Mon
Feb 27 2012 2:00pm

The Great Alan Moore Reread: Watchmen, Part 1

Watchmen Issue #1 CoverTor.com comics blogger Tim Callahan has dedicated the next twelve months to a reread of all of the major Alan Moore comics (and plenty of minor ones as well). Each week he will provide commentary on what he’s been reading. Welcome to the 18th installment.

The Watchmen: Absolute Edition from 2005 reprints important supplemental material from a limited edition Graphitti Designs hardcover, where we get to see the early versions of the ideas that would inform the final miniseries. In Alan Moore’s original proposal for the series – even the original character descriptions – there was no Dr. Manhattan, or Rorschach, or the Comedian. Instead, Watchmen was conceived as a revamp of DC’s then-recently-acquired Charlton Comics characters. Captain Atom. The Question. Peacemaker. Etc.

Those Charlton characters were long gone by the time the first issue of Watchmen hit the stands in the late summer of 1986. Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons created their own original characters to replace the Charlton archetypes. But Watchmen was never really about those specific characters. It was about a superhero universe in decline as a reflection of a modern world in decline.

And though it may be popular these days to dismiss Watchmen, to write it off as overrated because it’s been held up as the ultimate superhero comic book for so long, or to diminish its importance because of the weak movie version or controversial spin-offs, when I sat down to reread Watchmen I found that it hasn’t lost its edge. What it does may not be as revolutionary in these 26 years since, but it remains a dense, textured, substantial work of narrative. It’s hailed as one of the greatest comics – maybe the best comic – for a reason: it’s two creators, in top form, telling a shocking story that resonates because of the way it’s told.

It deserves an issue-by-issue look, even if I don’t address every single point that might be made.

 

Watchmen#1 (DC Comics, September 1986)

Will Eisner was the first prominent comic book artist to use the reader’s eye as a kind of cinema camera and guide it through the scene, but few artists followed The Spirit’s lessons with regularity, and there’s very little in Dave Gibbon’s style that pairs it with Eisner’s bombastic, melodramatic approach to cartooning. So the Eisner connection is easy to miss. As is the Harvey Kurtzman influence, but the rhythms of Watchmen owe as much to the EC Comics work of that legendary figure as they do to Eisner’s storytelling patterns.

The thing is: the influence of those two comic book icons shows up more in the script, and when translated to the page by Dave Gibbons, the entire production takes on an air of austerity. Gibbons is a remarkable draftsman, and his fine attention to detail creates a palpable reality for the characters in this series. It’s just that Alan Moore’s typewritten, all-caps, extremely long scripts for each issue dictate a kind of panel-to-panel storytelling that takes the teachings of Eisner and Kurtzman and uses them to tell a fully-realized story about a superhero world gone wrong. Deadpan. Serious. Tragic.

The weight of Watchmen is immense, from the first pages of its opening issue. The techniques – nine-panel grid, camera moves, first-person captions – may not have been wholly original, but employed as they are here, they don’t look like any comics that had come before. This is an ambitious comic from page one. It aspires to become a masterpiece of the form, and, amazingly, it succeeds.

It has a sense of humor about itself, but it’s a nasty one, drenched in irony.

The first issue, after all, features a smiley face awash in blood on the front cover.

Before I dig into the issue, I need to point out that Watchmen, in 1986, demanded a different kind of reading than any other superhero comic. It was so unlike everything else, in its delivery of narrative. And though decades of Watchmen-lite comics have filled the marketplace, it’s still unlike everything else. What struck me most as I reread issue #1 was the quantity of moments in just a single comic.

A quick comparison – and these numbers may not be exact, but the proportions are what matters: I counted 196 panels in Watchmen #1, plus a text piece in the back that further explored the world presented in the comic. A quick flip through an average issue of a recent comic from 2012, Green Lantern Corps, showed a total of 70 panels – 70 moments – in that one issue. That seemed about right for a contemporary comic, but then I remembered that Ed Brubaker and Butch Guice’s Winter Soldier had plenty of inset panels and virtuoso storytelling tricks of its own, so I added up what I found in there. More, with 107 panels, but still far fewer than Watchmen #1.

I think it’s safe to say, based on those statistics and a few more comics I flipped through just to confirm, that each issue of Watchmen has about twice as much “stuff” happening as a normal superhero comic book. But a sizeable percentage of the “stuff” – the panel to panel transitions – is not one dynamic incident after another. It’s slow burn revelations and reactions. Methodical movement through time.

And one of the things you get when reading it in a collected edition – like my preferred version, the Absolute edition – are the echoes throughout the past and present. In this first issue, as the detectives try to reconstruct what happened in Edward Blake’s apartment, Moore and Gibbons intercut flashback panels showing the beaten Blake thrown through the window. The third panel on panel three – Blake battered and bloody, his broken nose dripping red onto his small Comedian button – is just a single slice of narrative here. But the composition of that panel with Blake/The Comedian staring toward the reader, recurs several times in Watchmen as a whole.

So does the photograph of the Minutemen. Or the pieces of clockwork. Or the graffiti, “Who Watches the Watchmen?” in a comic where no one ever calls the superheroes by that name, even though it’s the title of the series.

These are the kinds of patterns and layers that enhance the structural power of Watchmen. They underline that the how is as important as the what. Yes, as in the case of the recurring Comedian headshot, the style reinforces the meaning of the story. The Comedian, Edward Blake, is at the center of Watchmen. It’s his death that spurs the plot that drives the twelve issues. It’s easy to forget that Watchmen opens as a murder mystery, because it becomes so much more, but that’s what kicks everything off. The death of the Comedian. And everything that follows from that.

Besides the opening murder mystery, the first issue also introduces us to all of the main characters. We see Rorschach’s investigations (and, notably, we “hear” him before we ever see him in costume, through the journal entries on the first page), and we meet both Nite Owls, establishing that this series takes place in a world where costumed characters have existed for at least two generations. We meet Ozymandias, in his tower. Dr. Manhattan, 20-feet tall, glowing blue, completely naked. And the woman who once was the Silk Spectre.

There’s something else about Watchmen that makes it stand out from other examples of the superhero genre: the sense of exhaustion.

In Silver or Bronze Age comics – particularly the ones from Marvel – you might get heroes who struggle and fall down and have to rise up against impossible challenges. Spider-Man might have to punch bad guys while fighting a nasty cold. But in Watchmen, the whole world seems exhausted. All of these superheroes – past and present – that we see in the comic are barely holding it together. They are beaten down by life, or, in the case of Dr. Manhattan, hardly interested in what remains in the human world. They are all world-weary, and the world around them is just as exhausted.

Most readers, I suspect – and this is an interpretation echoed by the unsuccessful film adaptation – think of Watchmen as set against a backdrop of global violence and impending nuclear war. Ozymandias’s machinations are an attempt to bring unity through external conflict. Or so he seems to believe.

That notion creeps into the series soon enough, but it’s almost completely absent from the first issue. There’s no “brink of war” histrionics in this opener.

After rereading Watchmen #1, I can’t help but think Ozymandias’s plot has more to do with waking people up, with snapping them out of their exhausted boredom. Or, perhaps, his own.

 

Watchmen#2 (DC Comics, October 1986)

The mystery unfolds, and Alan Moore uses the scene at Eddie Blake’s burial as a device to flash back into the memories of Ozymandias, Dr. Manhattan, and Nite Owl. But this issue will always be remembered for what comes before that. The devastating bombshell that follows Laurie Juspeczyk’s visit to her mother at Nepenthe Gardens. The infamous rape scene.

The glint of sunlight on the old photo of the Minutemen throws us back – through, presumably, Sally Jupiter’s memories – to the sequence of events immediately after the photograph was taken. Eddie Blake – our now-dead Comedian, then a junior Pagliacci-adorned crimefighter – pushes himself onto the first Silk Spectre, Sally Jupiter, in her prime. She claws at him, and he beats her up. It’s brutal, unheroic, terrifying.

Hooded Justice walks in to find Eddie Blake, pants down, mounted atop the prone Jupiter. We never see the extent of the violation, and the gutters between the panels allow us to fill in the gaps with what might have occurred, but what we do see is horrible enough.

Blake is a rapist. Jupiter, his victim.

And this is where Moore gets himself into trouble, because though there’s no titillation in the scene, we later discover that Blake and Jupiter did have a later relationship. Jupiter fathered Blake’s child, even if the young Laurie Juspeczyk never knew the paternal truth. Because Jupiter seemingly forgave – even possibly fell in love – with her rapist, Moore falls into the depths of misogynistic cliché. At least, that’s what some have argued.

The whole situation is indeed troubling, but it’s at the heart of Watchmen. It’s not as simple as an easy romance between rapist and victim. It’s not that all is forgiven and the terrible, violent act is forgotten. No, it stands as the emotionally tumultuous center of the story. Blake’s death is the catalyst for the detective plot that eventually ties the series together, but his life is what led everything to this point. Edward Blake – the Comedian – is never more than a selfish, violent man. He is never redeemed, just because others sometimes forgive him for his awful offenses.

And Sally Jupiter lives, as she closes out her life, at Nepenthe Gardens, a rest home. “Nepenthe” is “anti-sorrow” through forgetfulness. But nothing indicates that Jupiter has forgotten, or forgiven. At least not permanently. Through Alan Moore’s characterization, she just seems to recognize that life is more complicated than simple clichés.

Issue #2 also provides more clues to lead to later conclusions, and more moments to echo into the future, as we see the failed first meeting of “The Crimebusters,” Captain Metropolis’s aborted attempt at gathering a team of 1960s do-gooders. The Comedian literally burns Metropolis’s plans to ashes, but the repercussions of the meeting would linger to the present day in the mind of Ozymandias, as we’ll see by the end of the series.

And even the Dr. Manhattan flashback, to Vietnam, does more than just show the vile nature of the Comedian (and explain where he got that nasty scar on his face). We see a Dr. Manhattan challenged for his non-interventionism. And that confrontation between the Comedian and Manhattan would linger into the present as well, as Dr. Manhattan (the only true superhuman in the series) would ultimately leave Earth entirely, and ponder his relationship to humanity.

Then there’s the militant crowd control flashback with the Comedian and Nite Owl, ending with Nite Owl’s lamentation, “What’s happened to the American Dream?” and the Comedian’s reply: “It came true. You’re lookin’ at it.” He might be referring to himself, or to the police state and civil unrest around him. Either way, the result embodies the failure of the Dream, by any rational measure.

Rorschach doesn’t earn a flashback in this issue – his memories will come later – but he forces one out of Moloch, the vampiric Lex Luthor former super-villain who attends Blake’s funeral. From Moloch, we learn of a list – and a disturbing visit by the Comedian shortly before he died. It furthers the mystery plot and exposes the corners of a vast conspiracy which will ultimately draw in all of the major players in the series. And the entire flashback is told from one point of view – one camera angle – as we look through Moloch’s eyes toward the foot of his bed, where the manic, and clearly frightened, Eddie Blake whimpers and rages.

The issue ends with the same flashback to Blake’s murder that we saw in issue #1 – only this time the other flashbacks echo throughout, like a refrain – and Rorschach’s journal provides the narration: “[Blake] saw the true face of the twentieth century and chose to become a reflection of it, a parody of it. No one else saw the joke. That’s why he was lonely.”

Over the panels of Blake, falling to his death in the past, we see Rorschach tell a joke about the clown who cried.

 

Watchmen #3 (DC Comics, November 1986)

After two issues – of what is ostensibly a superhero comic, even if, at the time, it was conceived as the superhero comic to end all superhero comics – we still haven’t had a fight scene. We’ve had Eddie Blake beat up a woman in her underwear, before getting beat up himself for his attempted rape. We’ve seen Rorschach tackle an old man. But we haven’t seen that staple of superhero conventionality, the old-fashioned brawl between good guys and bad.

But in issue three, we do get Dan Dreiberg and Laurie Juspeczyk – the former Nite Owl II and the former Silk Spectre II – battling some street punks. And Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons present it as a sexual release, complete with the couple gasping at the end and then some shame and cigarette smoking.

So much for the conventions of superhero comics. Not only is nothing sacred to Moore and Gibbons in Watchmen, but the series is built to punch holes in the traditions of the genre. The great American hero, the Comedian, is an utterly loathsome bastard. The glittering past of the Golden Age heroes is filthy with corruption and repression and dirty little secrets. Costumes are fetishes. The one character seemingly in the pursuit of the truth is a sociopath who breaks fingers and hides inside refrigerators. The one superhuman being on the planet gives his loved ones cancer.

That last point is at the center of this issue.

Though the fallout shelter detail on the cover closes in to the city block where the two Bernies stand (or sit) at the newsstand, it’s a more apt symbol for what happens in the major sequence in the issue as Dr. Manhattan is accused, on live television, of killing those close to him. We learn that many of his former acquaintances, and even enemies, have been stricken with cancer, and the clear implication is that his blue, glowing form would have irradiated those nearby, and over the years that exposure has killed some and put a death warrant on the rest.

Dr. Manhattan, confronted with that information, flees. But since he’s superhuman, he doesn’t run away, he teleports. First to Arizona, where his story began (as we will see in the future of this series – time is an intricate machine in this comic), and then to Mars. He doesn’t have a Fortress of Solitude to retreat to. But Mars will do. It’s suitably remote.

And with Dr. Manhattan off the board, the world is more precipitously close to all-out nuclear war. Manhattan had been the ultimate Doomsday device, the ultimate defense against foreign aggression. With him off planet, the clock towards Armageddon ticks away. President Nixon – yes, Nixon is still in charge in the mid-1980s of this series. Dr. Manhattan’s presence, historically, changed everything in the reality presented in this series.

But now he’s gone. And as Dr. Manhattan sits on Mars and looks at an old photograph from before he was “born,” Nixon’s voice overlaps this Martian scene: “humanity is in the hands of a higher authority than mine. Let’s just hope he’s on our side.”

A few final notes before I leave you for the week: (1) Moore and Gibbons and letterer/colorist John Higgins completely remove thought bubbles or sound effects from the series. Those comic booky techniques are never used, and their absence here influenced an entire generation of creators to abandon them. (2) The series takes place in 1985 but the fashions are completely unlike any 1980s fashions in our world. Gibbons draws everyone in thick fabrics, styled like some mod/bohemian fusion of the best of the 1960s and the more understated of the 1970s. That attention to parallel universe detail is emblematic of Watchmen as a whole. (3) John Higgins recoloring job on the Absolute Edition really cleans things up, more than I remembered. But when I went back to read the original issues, I found the browns and purples to make the issues a bit too sloppy for such a well-chiseled series. I believe the most recent hardcover and softcover reprints – even at the smaller size – use the new coloring, and it’s a significant improvement over the look of the original issues.

It’s nice when a great comic book series ends up looking even greater.

 

NEXT: Watchmen  Part 2. Still Very Good.


Tim Callahan writes about comics for Tor.com, Comic Book Resources, and Back Issue magazine. Follow him on Twitter.

25 comments
Martain Chandler
1. Martain Chandler
Re: Tiredness and (lack of) 80s Style - I always had the feeling that the sense of style and dissipation presented was a direct result of an America forever locked in 1972. We won the war but the cost of victory was that nothing would be allowed to change. This is possibly echoed by a never-ending Nixon presidency, too.
rob mcCathy
4. roblewmac
I never have known exactly what it means but it must mean somthing how much more slowly the active "Masks" age than the retired ones. in 1985 even the second generation has got to be deep into their 4os. Meta comment on superheroes not aging or just Moore telling readers to stay active?
The rape is the most shocking thing in whole story to a reader used to 80's comics (where any rape was in readers heads there MIGHT be a "The awfull thing they did" but it they never showed a clear rape. Surely nobody with "justice" in their name threw a few punches and forgot about it
I think for that bit to work the way it did on me Watchmen has to be the first Moore you read. I think I can say without any fear of contadiction for whatever reason Moore wrote a lot of rapes.
Just out of curiousity "Vampic" for Moluch? Why? I always thougt Moore took great glee in the "bad guy actully being the most decent preson in the story. I may have missed somthing.
Martain Chandler
5. zep243
Tim,

Can I ask why you think the film version was weak?
Jonathan Lennox
6. JonLennox
Most readers ... think of Watchmen as set against a backdrop of global violence and impending nuclear war.

This is the difference between reading Watchmen in 1986, and reading Watchmen (or seeing the movie) today.

In 1986, the backdrop of global violence and impending nuclear war was the realistic part of the story.
rob mcCathy
7. roblewmac
The film bent over backward to cut out rorsach's rasict leanings. Which not true to the book I did not mind. Rosach done properly would people running from the theater.
When I first saw the film I liked it a lot. It would be interesting to see it again now that i've read enough negitive reviews to circle the earth 10 times.
Sol Foster
9. colomon
Instead of going to see the movie when it came out, I reread the comic for the first time in a some years. Revisiting it, I thought the story was weaker than I remembered. Don't get me wrong, it's still head and shoulders above 99% of the comics out there. But I'm not at all convinced it stands up well to even a very good novel.

On the other hand, the graphic storytelling technique displayed in Watchmen is spectacular, a complete tour de force. Scott McCloud could easily make his next full-length opus "Understanding The Techniques of Watchmen".

I cannot tell you how much it frustrates me that the lessons the comics community seem to have taken from Watchmen were "Everything should be grim and gritty" and "No thought balloons or third-person narration", rather than "You have an amazing medium. Use it to its fullest."
rob mcCathy
10. roblewmac
Colomon dead right here's a numbered list of how it is still diffrent.
1. Absolutely most important it has a begining a middle and end. In Superhero comics the universe blows up and still does'nt end
2 it's a good murder Mystery All the main charcter except Rorsuch Could have done it plus the FIRST TIME you read it you suspect the minitue men.
3 it goes without saying but in Dr Manhatten you get "ok what if Superman REALLY did work for the goverment? Natrually it changes the world in ways you'd never see at Marvel.
4 the mixing of comic book format with SO many diffrent non-comic formats makes the reader think they are dealing with a very large world. That could be done if you were a good writter. I mean don't you want to read Victor von doom's thieis?
Tim Callahan
11. TimCallahan
Yeah, as you'll see over the next few weeks, I don't think the story in "Watchmen" is particularly strong. But with all great films/novels/comics, the HOW is more important than the WHAT anyway. Or, just as important, and done better by Moore and Gibbons than almost anywhere else.

Okay, the "Watchmen" movie. I don't hate it, but I do have some things to say about it by the time part 4 of this Watchmen reread rolls around. And even though I don't hate it, I do think it's a terrible movie.

The basic reasons why?
1. Adrian Veidt is a smarmy villain from the MINUTE we meet him in the film. That's a complete mischaracterization and undermines the mystery story.

2. The wigs are embarassingly, distractingly bad, for a movie with such high production values. And I never notice stuff like that. I couldn't not notice the terrible wigs in this movie.

3. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons grounded their hermetic, artificial, virtuoso storytelling within a framework of real emotion and humanity. Snyder's movie version is artificial from beginning to end, and hollow.

4. The music. It's like reading Watchmen while someone yells at you from over your shoulder pointing to all the cool parts of the comic.
Eli Bishop
12. EliBishop
Tim: I agree about the movie except for one thing: Dr. Manhattan, the character I couldn't have imagined Snyder ever getting halfway right, is great. Part of that is Billy Crudup doing good work, but I think Snyder made some really good choices too: keeping the digital effects fairly straightforward and the voice almost-natural instead of making him super glowy and echoey, and generally just dialing down the frantic tone of the movie in Dr. M's scenes. The book uses stillness and deliberate pacing to great effect in the cosmic-awe aspect of the story, and I think that actually translated pretty well in those few parts of the movie-- it comes closest to having an emotional effect when it slows down and adopts the fixed gaze and steady rhythm of Gibbons's panels.
Martain Chandler
13. a-j
I read Watchmen on its original publication and was wowed by it. Re-reading it, I find it somewhat hollow. Oh, the story-telling is close to genius and, more so than The Dark Knight Returns which iirc was published shortly before, was instrumental in giving comics the critical gravitas they are now beginning to enjoy. But I have found after several re-reads that I see an emptiness to it and the problem lies with the plot. The characters are too heavy for the story which ultimately collapses under them leaving a sense of lost opportunity.
Martain Chandler
14. Terror and Love
I have found that I enjoy the comic more every time I reread it. It is as if I can get a little bit of the mystery and suspence back from my initial reread.

It is odd, that knowing the twists and turns I can actually focus more on the book and found it more enjoyable. The style seems a bit dated for the current era, so I dont know how the new readers take this story and setting. Reading all of my older comics has a very refreshing taste to them. I dont know if I try to put myself in the proper time when I am reading them though. But I try to do it for tjis bookm concerning that Cold war pressure . Love the feel of this alternate world.

Dr. Manhattan. I remember when I first got into this story. There was this feeling of horror to the character. Like watching one of my favorite old horror movies with my father. IE Forbidden Planet. That movie always disturbed me as a child and Dr. Manhattan always had that same effect. The effect is enhanced even more when we learn of his origin.

Movie. I liked the movie. Really enjoyed it actually. But there a few minor differences that I felt changed the impact of some characters and the story. I dont mean the changed ending, I like what they did with the ending "great attack". It was something else. But I have not seen the movie since in the theatres. So I might take it differently now on a rewatch.
rob mcCathy
15. roblewmac
Tim,
Agreed that were not supsosed to suspect Adrian in the comic because Rorsuch does'nt like him and we know R is a bigot. But you are suposed to mistrust Adrain right away. He made money from being a superhero!! that's a sure sign of corruption. Worse yet he QUITS. Readers of superhero comics don't like ethier of those things.
Martain Chandler
16. NicVinson
The first time I read Watchmen, Veidt was my favorite character... Right up till the end. I just never saw it coming. And I agree that the movies cardinal sin and the reason I disliked it was the complete screw up of Adrian Veidt. Just crap.
How I wish Terry Gilliam had made Watchmen in the late 80's with Costner as Veidt (or was it Jeff Bridges as Veidt and Costner as Nite Owl II?).

I still can never get past the Jupiter/Comedian relationship. Not after that rape scene. I don't know what Moore was attempting to say, but it leaves me questioning his artistic choice. I can suspend my disbelief about Dr Manhattan, but not the Jupiter/Comedian "relationship". For me it just doesn't work.
Martain Chandler
17. TroyWilson
Tim goes in-depth on the Watchmen movie with Chad Nevett here
http://geniusboyfiremelon.blogspot.com/2009/03/zack-snyders-watchmen-hits-splash-page.html
and here
http://graphicontent.blogspot.com/2009/03/splash-page-watchmen-movie-part-ii.html
rob mcCathy
18. roblewmac
Do you think there's missing chapter that has more on the cops?
Even though Moore is a very good writer and I think in some ways from Hell is better than Watchmen...sometimes Moore's treatment of women ruins a story for me. Killing Joke whatever it's other merrits was ruined by well you know...
Martain Chandler
19. Jonesy Stark
I understand how some people can be critical of this book 26 or so years after the fact. At it's core the story is nothing new and is very staright forward Murder/Mystery/Conspiracy. Also being exposed to plenty of books/writers influenced by it over time has made us a bit jaded to the original. But like you said Tim, it's the how now the what that makes this book arguable the apex of the medium. Personally my appreciation of this book only increases with each reading. I've reread watchmen about once or twice a year ever since I got it in 2008 and I've yet not to find a new engrossing angle. Just the other day my friend at my LCS and I were discussing it and he made note of how all the media outlets we get to view in the comic are directly owned by Adrian. Which brings to question your theory of whether the world really WAS hurtling towards armageddon or engineered to that place by Adrian. Looking at it from that angle it's wholly possible that Adrian took existing tensions and ratcheted them up via the media.

Also, agree that the way which Adrian was presented in the film (black costume, smarm) was waaaay off base and all but made him the clear big bad typical tights and fights villain. Honestly I hate to be "that guy" but I feel properly translating Watchemen to film is impossible. Moore/Gibons just didn't create it for any other medium. It was created to exist in it's medium and push it to it's limits. Any other one sorely lacks the componenets needed for it to be the achievement it was.
Martain Chandler
20. Eugene R.
Excellent re-reading of Watchmen, particularly the attention to the subtle "parallel universe" details that carry much of both the angst and humor in the series. My favorite is the running joke about "RR to Run for President?" in headlines and characters expressing disdain for "some cowboy actor being President", all playing alongside the US '80s reality of Reagan in office for 8 years ... but their "Hollywood politician" is Robert Redford.
Martain Chandler
21. Trey23
The movie is awesome.

tim, those are some weak reasons, and the music enhances those scenes
Marc Houle
22. MightyMarc
My problem with the movie was that it didn't capture the despair and darkness that was at the heart of the comic book. Terry Gilliam would have been the perfect director for the movie, if only he hadn't thought it "unfilmable".

If you directly compare the movie with the comic book, you'll most likely come out disappointed... For me there was one exception though: the ending. That was something that I thought the movie did much better.

Of course, it's probably better that I leave that discussion until the reread is over.
Martain Chandler
23. jbg
Everybody seems to have such a problem with Sally Jupiter having a relationship with Eddie Blake AFTER he raped her and beat her up. I agree, it's a stretch, but that's what makes it so poignant. Sally is really messed up, and she always has been. She started a relationship with Eddie to punish herself, because she thinks she needs to be punished. And, of course, after she had done so, she felt even worse about it, thus proving to herself that she deserved to be punished. Getting pregnant with Laurie was a penance for all of her bad choices and actions. Personally, the most amazing thing about this relationship is that Laurie turned out so stable to begin with, considering the loathing her mother must have felt over her existance, and that she was then pushed into the role of a costumed crimefighter!
Martain Chandler
24. The Mega Sage
I still can never get past the Jupiter/Comedian relationship. Not after that rape scene. I don't know what Moore was attempting to say, but it leaves me questioning his artistic choice. I can suspend my disbelief about Dr Manhattan, but not the Jupiter/Comedian "relationship". For me it just doesn't work.
I believe that one idea running throughout The Watchmen is that humans are deeply flawed, and 'super heroes' are really just deeply flawed people who dress up in costumes.

How many people do we know that are in relationships that aren't logical or rational. How many people are physically or emotionally abused by their partner, but still stay with them? It's certainly not logical or admirable, but few things are when humans are involved. I think we've all done things that we KNOW at the time are stupid, or petty, or that make no sense at all. And, in fiction, I think it's easy to accuse an author of making a point about something because of how character acts or reacts. But sometimes, a character can be messed up and do something 'wrong' simply because that's what people do.

Of course, Moore is pretty BSI, so I wouldn't be surprised if he was making an anti-feminist statement on women and violence. I just choose not to read it that way, and instead see Sally as a flawed human making a bad choice.
Martain Chandler
25. AriochRIP
@19 - That is a fascinating perspective re: the media. Had not thought of that!
Martain Chandler
26. Danny Sichel
It was only while reading this analysis that I realized the nominative connection between Minutemen and Watchmen.
Martain Chandler
27. FreeRadical
The disturbing rape Blake inflicts on Jupiter may be read as misogny. However: firstly, 'realism' is one goal of the book &, as anyone who has known or worked with abused women (or men) will attest, 'real-life' is messy, contradictory and,sometimes, unlikely and unpleasant; secondly, Moore frequently alludes to historical events - is there a parallel between Jupiter &, for example, Patty Hearst's 'Stockholm Syndrome'?

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