Mar 5 2012 3:00pm

The Great Alan Moore Reread: Watchmen, Part 2

The Great Alan Moore Reread: 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 19th installment.

I barely mentioned the back-matter in the opening three issues of Watchmen last week, but the excerpts of former Nite Owl Hollis Mason’s Under the Hood — his fictionalized memoir as written by Alan Moore — are essential pieces of the Watchmen text. In the three excerpts Moore provides the connective tissue for the world building that’s of such fundamental importance to the overall story of this alternate reality. Mason’s memoir gives more information about the early days of the superhero, from the down-to-Earth perspective of someone who actually lived through it.

And Mason’s distinctive point of view is important too, because even though Moore and Gibbons try, throughout the series, to wrestle with the conventions of comic book storytelling and provide a sense of seeing the world through various sets of eyes, comics, like cinema, are forced to present an objective depiction of reality. We see what’s in front of the camera, or inside the panels, and it’s difficult not to take it literally. We can speculate on what happens between the frames, but what’s shown is reality as far as we know.

With Under the Hood, Moore can adopt a much more subjective point of view. And we get the sense that Hollis Mason is being forthright and honest to his own experiences, but he’s also glossing over some more troubling aspects of the Minutemen’s past. It’s a celebrity autobiography, with some warts displayed, but others covered up a bit to protect some of his friends.

And yet, because Moore and Gibbons know that in the comic book story itself, we will take things as they are shown to us, they can use the visuals to mislead. In a detective story, it’s not always what you can and can’t see, but how you interpret the visual evidence. How you connect the dots.


Watchmen#4 (DC Comics, December 1986)

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons connect a lot of the dots for us in this issue, not in terms of the overall murder mystery that drives the main plotline, but in the way the history of this superhero world has been pieced together. This is the Dr. Manhattan spotlight issue, where we learn who he is and how he came to be and it ends with an essay by the fictional Professor Milton Glass who tells us, “our leaders have become intoxicated with a heady draught of Omnipotence-by-Association, without realizing just how his very existence has deformed the lives of every living creature on the face of this planet.”

That’s Dr. Manhattan he’s talking about, of course. The Captain Atom of the Watchmen universe. And its only Superman.

Reportedly, Alan Moore’s original plot for Watchmen only amounted to six issues of content, yet he had contracted to deliver twelve issues, and that’s where the quite-effective idea of alternating “story” issues with “character” issues came to be. In general, the odd-numbered issues advance the main story about the death of the Comedian and the investigation that leads to uncovering a much larger conspiracy. The even-numbered issues focus on the characters, and provide layered flashbacks into their pasts, presents, and, with issue #4, maybe even some futures.

Watchmen#4 is notable, not just for telling the story of the most powerful being in its universe, but also because it’s the only issue of the series that features people on its cover. Think about that. Twelve issues of an American superhero comic book series and not one of them shows any kind of action pose. Not one of them even depicts any of the main characters in any recognizable form. Rorschach’s hat appears in a reflected puddle of water in a later issue. Some amorphous forms reflect off the glass of a viewscreen in another, but this is a series with covers that emphasize its status as a story about shapes and symbols. Humans fill the inside of the stories, but they never appear on the outside.

Except here, and it’s a tattered photograph on the surface of Mars. Jon Osterman and Janey Slater, a memento of a past long gone for most, but eternally present for the temporally aware Dr. Manhattan.

Out of all the early issues of Watchmen issue #4 is one of the least interesting to reread, though, mostly because its framed as a character piece, but the character is a dispassionate, disengaged near-omnipotent superbeing. Moore and Gibbons use the issue to present so much exposition about Dr. Manhattan and the essential fragments of his life before and after the accident that led to his superhumanity that the story works, as its own clockwork symbolism indicates, as a delicate piece of a much larger machine. But it’s not a very interesting piece on its own, not in comparison to the rest of the series.

This one’s too clever, too systematic in its delivery, with Dr. Manhattan’s narrative captions providing a dry retelling of his life’s events and the cumulative loneliness of being able to participate in all times at once, on a subatomic level. When he builds his crystalline clockwork palace on Mars, we can’t miss the symbolism — this is Jon Osterman, the son of a watchmaker, connecting with his past in the most artificial way possible — but the symbolism alone isn’t enough to make it compelling. The first time through, yes. But not upon rereading.

Still, like any spring or wheel in a pocket watch, the whole thing can’t work without it.


Watchmen #5 (DC Comics, January 1987)

“Fearful Symmetry” is the title, and it’s the structure of the issue as well.

In Watching the Watchmen, the 2008 behind-the-scenes book which relies almost totally on Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen process art, Gibbons reveals that the script for this issue came a few pages at a time. He was drawing it without seeing the entire script.

Plenty of comics likely end up drawn that way — though it’s obviously not the preferred method for anyone — but what makes that approach remarkable here is that Watchmen #5 is visually symmetrical. The panel layouts and pacing read the same forward or backwards, with a climactic action scene occurring right in the middle of the issue, the center gutter bisecting a giant panel of Ozymandias battering his attacker.

As I mentioned last week, for a superhero comic, this series is astonishingly short on action scenes, on superhero fisticuffs, but the centerpiece of this issue not only breaks free from the gridded structure of the rest of the series, but, with its seven large panels spread across two pages, it shows a hero in full fighting mode, deflecting bullets, bashing a bad guy, diving toward victory.

It’s framed as if to say, “here’s what you’ve been waiting for, comic book fans! All-out action, thanks to the golden-haired Ozymandias!”

That should be a glaring hint that something’s wrong with the scene.

It’s a superhero action scene in a comic, in a series, that has subverted or ignored superhero action almost completely. But here, it becomes the focus, in exaggerated form.

It’s a clue to the reader, though we don’t find out what it means until later in the series. But this Ozymandias fight sequence, where he defends himself against a would-be assassin, is completely staged. Ozymandias, as the ultimate villain of Watchmen (if we can call him that), has hired someone to kill him, just so he could look like another potential victim of whoever killed Edward Blake. As we later learn, Ozymandias himself killed Blake, to protect his own nefarious-and-insane-if-well-intentioned plot.

That’s why the scene in this middle of this issue reads like typical superhero action. It’s completely phony. Yet, upon an initial reading, it would just seem surprisingly exciting.

Watchmen is good.

This is also the issue where things fall apart for Rorschach. He’s set up, the captured by the police, but his futile attempts to fight back and escape are confined to a nine-panel grid. He’s restrained, constricted, and can only lash out and his captors. As he jumps from a third story window (again, not in a splash page or even a large panel, just in 1/9th of the page) he’s no superhuman action star. Just a small man, tumbling to the ground awkwardly, kicked in the face by jackboots.

He doesn’t get a glorified action-packed scene where he looks like a hero. No, reality has crashed in upon him. Upon the genre.

The back-matter for this issue gives us the only non-Gibbons art in the entirety of Watchmen as we get an article about the real-life Joe Orlando and the fake history of pirate comics in this alternate reality. The essay mentions the disappearance of pirate comic writer Max Shea — an embedded clue relating to the global conspiracy — but it’s a winking piece by Moore (of the type he actually used to write for the U.K. fanzines) in which he gets to develop the history of comic book culture in the Watchmen world.

By itself, it almost justifies the repeated, in story, refrain of “Tales of the Black Freighter” – the pirate comic juxtaposed with the main Watchmen events throughout the series. But as a reader, I still find the Black Freighter stuff ineffective. I get the thematic parallels, and the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” kind of subtext it provides to the story. And I appreciate the absurd visuals, with the lone survivor atop a raft made of killer shark. But it’s difficult not to see the “Tales of the Black Freighter” excerpts as a diversion from the text of Watchmen even though it’s deeply embedded within it, written and drawn by Moore and Gibbons. Still, a diversion it remains, and if it’s one I understand from a thematic, structural perspective, it’s not one I particularly enjoy.

Watchmenis good, but it’s not always great.

Ah, what am I saying? It’s pretty great.


Watchmen #6 (DC Comics, February 1987)

And then there’s this: the story of Rorschach.

This story has its own kind of symmetry, with the ink blot in the opening scene recurring in the end, as Dr. Malcolm Long contemplates the abyss he’s stared too deeply into.

One of the conceits of this issue — a comic which never cuts away from Rorschach’s story — is that the deranged Walter Kovacs has confronted a reality so bleak that the only rational response was to become irrational, to become as uncompromisingly harsh as the world around him, and that unrelenting attitude ultimately infects his psychoanalyst. Dr. Long begins speaking in a halting, blunt manner, pulls himself away from humanity, and becomes, if not corrupted, then deeply changed by his interactions with his patient.

The conversion of Dr. Long is a bit of a failure, narratively, and it seems like a too-easy resolution for the issue. There’s really no need for it, since the impact of the loss of innocence revelations (and Walter Kovacs began his life far from grace) is more powerful on the reader. It’s the reader who needs to undergo a bit of a conversion, or at least self-reflection, as he or she finds out how Rorschach became Rorschach and all that it implies.

Until this issue, Rorschach was the unrefined costumed detective. He may have “narrated” large chunks of the story (via his journal entries) in extreme, purple prose, but so far, he’s the one who has been right about most things. He’s the madman who can see the truth that others ignore. The Shakespearean fool, but with only the blackest sense of humor and no self-awareness at all.

In this issue, we find out how he ended up that way, and in his interviews with the Doctor he reveals that he used to play the role of Rorschach, but it took a particular incident to turn him into Rorschach. His face is now the black viscous fluid in the synthetic white fabric of his mask. His identity as a human has been superseded by this vigilante persona he’s created.

This notion of the superhero identity — the mask — supplanting the humanity of the wearer has become a cliché since the time of Watchmen. Alan Moore probably wasn’t the first to address identity theory in the context of superhero comics, but through Watchmen he brought that kind of thinking to a mass audience, and it influenced every costumed superhero story that followed, whether the writers and artists directly addressed its influence or not.

But with Rorschach, Moore and Gibbons provide an unusual origin story. Unlike the typical vigilante hero, his parents were not murdered by criminals, nor was he a thrillseeker looking for adventure. Neither was he a late-night law enforcer or a protector of the streets.

He may have started out with some of those elements, but Walter Kovacs led a troubled life since childhood. He was raised by an abusive prostitute and violently bullied by his peers. He adopted the Rorschach identity, but not the persona, seemingly to give some kind of meaning to his life. To join some kind of righteous cause. He patrolled with Nite Owl. He helped keep the criminal underworld at bay. But a 1975 kidnapping case showed him how horrific the world really was, and the direct, unyielding, abrupt-speaking Rorschach was born.

Moore and Gibbons present a superhero who is only a superhero, only ever was a superhero, because he was psychologically damaged. And becomes most effective after he has gone insane.

Like Watchmen as a whole, the characterization of Rorschach turns the lens back into the genre itself, and reveals the pathology that has been underlying costumed superheroics all along.

What’s sad is that the writers inspired by Moore applied his approach to the likes of Batman (I think Moore’s Rorschach had more of an influence on late 1980s/early 1990s Batman comics than even Frank Miller’s landmark work with the character) and Green Arrow and Dr. Fate and dozens of other characters originally created for children.

The loss of innocence embodied in this issue affected far more than the characters in this one story.

Yet, with Rorschach, what are we left with? He’s still the most popular character from the series — his “I’m not locked up in here with you. You’re locked up in here with me” line to his fellow prisoners is practically a catchphrase in some circles. He’s deranged, grotesquely violent, and yet sympathetic because of his past and because he restricts his brutal rage to those who “deserve” it. He’s also the only character in the story who seems to be able to figure out what’s really going on. He’s positioned as the hero of the series for a huge chunk of it.

He’s a reactionary, ultra-violent vigilante, created by the ultra-liberal Alan Moore, perhaps as a commentary on the American superhero, but not in a mocking, dismissive way.

Rorschach, a completely appalling character by almost any standard, is the beating heart of Watchmen. And we’re locked up inside the nine-panel grid with him. Hurm.


NEXT: Watchmen Part 3, Where Plot Takes Over

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

j p
1. sps49

Rorschach- similar to RL people- may be borderline insane (he can function in society, barely), but that doesn't mean he can't think.

I don't think he would've been faked out of play as easily as Dr. Manhattan, for sure.

I must not really pay attention when I read- or at least, on a conscious level- because items like the clockwork nature of the Red Fortress of Solitude or your whole dissection of the assassin scene usually go unremarked on by me until someone else points it out.

Thank you.
David Goldfarb
2. David_Goldfarb
Rorschach doesn't entirely restrict his violence to those who deserve it. Right in issue #1 he breaks a man's finger; we have no reason to think that the man has done anything wrong.

(Another question: if his mask is made out of watertight latex, how does he breathe while wearing it?)

I'm not sure what you mean by saying that Ozymandias' fight scene "breaks free from the gridded structure of the rest of the series" -- those two pages have the exact same 9-panel layout as all the others. Notice how the panel of Ozy hitting the gunman is divided by the page gutter: any comic not using that rigid layout would have had it bleed across.

It is worth noticing that Ozymandias killing a man is at the center of issue #5, just as him killing a man is at the center of the overall plot. A definite clue, in retrospect; and Ozymandias' dialog at the time is just chock full of dramatic irony. ("...tell them I don't have any enemies.")

Just preceding that is one of Moore's best and funniest exchanges:

"The ancient Egyptians thought that death was the beginning of a voyage of spiritual discovery. Don't you find that a comforting thought?"
"Losing ten pounds is a comforting thought. My next raise is a comforting thought. Gloria Vanderbilt, MTV, these are comforting thoughts. Spiritual discovery, on the other hand, I can take or "
rob mcCathy
3. roblewmac
Rorsuch in prison is a scary comic with the racist news letter. I'VE come to think of Rorsach the charcter you'd like in ANY other comic. He's out there dealing justice. In a regular comic he's Punisher but you him in prison talking to A "fat weathly doctor who thinks understands pain" You start see just how scary he is"
and even though R never says anything overtly racist you can't get around his whole motiff being "black and white never touching and now his DOCTOR is black.
4. olethros
You can most definitely call Adrian the villain. Many moons ago, a friend and I went about 3 million rounds with another fella on the old DC message boards about this very issue - said fella insisted, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Veidt was the hero of the entire story because he wanted to save the world.
Risha Jorgensen
5. RishaBree
@4 - that Veidt was the hero of the entire story because he wanted to save the world.

...they had never heard that old saying about the road to hell? You can debate the ethics of exposing him vs. hiding the truth, but you really have to be reaching to think that Moore presented Veidt as anything other than a mass murderer.
6. scotty23
You can argue the whole Adrian villain or hero question forever and not come to a resolution. Some people think intentions matter more than results while others think results matter more than intentions. Neither type of person will ever be able to convince the other. It's a very fundamental worldview that most people have and they aren't shaken from it by discussion in a forum.
Emmet O'Brien
7. EmmetAOBrien
scotty@6: I'd argue that that is precisely what Moore is trying to do; that Ozymandias sincerely believes the only way to save billions involves killing millions and proceeds utterly pragmatically without worrying about whether it's good or evil because that's how he thinks (in deliberate and carefully elucidated contrast to Rorschach's absolutist morality, Dr. Manhattan's existential nihilism and the Comedian's moral nihilism) so arguing about whether it's good or evil is intentionally left as an exercise for the reader.

One of the things I like least about the film is it losing the key moments of Adrian Veidt's humanising doubt, which I think would be a better comment on the reread of the end of the series than here.
rob mcCathy
8. roblewmac
Ozzy is villian in my eyes but I don't think in Moore's I think the only person in the whole story who Moore NEVER let's you feel postitive about is Blake.
Other Alan Moore stuff IS about "beware the smartest man in the Room."
Captin Britian, From hell, swamp thing etc.
rob mcCathy
9. roblewmac
Ozzy is villian in my eyes but I don't think in Moore's I think the only person in the whole story who Moore NEVER let's you feel postitive about is Blake.
Other Alan Moore stuff IS about "beware the smartest man in the Room."
Captin Britian, From hell, swamp thing etc.
10. Eugene R.
I think that the "fearful symmetries" run very deep through all 3 of these issues. I would not disagree that Issue 4 is something of a digression, but I also think that Moore and Gibbons needed to get a "real" superhero origin into the story, and Dr. Manhattan is all kinds of "super-science" at its best. Clockwork mechanisms as symbols? How about Jon re-assembling himself, anatomical system by anatomical system, looking just like those transparent overlay sheets from a biology textbook?

Plus, I think that there is a very deliberate pairing of Ozymandias and Rorschach, which includes both of them having an absolutist morality based on good intentions, each having been driven crazy by having to face opponents that no amount of superheroics could defeat (Adrian, the nuclear apocalypse; Walter, the unending human desire to "sin"). Their sincerity is exactly what provokes us to admire them on some level, even as we recoil from their "black and white" worldviews. It's Rorschach's absolutism that leads to his "noble sacrifice" in refusing to accept Ozymandias's deal. And it's Ozymandias's absolutism that keys his humanizing doubt (noted by EmmetAOBrien, @7) and to the undermining of his whole reasoning (in my favorite bit of dialogue):

Adrian: I did the right thing, didn't I? It all worked out in the end.
Dr. M: "In the end"? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.

As for Adrian being crazy, well, we can argue it long and loud. I do think that Dave Gibbons believed Adrian to be insane, based on the maniacal expression he gave Ozymandias when we finally see him tossing Blake out of the window. Weren't no happy grin, that.
rob mcCathy
11. roblewmac
I have to say even the most favorable reading of Ozmadius says he lacks empathy. He feels worse about killing his pet than his attempt at killing doctor Manhatten
Dr Manhatten by the way is the best and worst thing in the movie
The good is Ozzy using doc power makes more sense than "oh wait there's a group of psionics in the last 40 pages.
The bad being you lose the feeling that doc is in fact no kidding GOD.
12. Jeff R.
Reading Watchmen in 1986 is, of course, a far, far different experience than reading Watchmen 1990-onward. Ozzy gets a good deal crazier and less smart when you know that Soviet Communism is destined to collapse on its own contradictions and have fully processed that when nobody wants a worldwide nuclear conflagration, it's surpassingly unlikely for one to actually happen. (The backmatter in #4 serves to directly analogize Dr. Manhattan with SDI: it's undenyable that Moore agreed fully with Ozzy's threat assessment, if not at all with his solution...)
Emmet O'Brien
13. EmmetAOBrien
roblewmac@11: Yeah, the other thing I least like about the movie is the ways it messes up the scale on which Dr. Manhattan is scary. I cannot see how anyone who can understand that well enough to keep the "God exists and he's American" line can have thought that Dr. Manhattan erasing soldiers in Vietnam was best represented by a Freddy Krueger gore-fest, rather than the kind of chilling that, say, the very end of 2001: A Space Odyssey does.
14. nbcabaniss
In regards to the back-up in issue 5, I've always felt that Max Shea's career as a game-changing comics writer who left the medium to become an acclaimed novelist was always a bit of wishful thinking on Moore's part and how he hoped his own writing career would go.
rob mcCathy
15. roblewmac
it's been a while since i've had watchmen in a liftable format but I always gloss over the black feighter bits.
16. The Mega Sage
Ozymandias killed millions of people with his squid from outer space, but an interesting and appropriate question to ask (though perhaps a better time will be when Tim reviews book 12) is simply, what if he was right? He is a mass murderer - not on the scale of Hitler, but up there - but as the book ends, we do see 'a brighter tomorrow'. Nations are working together. There is peace, if peace caused by a very elaborate prank.

In 1986 as presented in the Watchmen comics, the world is truly on the brink of nuclear war. Is the death of half the people in Manhatten (and a few artists) 'worth it' if an entire world is saved? Do you kill 1 innocent person to save 1000? I think that is a very powerful question, and if nothing else, Ozymandias decided to do something about it.
17. Graham T.
Joe McCulloch's examination of Steve Ditko's work a year or so back at ComicsComicsMag sheds some fascinating light on Rorschach as a character. The whole thing is worth reading, especially for the picture compairisons, but here's the relevant Watchmen parts. From:

"Only through an intense examination of Ditko’s work is it possible to appreciate exactly how thoroughly he was parodied by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in their seminal Watchmen, through the Question analogue character of Rorschach. For one thing, Moore takes the clipped manner of Ditko’s ‘abridged’ style of dialogue and hardens it a little into fuller sentences to make it sound like the rantings of a mentally ill person. Instead of proudly embodying the best in humanity as a crusading reporter, Rorschach parades around in his civilian guise declaring the end of the world, eventually submitting his work to a fringe right-wing magazine. His noir uniform is stained and filthy in a mockery of Mr. A’s clean white gear, so essential to embodying the white (good) vs. the black (bad).
"Moreover, in visual terms, the name Rorschach signifies a blend of white and black into a blot that can only be subjectively read – there is no place for Reason in that, much like how Rorschach’s mask constantly, inexplicably shifts in its blend of white and black, an unsteadiness more becoming of a Ditko villain, especially the new ones we’ve seen here.
"Granted, Rorschach is right about a lot of things going on in Watchmen, and he’s eventually dignified with a climactic glittering death, wiped from existence by Dr. Manhattan, the analogue to Captain Atom, Ditko’s very first superhero – the metaphor needs no major unpacking. Ditko, who contributed greatly to four of six primary Watchmen characters, would sink into the background as the superhero concepts he worked on adopted lives reactive to their societal context – ongoing adventures, which do tend to supplicate the Individual before the Collective that is continuity. How then, could a compassionate fellow like Moore not feel a little for Ditko? How could a now-decried iconoclast not admire that stick-to-your-guns steel that Ditko has lived, and that Rorschach/the Question/Mr. A embodies?
"Yet even at the end there is some sly satire. Rorschach tears off his
mask before Dr. Manhattan, revealing his tortured, teary-eyed face,
aghast at the compromises all of these Ditko characters have bought
into. His face is a Ditko face, but it’s the face generally reserved for
the initiators of Force and Fraud, the twisted, neurotic face of the
guilty. To put it on a Ditko hero is to show how upside-down the ‘real’
world can be."
Kevin Maroney
18. womzilla
The symmetrical structure extends to the series as a whole, in that
the structure reflects at the mid-point: The "origin" issues are 2, 4, 6 | 7, 9, 11, while the "story" issues are 1, 3, 5 | 8, 10, 12.

I couldn't disagree more about whether "Watchmaker" holds up to re-reading--I think it's one of the most powerful pieces in the entire book. Jon is distant from his emotions, trapped unmoving by his fatalism, but we are free to be moved for him.

roblewmac @9 "I think the only person in the whole story who Moore NEVER let's you feel postitive about is Blake": Not true. Rorschach feels sympathy for Blake at the end of his life; that's the whole point of the Paggliaci joke. And it's hard not to feel some sympathy for Blake when he tries to reach out to Laurie in the flashbacks in issue 9. Blake is probably the most monstrous figure in the story* but even monsters suffer.

*Okay, there's a long paragraph on whether Blake's petty, human-level cruelty and indifference is worse than Veidt's calculated mass-slaughter. It's worth noting the emotional affect of the collision between the two in Blake's apartment as seen in chapter 11--Blake beaten, emotionally and physically, and Veidt joyful and triumphant as he throws his bully out a 20th-floor window.

And roblewmac @ 11: Veidt feels sorrow for the death of Bubastis because in his reading of reality (that is, in his Plan Of Absolute Necessity), her death is both unplanned and unnecessary, while Jon's is both planned and necessary. Moore deeply distrusts those who would make plans for the lives and deaths of others, even as he understands the impulse. Veidt is prefigured by Adam Susan's soliloquy in the "Versions" chapter of V for Vendetta--"the war put paid to choice. The war put paid to freedom."
Kevin Maroney
19. womzilla
I meant to add, but this stands as a nice separate comment: One of the most interesting things about many of Moore's works from Watchmen on (especially Big Numbers and From Hell, but it's also very much in Promethea and Voice of the Fire, his novel/linked story collection) is that Moore is what I call a "scheme-head": he writes stories with elaborate, schematic structures and then sends the structures crashing down on the people who are trying to impose structure.
rob mcCathy
20. roblewmac
lots of thoughts
1. I was wrong there's more sympathy for Blake than I thought but not becuase R morn him. R is extreamly lonely and considered Blake a friend when blake considers R "nuts" Your millage may vary but all that did for me was make me feel badly for R
2. I think were we are suposed to feel bad for him is every time he sees Lurie. He's a monster he knows that but he's not happy "Sally's little girl" knows that.
3. the art in issuse 4 is one reason to buy the absolute edtion (but if you like me have only one good hand don't bother.
4 What do you all make of Rushach always calling Nite-owl Daniel? I think he really is trying to be a friend.
5 Moore gave Superman and the first nite-owl idetical lines when talking about why they love fixing cars.
6. More's pitch for Watchmen is funny if you ever pitched a comic the way Dc said you should at the time (smirk)
21. Jason Mehmel
I find it fascinating that many of my disagreements with Tim's conclusions end up enlightening me as to why I enjoyed the moments he finds less effective.

As an example:

RE: issue #4 , with all of its cleverness, is exactly what it needs to be, and if it were less clever, less crafted, we wouldn't accept John's choices as easily closer to the end of the story.

Also, the very idea of following a character who is outside of time, or who sees it without it's strict one-way linearity is fascinating. Even it if it wasn't part of the overall narrative, I would still find that chapter compelling. Moore's conceptual virtuosity here is similar to that of Swamp Thing's 'Loving the Alien' and I wonder if this divergence between Tim and I on that story, and this, show how we differ in what we look for in a story itself.

RE: issue #6. A quicker note; we need the doctor to become converted, because we need it to illustrate the difficulty of being a sane person in insane times. (Something we're also grappling with now.) Considering that the interview takes place over several days, even if it's only one issue, it didn't seem rushed to me. He's certainly a cipher for the reader, but not egregiously.

If you were to remove some of these 'unnecessary' bits, I'd say it would start to deform the crafted nature of the story; some of what seems superfluous now becomes important later, like I'd said with Dr. Manhattan, above.
rob mcCathy
22. roblewmac
I had forgotten much I like RORSUCH in 6 "I dont like you" Really how many times week have you wished you could say that?
Mike Marino
23. MinkyUrungus
It's always funny to me that the Objectivism-inspired character (however deranged) is the only one who most people can agree is actually right in many regards. This is despite the fact that he was handled by a writer who still doesn't understand the philosophy too well. (Many, many folks are guilty of this, too; I'm not crying about it.) All of the humanity-hatin' here made me have to say something.

I'm really liking this re-read though. I wish I was around to read it while it was first coming out.
Mike Marino
24. MinkyUrungus
And why did people think Rorschach was racist again? The black and white thing? *sigh*
26. 1961Blanchflower
Very belatedly joining a discussion that probably finished two years ago (but time is fluid right?). I have been thoroughly enjoying these articles and subsequent posts, and so far have only contributed once (then known as Sandman), in order to take issue with Tim's slight put-down of the wonderful "Pog" story in Swamp Thing.

Well here I am again. I could not let your dismissal of Watchmen 4 pass. To me this issue is the highlight of the series: the best issue of maybe the best series in comics history. It's a fascinating, intelligent, moving and engrossing tale, with a unique, fractured time-line, but so brilliantly constructed that it is never unclear what is happening; it's one of the best pieces of non-linear narrative I have read. I practically know it by heart, but will happily read it again and again.

Moore constructs something as clever and beautiful as the structure that Dr Manhattan builds, or the watch he takes apart. You never sense Moore is in anything but total control of his kaleidoscopic creation (just like the Doc).

Matching Moore step for step, Dave Gibbons produced career-defining work throughout Watchmen, and he too excelled/excels/will excel himself here.

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