if they were just typos that got past an editor lol


I think the typos were intentional; I definitely noticed a couple others. It's just that those were fairly common typos ("teh" or similar) but switching r and v seems odd.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xkonk
I understand why Malcolm might want the case; I don't understand how he got the case. Does he strike either of you as the kind of guy who has a history of talking to high-profile criminals, or multiple murderers? He gets absolutely destroyed in three days. Who would give him the chance and think he might succeed? I'll have to look back at the notes on the files again.


I don’t think he got it because he was the ideal person for the job. It seems like it was given to him because of his network connections. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and all that.

I definitely agree that it seemed strange that a seemingly happy marriage breaks down after just three rough days and an uncomfortable dinner. You can imagine that they might have already had problems but that doesn’t necessarily seem to be the case.

I kind of wonder if Moore knew what he wanted to show, and I’m sure the effects are not all that unrealistic, but didn’t want to compromise the rest of the story by having Rorschach being interviewed for weeks or months to affect the doctor’s personal life in a more realistic timeline.
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I read issue 7 last night. Not a lot really jumped out at me. To the extent that the odd number issues are more focused on plot, this one is all about Dan and Laurie getting together and back into heroics. We do learn more about Dan's history and personality, but it isn't nearly the deep dive that we got with Manhattan, Rorschach, or the Comedian.

There is a bit of personality/character discussion when it comes to Dan's impotence though. I didn't remember that they highlight it so explicitly as being about the costumes, but they certainly do. There's also some parallelism with the commercial for Nostalgia and Ozymandias' performance on TV that are less than flattering for Dan (and maybe Laurie, although she seems less obviously the target). Dan seems somewhat stuck in the past, and maybe Laurie too, and they're trying to recapture the feeling of when they were younger crimefighters. Ozymandias' performance (even in his 40s!) is smooth and perfect while Dan's is anything but.
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I read issue 8 yesterday and assumed I would get to 9 today but didn't.

Issue 8 breaks my (probably a stretch in the first place) character/plot alternating pattern. Kind of unfortunate as far as this series goes, because the character issues provide so much more to discuss and think about. But here we get the big jailbreak, where Rorschach demonstrates that everyone really was locked in there with him.

It ends on a sad note though, properly forecast by the Black Freighter reappearing, with the misguided death of Hollis Mason. I'm not sure if there's a greater lesson to the plot point besides the cruelty and ignorance of some people.

Going outside the book, the jailbreak was probably my favorite part of the Watchmen movie (from what I remember) Jackie Earl Haley did a great job as Rorschach and he was unmasked for the set piece. Maybe my memory is faulty again, but I feel like Dan and Laurie did some fighting here, but they don't in the issue. I think I saw that the movie is free with Amazon Prime; I'll have to give it a watch soon. Anyone know if the director's edition is worthwhile?
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Work’s been kicking my butt this week but I should be able to get something done tonight.

In the meantime, I leave everyone with this
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I was able to crank through #9 this morning.

This is, I suppose, our character issue for Laurie. If part of the theme of Watchmen is that the people themselves have also just been wound up and let go, she probably fills the mold best. Laurie was guided by her mother from childhood to be a crimefighter; she met Manhattan at age 16 and started a relationship that she couldn't really understand. Not that she probably didn't make some of her own choices along the way, but of all the characters she was certainly guided the most. She's also very reactive; falling into bed with Dan when he was attracted to her, going along to spring Rorschach, etc.

I totally understand Laurie's frustration with Manhattan; rereading this issue really drove home for me how nonsensical he is. He knows everything that happened in the past and will happen in the future (or at least for him personally), and he can act on that information when he wants to and treats it dispassionately. For example, when he appeared in Dan's house to get Laurie, he said that he did it because they would be talking on Mars in an hour so he should come and get her. He says that he'll hear that Laurie is sleeping with Dan but doesn't seem distressed about it; in an earlier issue he wasn't put off by JFK being assassinated. But he also doesn't respond to events he knows will happen in any kind of reasonable way, and in the moment he acts like he's experiencing things for the first time. He's surprised when Laurie slips about sleeping with Dan (although they had both already mentioned it) and when the Comedian killed the woman in Vietnam. He presumably knew that he would briefly suffocate Laurie when they teleport to Mars, but he still briefly suffocates her. The guy is extremely incoherent.

I'll put aside his views on how time works (the constant speed of light dictates that time is not fixed or simultaneous) as a flaw of the author and not a physicist who was remarking about how long it takes for light to travel from distant stars just a few issues ago.

Manhattan would say, as he does in the issue, that his reactions are as preordained as everything else. But it makes no sense that he can know things at all times (which he claims to and seems to) and also not know them and thus be surprised. His own analogy of an unseen watchmaker creating things and then letting them go implies a direction of time and the idea of cause and effect, but he doesn't experience them himself. Maybe it should all be chalked up to a human being given completely non-human abilities? Like, his opinions of how time and the universe work are a fancy way for him to abdicate responsibility (consciously or not) for what he's done and failed to do?

At any rate, plot-wise, we learn that Manhattan is not all-seeing because of some upcoming 'fuzziness' in his vision. Why is not clear (perhaps a massive atomic explosion?) but Manhattan will be on Earth again, and killing someone in the snow. Another inconsistency for Manhattan (if time is simultaneous, why is he fuzzy only for a particular "moment" when "moments" don't exist? why can't he see on the other side of the fuzziness and make some guess as to if, say, Earth exists?), but it builds tension for us heading into the final quarter of the series.

I didn't find too much of interest in the end materials for this issue (or issue 8). We get a little more dirt on the Minutemen, Hooded Justice in particular, but it mostly serves to tell us what we already knew about Sally and her ambivalence over the Comedian's attack. I guess you could read a little more into her reasons for raising Laurie as she did; she wasn't so much a crimefighter as a publicity stunt, and she wanted Laurie to be more of the real thing. Or maybe at least strong enough to avoid the crummy personal life and movies that Sally went through. Issue 8's contents from the New Frontiersmen mostly gave some plot hints (more people are missing than the writer and artist we saw on that island), and showed that some corners of the media are evergreen.

I didn't say anything about Issue 7's back matter either; the article on owls and birdwatching in general was sort of interesting to read, and emphasizes Dan's romantic side to go with his scientific side, but that was also already called out in the text.
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As a side note, the appearance in Watchmen is noted in the Wikipedia article for Galle, the smiley face on Mars https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galle_(Martian_crater)
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Issue 7

Is Laurie’s apron supposed to be fashionable? It just seems like such an odd fashion choice but nowhere does it mention that she was wearing it for a practical purpose like washing dishes or something. I guess people in this world just wear aprons?

I kind of wonder if the Twilight Lady was meant to evoke Catwoman. Nite Owl was something of a Batman and Twilight Lady saw herself similar and even affectionate toward him not unlike Catwoman does. Also she does look a little like Catwoman from the 60s Batman tv show, which just so happens to be around the time Nite Owl II was active.

I was a little surprised that the disappearance of Max Shea, the writer of The Black Freighter, was brought up. His disappearance was mentioned in the historical article a few issues back.

In Dan’s nightmare, Silk Spectre (not Laurie) seems to represent the same thing Twilight Lady did once to Dan further suggesting a more significant relationship with the villainess than he let on.

I’m not quite certain how to interpret the nuclear bomb going off though. Is it just that that fear of inevitable war Dan mentioned and that he would rather face it as Nite Owl with Silk Spectre at his side? And of course the kissing skeletons recalls the graffiti that has been tagged around the city but also greatly resembles the moment Jon Osterman was blown apart.

Seeing the Nite Owl suit, particularly the goggles, reminded me a bit of Talon from the Batman: Court of Owls storyline and I have to wonder if Watchmen was a direct inspiration.
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@xkonk There are three different cuts of Watchmen. Theatrical, Director’s, and Ultimate. I think the Director’s Cut is the best version.

The Ultimate Cut incorporates the Tales of the Black Freighter animated film, which was originally released separately, into the main Watchmen film. I don’t think it works as well as it does in the comic as you don’t really get that ongoing Black Freighter narration to contrast with the main film. The movie also starts feeling a bit overlong with that material included. The Director’s cut includes some additional scenes, including the death of Hollis which is incredibly well done and quite sad.
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Issue 8

Right off the bat the issue toys with time a little bit, not that it was trying to hide it but unless you’re memorizing all the dates mentioned you kind of get used to assuming a chronological order. But the start of this issue kind of helps align everything as the whole previous issue took place concurrently with Rorschach’s interviews at the prison.

I do like how this issue feels like the various story threads laid out are starting to come together. Dan does some research and discovers that the newspaper that claimed Dr Manhattan was causing cancer is somewhat shady. It mentions that most of the people mentioned in their article, even Moloch, worked together elsewhere.

It’s similar to what I posited earlier but Dan doesn’t go back to the research facility that created Dr Manhattan as the common point, instead it links them at another research company in the late 60s.

The newspaper is also linked in a maze of corporate funding to more dimensional research which gets Dan suspicious, suggesting that Dr Manhattan’s exile may have been planned.

Is it ever explained why the detective thinks Dan is Nite Owl? I guess it’s mostly extrapolation from the fact that he was at the funeral along with Dr Manhattan and Ozymandias. He does make the connection to Rorschach via the sugar cubes but he couldn’t have known that before visiting Dan.

Also, I think this is Dan’s 3rd lock over the course of the series and this time it seems to hold long enough.

The New Frontiersman also seems to have gotten wind of something fishy regarding Dr Manhattan’s exile as they prep a new editorial, which is included at the end of the issue. At the same time it seems that while the conspiracy real, as we know from Dan’s own research, it seems almost by accident that that much aligns with the truth as the New Frontiersman comes off as an agenda-driven, right-wing rag as the article weaves in communist scare-mongering and defense of the KKK into its conspiracy theory.

The New Frontiersman and the main story also circle back to the missing author of the Black Freighter who we see is alive and well and speaking enigmatically to an artist drawing some one-eyed beaked monster about something they have created. The New Frontiersman notes other disappearances and weaves yet another conspiracy about scheming communists.

When we come back to the story we are told that the inmate Rorschach injured has died, cueing the riot as mentioned by Big Figure. I wonder if that inmate was meant to be someone important as otherwise his death triggering the riot seems a bit arbitrary. Maybe it was just the cue ordered by Big Figure?

The story teases us again with its playing with time. We are back at the newsstand where they are already reading about the riot and mention that five people died when immediately before and after we are barely seeing Nite Owl and Silk Spectre heading out to the prison.

I can’t help but think of the movie when I came to the scene where the inmates are trying to break into Rorschach’s cell and Rorschach ties the guy’s arms through the bars. In the comic the remaining goon just slits the guy’s throat but in the movie I think it is suggested that they use the power tool to cut off the guy’s arms.

I kind of like the movie’s solution better, if I am remembering it right. If the goon was in the way of cutting the lock, then slitting his throat doesn’t help much because he’s still in the way, and now he’s literal dead weight. Cut off his arms and he’s conveniently out of the way.

Again Dr Manhattan’s weird perception of time and cause and effect makes an appearance. He says that he needs to speak with Laurie on Mars simply because that is where the conversation takes place but it seems like he should be able to choose anywhere, he could even choose Mars, but you never see him choose. Instead, Mars is where the conversation is supposed to happen so he takes her to Mars. It just fees a bit cart before the horse with him some times.

Mason’s murder I actually see forecast not by the arrival of the Black Freighter but of the castaway finding his way on land. If the Castaway represents humanity driven mad by the inevitable arrival of the Black Freighter, which represents the looming doom of the world then the mob that kills Mason is lashing out wildly at perceived threats with tragic results. It does not bode well for the castaway’s prospects in the Black Freighter story.
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Originally Posted by dielinfinite
Is it ever explained why the detective thinks Dan is Nite Owl? I guess it’s mostly extrapolation from the fact that he was at the funeral along with Dr Manhattan and Ozymandias. He does make the connection to Rorschach via the sugar cubes but he couldn’t have known that before visiting Dan.


I don't think it's explained, but it strikes me as a common enough superhero trope. Given enough time, it should be fairly easy to make some good guesses as to who a hero is if someone cares to look into it. There's the funeral but you would also include people that would be rich enough to have the stuff that Nite Owl has, Dan maybe being a little too fit for a guy his age (although sometimes I think they draw him looking a little heavy? I feel like the art for Dan is a little inconsistent), speculation from when Nite Owl was active, etc.
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Originally Posted by dielinfinite
When we come back to the story we are told that the inmate Rorschach injured has died, cueing the riot as mentioned by Big Figure. I wonder if that inmate was meant to be someone important as otherwise his death triggering the riot seems a bit arbitrary. Maybe it was just the cue ordered by Big Figure?


My impression is it was mostly arbitrary. Any number of people in the prison wanted to get at Rorschach, and him killing a guy was reason enough. You could quibble about why they would wait for him to die as opposed to rioting right after the attack itself, but it probably gives a little extra cover and let the Big Figure organize things better.
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Sorry I am a little off schedule this week. Usually I try to do the required reading for the week on my day off, Tuesday. Unfortunately I spent the time devoted to doing this weeks reading removing a foot and a half of snow from my driveway! Re-read issue 7 today. There was an interesting point made early on about how running around in a costume can make you crazy (or even more crazy, as the case may be) all by itself. This issue was mainly a focus on Nite Owl, who became a super hero to live out his boyhood fantasies only to set that life aside when the government forced him to retire. While Rorschach regarded him as a moping, flabby failure, it is probably closer to the truth to say that, without his Nite Owl persona, Dan was incomplete. He may as well have cut off an arm! Even though retiring was the rational thing to do, it wasn’t the right thing to do. This decision effected every area of his life, including his ability to perform sexually. His incompleteness is further underscored by the text article at the end of the issue. It is amazing how putting on the costume and performing heroics immediately transformed Dreiberg back into his true self. What once was sundered is now made whole again. If there is a deeper message here, it is about the dangers of denying one’s true self.
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@michaelekrupp I think that's a good observation. Dan is in the mold of rich, tech-y superheroes like Batman or Iron Man but he doesn't have the same motivating drive that they do. Bruce Wayne became Batman when his parents died, but you could also imagine a life where he picked up their philanthropy or found some other path. Tony Stark became Iron Man to fight against his own legacy in some way, but he was already well-established as an engineer and could have lived the rest of his life that way. Dan got money from his father and... watched birds? Read a lot? They never describe him as an engineer, at least not a working one, so it isn't really clear what he would have done with his life had he not decided, somewhat on a whim, to throw on a costume. But that was what he wanted and he was living his best life. Without it he didn't have anything to fall back into other than occasionally puttering around his old equipment and reliving the good ol' days with Hollis.
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Week 4 (2/22-2/28): Issues 10-12








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Issue 9

I definitely agree with @xkonk in how frustrating to deal with and inconsistent the character of Doctor Manhattan seems to be. I think part of it is that the author had an idea for the character but created a character whose perception is so different from our understanding that it becomes difficult to write for. While I do like the character for the most part and think he was a great backstory, I kind of feel that he becomes a bit of a plot device since what we know about his abilities suggests he should be able to see and do certain things but what he does seems just to serve the plot.

That said, I thought the repeated use of the bottle of perfume, aptly named Nostalgia, fairly effective and it reminded me of Dr Manhattan repeating the line “It is XX and I am YY” from when he was recounting his story. This time visually suggesting Dr Manhattan’s non-linear perception of time while also tying into the repeated image of a glass of liquid shattering.

For its part, I think the alien landscapes in this issue were amazing and serve a nice change of pace from the dingy New York streets that comprise most of the series. That said, I wonder if Dr Manhattan’s “oceans of fog” comment was meant to be figurative, maybe they’re dust storms? since I don’t think Mars has humidity to create fog.

Of course, the issue’s great revelation is that The Comedian is Laurie’s father which suggests an incredibly complicated emotional state for Laurie’s mother. Somehow, even after the attempted rape the two got together and conceived a child and the relationship deteriorated once again. Or maybe Sally just came to her senses? Regardless, it does explain some of Sally’s reluctance to outright condemn the Comedian and his actions; it was a terrible act, yes, but she seemed to have found something worthwhile in him, even if only briefly.

We don’t really see the circumstances that brought Sally and Blake together. The timeline has Sally getting married to her manager in 1947 and Laurie being born in ‘49 so it seems it was an extramarital affair, which makes sense since Under the Hood mentions that Sally’s marital troubles began around that time.

The issue also humanizes the Comedian a bit and makes him an almost sympathetic character as he tries to connect with his daughter and the nostalgic feelings she seems to bring up regarding her mother.

It is the revelation of course; of the near impossibility of Laurie’s very existence, that causes Dr Manhattan to realize how all life is essentially a miracle in how so many factors stretching back eons had to come to be exactly as they did to result in the individual as they are now. The fact that we are surrounded by these miracles might make them seem mundane but we should not forget their significance. It is a nice message it just brings us back to the frustrating idea that Dr Manhattan would’ve/should’ve known he would come to it the whole time but apparently couldn’t/wouldn’t act on it until they’d come to that point in time.
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Originally Posted by dielinfinite
I think part of it is that the author had an idea for the character but created a character whose perception is so different from our understanding that it becomes difficult to write for. While I do like the character for the most part and think he was a great backstory, I kind of feel that he becomes a bit of a plot device since what we know about his abilities suggests he should be able to see and do certain things but what he does seems just to serve the plot.


When Manhattan comes to pick Laurie up from Dan's apartment, she refers to him as a deus ex machina and he agrees that it could be right. Maybe that was Moore hanging a lampshade on the problem.
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Of course, the issue’s great revelation is that The Comedian is Laurie’s father which suggests an incredibly complicated emotional state for Laurie’s mother. Somehow, even after the attempted rape the two got together and conceived a child and the relationship deteriorated once again. Or maybe Sally just came to her senses? Regardless, it does explain some of Sally’s reluctance to outright condemn the Comedian and his actions; it was a terrible act, yes, but she seemed to have found something worthwhile in him, even if only briefly.

We don’t really see the circumstances that brought Sally and Blake together. The timeline has Sally getting married to her manager in 1947 and Laurie being born in ‘49 so it seems it was an extramarital affair, which makes sense since Under the Hood mentions that Sally’s marital troubles began around that time.


In Laurie's flashback, I think Sally says something about seeing a flash of tenderness in someone so violent. I guess we're to assume that Sally had some amount of attraction to Comedian, or at least noticed some moments of normalcy from him between his usual joking and violence, that she used to justify her feelings after the attack? There's a lot more ambivalence in the interview materials at the end of the issue. On the whole, the relationship certainly plays into Moore's questionable writing/treatment of women in a lot of his work.
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The issue also humanizes the Comedian a bit and makes him an almost sympathetic character as he tries to connect with his daughter and the nostalgic feelings she seems to bring up regarding her mother.


There's an interesting parallel with The Boys, which I'm watching on Amazon Prime now (spoilers ahead if anyone plans on watching, and I haven't finished season 2 so please don't spoiler me!).

The main bad guy (not that there are many 'good guys', but he's about the worst) is Homelander, who is the leader of a group of corporate 'superheroes'. He also raped a woman who then had his child, but Homelander didn't know about it until years later. Like the Comedian, he goes to his child, potentially showing a little humanity. Unlike the Comedian, he forces his way into the boy's life and shows (consistent with his character throughout) that he's a complete ass with no redeeming features. I wonder if Moore would have given Comedian more of a redemptive arc if given the same opportunity, or if he would have continued being himself with Laurie.
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Issue 10 kicks the plot into high gear. Things all come together both for the reader and for Rorschach and Dan. The question, put explicitly by Dan, is if it will matter if WWIII starts the next day. Rorschach's answer is sort of like Nick Fury in the Avengers: you act like the world will keep spinning until it doesn't. So they continue their investigation and find that everything leads to Veidt. We also get some signs that Veidt is cleaning house, as his offices are empty, people associated with his hired attacker are all dead, and the people on the mysterious island were all blown up. We end with Rorschach and Dan gliding across the snow to Veidt's Antarctic base.

The discussions and mentions of death also ramp up. Nixon is in a bunker somewhere under DEFCON 2, the sailor from the Black Freighter is killing people even though his senses deceive him, and the newspaper vendor is talking about doomsday and seems to have reversed his thoughts on nuking everyone. Even Rorschach is spooked enough to mail off his diary, which apparently is what we've been reading for some of the narration. If the sailor in the comic is supposed to be a story of what man does in the face of impending doom, this is a bad sign.

This isn't a Veidt character issue at all, but we do spend more time with him here than probably the previous issues combined, especially if you count the last few pages. Veidt has trained his mind and body to be as perfect as can be. He sits in front of an array of televisions and soaks it in, then immediately distills corporate policies. He uses the zeitgeist to make business decisions for the future, but recognizes that if there's a war then business is going to be the last thing to worry about. His introduction to the Veidt Method book also suggests a somewhat spiritual aspect to his practices, and also a social application. I'm curious if his interest in Egypt came before his crimefighting days, like Dan and birds, or if it came with the studies that turned him into a crimefighter.

In the 'oddities' category, he signed the letter to his cosmetics director "love". Seems overly familiar to me.
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Issue 11 fills my wish of learning more about Ozymandias' back story. As a side note, I went to the Wikipedia article for Watchmen to remind myself of a timeline issue and read that Moore thought he only had 5-6 issues of content for a 12 issue series. So he decided to alternate/include story and character background issues. I guess I was on to something after all.

Veidt was precocious and rich from youth. His parents died young so he decided to give away his inheritance and follow the footsteps of his hero, Alexander the Great. Growing disillusioned at the end, though, he turned to the Egyptians as his ongoing inspiration. He became the crimefighter Ozymandias, but later gave that up as he realized that the real problems of the world couldn't be solved by a guy in a costume. He became a businessman, and began a long-term plan to save the world from itself. Foreseeing a nuclear war, he decided to unite the world against a common enemy by creating a psychic animal that he would teleport into New York, killing half the city (about 3.5 million people if the real NYC of 1985ish) but convincing everyone of a possible alien attack. In a move that I remember surprising me the first time I read it, he revealed all the details of his plan well after he did it so that there was no chance of Rorschach and Dan stopping him.

As was true of the other character-focused issues, I have more thoughts about this one. One is that while the Black Freighter story that's been intermingled with the plot probably applies in general to a few aspects of the story, I think the sailor maybe maps on best to Veidt. Veidt saw doom coming and he planned for it and relied on it; he sees the signs and knows how to interpret them. And when things got to the precipice, he acted. Unlike the sailor, though, how would Veidt ever find out he was making the wrong assumptions?

The timeline issue I looked up was to remind myself when Jon became Manhattan; it was 1959. So the Bay of Pigs never happened (I assume); the US - USSR phoneline was never established; it doesn't sound like there was the same close threat and then de-escalation that we had in our history. In the issue, Joey and her girlfriend (is she named in the series?) have been arguing and actually come to blows over their relationship. But people are coming to stop it and help; things are bad but they aren't going nuclear. Instead the fight is interrupted by Veidt's master plan. Veidt assumed there would be doom, and he saw doom, and he operated on those ideas without checking to see if maybe he was wrong.

Another thought I had was that despite his intelligence and his admiration for Alexander's 'lateral thinking', he doesn't really display his own. Alexander's solution to the Gordian Knot, which Veidt has a giant mural of on his wall, was brute force: to cut it with his sword. And Veidt just applied that same thinking to his own problems. He put on a costume and tried to punch problems, and when that didn't work he put on a suit and made enough money to bomb his problem. He says how the arms race created problems for people who need help (the old, the sick, children) but it isn't clear if he ever tried to untie those knots. The smartest man in the world, and all he ever did was try to punch problems in the face.

Going back to a point @michaelekrupp made before, Veidt has his own guesses about the Comedian and Hooded Justice. Maybe Blake was sent to find HJ for the Congressional hearings and did the deed when opportunity arose? It sounds like Veidt is left with the same speculation that we had earlier in the thread.

A final thought for now: I thought it was weird that Veidt snowed in his tropical room. Ozymandias was known for building monuments, not destroying them. He does refer to servants being buried in sand-filled chambers, so I looked it up and that apparently was only done rarely and in the very early days of the pharaohs; it wouldn't be done by Ozymandias' time over 1000 years later. So maybe some of it is fitting with his Egyptian love but I think it's mostly destroying evidence by killing his assistants.
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@xkonk interesting insights into Veidt’s character. I always thought that somewhere along the way he developed something of a messiah complex. He viewed the world as needing a savior and himself as the only man who could save it.

As for Sally and Blake’s complicated relationship, I think that there was likely always an attraction there. Not to justify Blake’s horrendous actions during the Minutemen days, but he clearly felt he was being sent signals by her at that time. Laurie’s birth was probably the result of a one-off fling during her marriage, judging from Sally’s explanation to her daughter when confronted about it. Blake did try to interact with his daughter after the Crimebusters meeting, which Sally quickly put the kibosh on, for reasons we can only guess. The scene where an aged, weeping Sally is seen kissing his picture shows that she likely always carried a torch for him.
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Originally Posted by michaelekrupp
@xkonk interesting insights into Veidt’s character. I always thought that somewhere along the way he developed something of a messiah complex. He viewed the world as needing a savior and himself as the only man who could save it.


Definitely. He makes a comment about doing something during his adventuring days so that he would have a story to tell Alexander if they met in the Hall of Legends. He obviously set a high bar for himself that he fully expected to meet. His comments in some of the end materials also kind of deflect praise but are happy to accept it. It seems like he would say something like "I didn't want to have to save the world but I was ready to if it needed it."
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Issue 10

The first page really ratchets up the atmosphere. Getting a real Dr Strangelove vibe.

We get a little Nite Owl/Rorschach time. First we get a brief scene of Rorschach recovering his back up outfit and he confronts his landlady who had lied about him making sexual advances toward her in the news. I can understand why the scene was cur from the film and instead just had Rorschach recover his gear before leaving the prison.

We come back to Ozymandias arriving somewhere snowy, likely the snowy place Dr Manhattan predicted he will kill someone. As he arrives Adrian changes from a standard suit into his Ozymandias outfit. I wonder, if like Dan, he has some psychological need for it, since there seems little practical purpose for it.

Then we get the first real look at Veidt’s mental ability, which we’d heard talked up in previous issues but have never really seen in action yet. He almost paraphrases Sherlock Holmes in his desire for data/information and he talks about it almost as if its a drug. Veidt then demonstrates how he processes the literal wall of information and draws almost precognitive predictions to advance his financial empire.

Next we get a brief scene with Nite Owl and Rorschach. This really helps to humanize Rorschach a bit. His relentless approach to crimefighting finally annoys Nite Owl to the point that he tells Rorschach off and unexpectedly, Rorschach accepts the criticism and recognizes that yes, he can be a bit much sometimes, and thanks Note Owl for his friendship and putting up with him.

A neat detail is that Rorschach’s backup uniform is the outfit he was wearing from his flashback when he killed the child murderer and his dogs as identified by the blood splatter on the coat.

After Nite Owl and Rorschach emerge from the river, ready to work the underworld for information we are basically smacked in the face by the Black Freighter as we turn the page. We’re at the same time turning the page into an entirely different book yet it carries the same tone of impending doom.

The Castaway has reached land certain that the Black Freighter has already reached his hometown and taken it over. So certain is he that when he sees a man he recognizes from town and his companion acting entirely unbothered, he assumes that they collaborated with the murderous pirates, making it an easy moral decision to murder them both. In a move reminiscent of his using the corpses of his crew mates to sail back home, he rigs the corpse of the woman up on her horse to help him get past the pirate sentries and get back into town.

After Rorschach and Nite Owl Hit the streets and find some information regarding the attack on Veidt, we get another brief interlude going back to the missing creatives. Their work on the island is done. Strewn across the two pages are images of a human brain and a tentacled creature. They were told they were working on a secret movie, then as they leave the island, their ship is destroyed. Whatever they were working on, someone wants it kept quiet enough to kill dozens of people.

Nite Owl and Rorschach break into Ozymandias’ office to get his help. They find Veidt’s graph of multiple worldwide crises converging in the 90s. For some reason Dan thinks to query Adrian’s computer about information regarding the company that contracted Veidt’s assassination attempt. Stranger still, the “smartest man on earth” has one weak ass password on his incriminating evidence and Nite Owl discovers Veidt is behind the companies tied to Dr Manhattan’s exile and even his own assassination attempt. Rorschach and Nite Owl then rush to Veidt’s Antarctic hideout.

Rorschach makes his final entry into his journal. He acknowledges how dangerous an enemy they are up against and doesn’t believe they will survive the confrontation. Rorschach mails his journal to someone. For a bit I thought it might have been meant as a dead drop because I thought the inkblot he signs his journal off with was a paper taped do the wall as a signal.

The Black Freighter returns, alternating every other frame with the Newsstand owner as we see Rorsach’s journal taken from the mail. The dialog and narration from the real world and the Black freighter story overlap in such a way that it all feels like a single event. The Castaway approaches his hometown, one of the two riders from which the issue gets its name, mistaking a scarecrow as a pirate sentry and feeding into his delusion overlapping with the the newsstand’s conversation about certain devastating war.

Rorschach’s journal counties its journey and arrives at the office of the right wing rag, The New Frontiersman, where a brief sampling of its contents had it dismissed as junk.

Nite Owl and Rorschach crash in Antarctica. Here it mirrors the Black Freighter almost too much. Nite Owl and Rorschach crash about 20 miles from Veidt’s hideout. The same distance the Castaway landed from his town. and while the two horseback riders approached the town in the Black Freighter, Nite Owl and Rorsach become the two riders approaching destiny.

The corporate communication at the end shows how shred Ozymandias’ business empire could be; aiming to take advantage of others’ image and even those of the dead. It bears mentioning that these plans would’ve been drawn up in the days after Moloch’s death and Rorschach’s capture.

It also gives some insight into Veidt in how he has no qualms exploiting human nature for profit but does some ethical reservations as far as appropriating others. The message Veidt sends regarding the Nolstalgia cosmetics shows his forward-thinking nature or perhaps he knows or anticipates a great societal change that others do not.

One oddity; for a man obsessed with perfection, I did find one spelling mistake in his letter regarding Nostalgia cosmetics.

The final document is the introduction to Veidt’s self-improvement system. It gives an insight into Veidt’s mindset and what out heroes are up against. The document suggests an individual that is disciplined in mind and body to the point that Veidt describes the results as superpowers. In a way, this reminds me a little of how Batman is often described as the peak example of human perfection. Its a bit interesting how our current idea of Batman incorporates major portions of these characters meant as archetypes of various super-hero types.

The summary of the final chapter gives us a final insight into Adrian’s mindset. He says he views the individual as a part of a larger social organism and a desire to change the world around him for the better.
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Issue 12 finally gets us to the fireworks factory, sort of literally since the first fifth of the book is just splash pages of devastation. It also features just about the only 'superhero' stuff in the series, which is kind of odd for a book all about superheroes. Manhattan did his stuff on Mars and whatnot, but there aren't really any superhero fights or craziness like that until this issue, where Veidt catches a bullet with his bare hands and Manhattan uses his powers in a more angry way.

In the meantime, Veidt confesses to basically everything. He did kill his servants to cover the evidence and cut all traces back to him. But his plan works; everyone thinks that aliens somehow appeared on Earth, so Russia is pulling back their tanks and people are talking about sending aid and whatnot.

The only interesting part is what happens next: Dan, Laurie, Rorschach, and Manhattan have to decide what to do. Veidt says they can't say what happened, or kill him and risk an investigation that finds out, because knowing that it wasn't aliens will undo everything and put the world back on the path to war. Manhattan finds it logical, and Dan and Laurie get on board. Rorschach, rigid as always, doesn't believe in compromise. Manhattan follows him outside and blows him up before he can go back to the US and tell people what happened.

From there, it's wrap-up. No one knows that Rorschach had dropped his journal in the mail for the New Frontiersman, leaving open the chance that perhaps someone will find out what happened after all. Dan and Laurie take on disguises (I guess they're probably still wanted by the police? And Laurie at least is somewhat known in her civilian identity) and visit Sally. Laurie says that she found out who her dad was, and understands a bit better now why people make choices and keep secrets. Dan is also still apparently a horndog, as he flips through Sally's Tijuana Bible and admits to having owned one before. And maybe still interested in throwing on the costume once in a while.
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I was going to watch the movie before doing some kind of wrap-up post, but a) Amazon says the director's cut is 'currently unavailable' b) the ultimate edition with the Black Freighter cartoon is purchase only c) the regular edition is rent only, and I have so much free/already paid for stuff that I couldn't get myself to pay for it. I'll gather my thoughts sometime this weekend.
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Starting Monday, New Month, New Reading, New Thread!
Next Month, the many deaths surrounding the Amazing Spider-Man!

Wk1 (3/1-3/7): Amazing Spider-Man 88-90





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So this issue in a lot of ways feels like an ending because much of the important action feels like its happened and all that’s left is to just wrap things up.

Early in the issue we return to the Black Freighter. The Castaway seeking to rid his home of the pirates that have surely overtaken it. In his haste and madness he beats what turns out to be his wife in front of his daughters. Realizing what he’a done, the castaway flees.

I think what is admired about the tale of the Gordian knot and why it is used as an example of lateral thinking is that it takes an unexpected course to solve a problem. Yes it is brute force but it is in the realization that you have other options available beside the obvious, in this case struggling futilely to undo the tangle of ropes. Similar to Kirk’s solution to the Kyobayashi Maru test. Both are certainly against the spirit of the challenge but when the challenge is impossible by nature or by design then you either play by the rules and fail or break them and succeed.

This is the kind of situation Ozymandias sees in the world. The world powers are trying to preserve peace by amassing a greater and greater potential for destruction and in doing so already destroying the planet by pollution and destruction of the environment. The obvious approach would be to get the world powers to agree to a stable peace while getting rid of wmds and working together to preserve the planet. Ozymandias felt this approach is impossible as the knot was so he instead had to find an unorthodox solution. Yes his solution required money and violence but when presented with the challenge of achieving world peace who would even think manufacturing a fake enemy to unite the world against was even an option?

Of course, as the Black Freighter seems to mirror the situation but with more clarity. The Castaway was operating on assumptions he understood to be true...but then they weren’t. And I think that’s what Joey’s fight with her ex is meant to represent. Yes we are emotional creatures that can turn on each other but many people were come to help stop the fight so maybe there was hope for humanity after all?

The destruction of the biome also confused me a little. It is a powerful image of a vibrant world dying in the cold. I don’t think its so much to get rid of evidence, as the article at the end of the issue shows the dome is known to the world so anyone coming to investigate would wonder where it was. In addition, wouldn’t freezing everything under snow preserve evidence? I think it meant to be more symbolic. Of course there is the callback to the Egyptian practices about killing and burying servants with the pharoh they served but on another level I wonder if it was meant to reflect the heinous amount of death Veidt was to bring about or maybe it was a sacrifice, both his servants and the world he created where it shouldn’t exist, in solidarity to those who will, unwillingly, sacrifice their lives for Veidt to accomplish his goal.

The brief encounter Veidt recalls with the Comedian does lend weight to @michaelekrupp’s theory that the Comedian may have killed Hooded Justice. Maybe he took it as a personal score to settle so reported the mission as failed.

Ozymandias monologuing like so many villains have done and still do, revealing his horrific master plan to the heroes who we all expect would find a way to stop him only for him to turn around around and say that it is already done was such a bombshell in how it averted the established cliche, I can only imagine it was even more shocking when it was first released. How could our heroes really have failed in stopping such a horrific event? And what do we do now?

I love the final frames of the issue as the Bernards hug and everything fades to white and ending with the Quote from Shelley’s poem.

The movie made some slight changes to the details here. Where Ozymandias asks if they think of him as a “republic serial villain” the movie made it a little more on the nose by changing it to something like “do you think I am some comic book super villain?”. Of course it makes a little less sense in-universe where superhero comics were not as prevalent so the cliche is less likely to have been established.

Also, I guess to simplify the story, the movie did away with the genetically created “alien.” Instead, Ozymandias’ plan was to make it seem like Dr Manhattan attacked New York, thus turning the world against him instead of an alien. It worked well enough for the movie but in removing all the genetic modification stuff in the background it just made Ozymandias’ Lynx Bubastis seem to come out of nowhere.

Speaking of Doctor Manhattan, where the hell is he and Laurie during this issue? Since he left with Laurie Nite Owl and Rorschach have recovered Rorschach’s spare costume, layed low for a while, worked the underworld for information, uncovered Veidt’s plan, flew to Antarctica, rode 20 miles on their little hover bikes, got their ass kicked by Ozymandias, listened to Ozymandias detail his master plan, and finally watch him blow up a large chunk of New York. What have Laurie and Doctor Manhattan been doing for like 2+ days? I know the book can toy with time a bit but I don’t think Laurie and Doc’s conversation was actually spread across several days.

On a final note on this issue, I did smile a little the interview at the end of the issue where Ozymandias references the comic book trope of heroes often fighting each other when they first meet, thinking the other an enemy before sorting things out.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dielinfinite
I think what is admired about the tale of the Gordian knot and why it is used as an example of lateral thinking is that it takes an unexpected course to solve a problem. Yes it is brute force but it is in the realization that you have other options available beside the obvious, in this case struggling futilely to undo the tangle of ropes. Similar to Kirk’s solution to the Kyobayashi Maru test. Both are certainly against the spirit of the challenge but when the challenge is impossible by nature or by design then you either play by the rules and fail or break them and succeed.

This is the kind of situation Ozymandias sees in the world. The world powers are trying to preserve peace by amassing a greater and greater potential for destruction and in doing so already destroying the planet by pollution and destruction of the environment. The obvious approach would be to get the world powers to agree to a stable peace while getting rid of wmds and working together to preserve the planet. Ozymandias felt this approach is impossible as the knot was so he instead had to find an unorthodox solution. Yes his solution required money and violence but when presented with the challenge of achieving world peace who would even think manufacturing a fake enemy to unite the world against was even an option?


The Gordian Knot, and Veidt's plan, are certainly good examples of "outside the box" thinking. But I thought of Thanos more this read through when I thought of Veidt. Especially with the movie I think Thanos had kind of an unexpectedly big fanbase, like he was almost a tragic hero. "It was a touch choice but he did what he thought was right!", "How else we could we avoid this impending tragedy!", etc etc. But similar to my complaint about Thanos, my complaint with Veidt would be that he didn't think enough. Thanos had literally all the power in the universe but the only way he could think to solve his problem was to kill people. Veidt was a little more limited but he still had a ridiculous array of options and years to make it a reality (and apparently he could make quite a plan into a reality!), but the only way he could think to solve his problem was to kill people. These aren't heroic, or even tough, choices. These are flawed decisions.

Another parallel I've talked about with other people is the trolley problem. If you've taken a philosophy class, or have a certain type of person share memes with you, then you've probably seen it. The trolley problem is an example of a quandary that researchers use to study moral reasoning, but it is framed as an either/or question that basically emphasizes a cold cost/benefit analysis or should I kill a few people or more people.




The trolley problem in the real world would be a terrible decision. The trolley problem in a comic book world isn't even a problem! Would Superman, or Iron Man, or Captain America, even accept the premise? They would lift the trolley out of the way or stop it with their bare hands or whatever. Veidt's (and Thanos') problem wasn't lateral thinking, it was that they didn't think laterally enough.

A more interesting discussion would be the other crimefighters after the fact. Are they right to keep the secret? As I type this I think I would say no, but I'm more sympathetic to yes than I would be for Veidt.
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