Making Small Talk with Rorschach – Watchmen #6

The cover to Watchmen #6
Get yer mind out of the gutter!

From Series: Watchmen

What Happened:

Rorschach (Walter Joseph Kovacs) is in jail and this is going to go GREAT.

The issue is told from the perspective of his psychiatrist, Dr. Malcolm Long, who is more interested in Rorschach on a publicity level. Hoping to make a reputation on his work with this patient, Dr. Long’s notes focus on Rorschach’s appearance and take everything he says at face value. Turns out ol’ splotch face is holding a lot back from Dr. Long at first.

While Rorshach is having flashbacks of discovering his mother prostituting herself and causing permanent bodily harm to neighborhood boys who insult him, Dr. Long is only hearing about pretty butterflies and flower. Things are going pretty good from his point of view. At home he even has sex with his wife (Gloria Long)! What a great day.

Turns out sex is an all night event (how would I know?) and Dr. Long is really sleepy when he next interviews Rorschach. During this meeting, Rorschach details where the “Rorschach” persona came from. Originally it was just a mask he made out of a dress. He hated to touch the dress because women’s clothing is for women and ghouls alone. The fabric of the dress had ink between two thin layers, creating the moving black splotches. Rorschach thought it looked pretty so he sewed it into a face and put it in his car trunk.

Look, I don’t have to explain what a person does with pretty things. We all know.

After hearing of a woman who was raped, tortured, and killed while witnesses did nothing and watched, Rorschach decided people are awful. Granted, the world is a little more complicated than that, but hard to find fault in his analysis of the situation. From here he decided he should put on a scarf and hat and beat up criminals. Dr. Long thinks that’s a little extreme but Rorschach calls him a bad person which really rains of Dr. Long’s parade.

That night they both have separate trials! Rorschach almost gets stabbed but instead horribly burns his attacker’s face with cooking fat. Meanwhile Dr. Long doesn’t have sex with his wife. What a bad day.

At their next meeting, Rorschach spills the beans about when he spilled the dog brains. This was the case which made Rorschach put away the persona of Kovac and only behaved as Rorschach. The event was when, searching for a missing girl he promised to return to her parents, Rorschach discovers she was butchered and fed to some dogs. So he kills the dogs, then waits for the man who did the butchering and kills him as well. He considers all the time spent before this as “being soft” on the criminal element.

Rorschach’s influence on Dr. Long continues to grow as he ruins a perfectly fine dinner with his wife and another couple. Now, it’s never stated anywhere in the comic, but I also assumed the other couple were swingers visiting the Long’s for a wife swap situation. This has nothing to do with Watchmen, or the quality of its story but I just wanted to get that down somewhere: Dr. Long bummed out a open marriage couple so much they decided to bounce.

Dr. Long’s wife leaves him after this and he endures a nightmarish second night without having sex with her. Never had I felt such sympathy for a character. The secret hero of the story?

What I Learned From This Comic:

Ink blots always look like either a flower, or a butterfly, or a dog’s head split open with a meat clever.

The Creators:
Writer: Alan Moore
Penciler, Inker, Letterer & Cover Artist: Dave Gibbons
Colourist: John Higgins
Executive Editor: Dick Giordano
Editors: Len Wein & Barbara Kesel

On Mars, Naked – Watchmen #4

The cover to Watchmen #4
Behold: The very first instance of littering on Mars.

From Series: Watchmen

What Happened:

Doctor Manhattan (Jon Osterman) is a jerk and is destined to be a jerk but knows ahead of time that he’ll be a jerk. His non-linear temporal existence is a pretty convenient excuse for living for “Numbah One” and “Numbah One” only. (Doctor Manhattan would be “Numbah One” in this case).

This is a wacky, out of order issue. So I’m going to describe the events which occur in it by when they happen chronologically rather than when they happen in the issue’s story.

Jon Osterman is a kid who just wants to build and repair watches like his dad: he’s a boring, awful kid. When his dad hears about nuclear technology he decides his whole life has been dumb and doesn’t want his son to follow in his dumb footsteps. He forces Jon to pursue the nuclear sciences.

Osterman gets a fancy scientist job where he plays with a bunch of rooms which can rip human beings apart. For science! The rooms have doors which close sometimes without warning! For science! The doors have no handle to open them back up! It’s a fun place for fun people and also people who enjoy the thrill of murder. At this dream job for people who like to work amounts high-risk/low-reward janitorial employees, Doc meets his future girlfriend Janey Slater. They date for a while until Osterman has a silly day at his job at the “Fragility of Human Life Laugh Factory” and gets ripped apart in one of those zany rooms that can kill anyone.

ANYONE. At ANYTIME.

He is probably the 29th guy who died in one of those rooms THIS WEEK.

When Osterman returns days later he only remembers to rebuild certain parts of himself. We can relate. You know when you leave the house sometimes and get to the car only to look down and realize you’re only made of veins and eyeballs? Forgot the bones! Forgot the skin! Forgot the shoes! Real human moment for Doctor Manhattan. Makes him seem more like us.

After he learns how to rebuild his whole body, Osterman gets the codename Doctor Manhattan and starts working for the government as the world’s first super hero. He fights wars. Vietnam is ended really quickly because he can make himself into a giant blue dude in underpants and that kind of sucks the conviction out of any enemy soldier.

He continues to date Janey Slater while knowing he’ll eventually leave her because she grows old while he stays a timeless bald guy. He leaves her when he meets Laurie Juspeczyk (Silk Spectre II) at the failed first Crime Busters meeting. She’s too young for a drivers license and he’s an atomic god so eyebrows are raised on every face. Eeevery face.

Then of course we get to the events of the previous issues, where Laurie leaves him. Afterwards, Doctor Manhattan freaks out when he learns that just by being around them he has given people he cares for incurable cancer (he could probably cure it, but doesn’t seem interested in that option). So he leaves for Mars (instead of curing the cancer) where he stares wistfully at a picture of himself and Janey Slater before the accident which gave him his powers. Then, he builds a glass city on Mars for his new home.

What I Learned From This Comic:

The solution to the Vietnam War was in front of us the whole time!

The Creators:
Writer: Alan Moore
Penciler, Inker, Letterer & Cover Artist: Dave Gibbons
Colourist: John Higgins
Executive Editor: Dick Giordano
Editors: Len Wein & Barbara Kesel

Watchmen #3 Bonus Material!

A photo from Chapter 5 of Under The Hood featuring Hooded Justice and who Nite Owl thinks is his secret identity.
Take the Pepsi challenge. See if you can tell the difference.
From Series: Watchmen

Under The Hood, Chapters V

What is it:

The autobiography of Hollis Mason, the first Nite Owl.

What Happened:

Hollis Mason (The first Nite-Owl) goes further into the changing times and how they affected the world of the costumed adventurer. According to him, the biggest clue that their time in the limelight was over was when the manager of The Minutemen, Larry Schexnayder married Silk Spectre (Sally Jupiter) and stopped working for the team. He was the only thing getting them all those… deals?

Wait, what does a manager of a super hero team do anyway? Did he get them sponsering local businesses on commercials? Why would a super hero team need a manager? This is confusing…

Anyway.

The need for super heroes went away too as villains became fewer and less likely to dress in silly costumes. Plus, the villains who remained were either more likely to make their money in the shades of gray of commerce or really dug their heels when it came to being evil monsters. Hollis recounts investigating cases which still trouble him to this day.

The Comedian (Eddie Blake) was the only member of the team who managed to prosper during the McCarthy era. His military service and reputation as a war hero meant he was in no trouble with the government when they started demanding all the masked men to be unmasked. Hollis, a police officer was also OK. The other remaining team members were less so.

Hollis theorizes that the stress of the hearings are what led Mothman (Byron Lewis) to start drinking, a path that ended with him in a mental hospital.

Hooded Justice refused to unmask and disappeared. Most assume he just stopped putting on the costume and was able to blend back into the rest of the population. A nifty trick of a secret identity. Contrary to that, Hollis thinks that Hooded Justice was the circus strongman Rolf Müller. Müller disappeared around the same time as Hooded Justice, only to be identified as a dead body which washed up from a river. The corpse was killed by a shot through the head. Many believe that Müller was a communist who tried to run away from investigations only to be killed by his own superiors.

But really, no body knows anything about the situation. It’s all guess work and hearsay and exciting fiction. Even Hollis admits this. You’ve got to follow the logic and go with the most likely scenario. Hooded Justice and Rolf Müller were probably not the same person, but instead IDENTICAL TWINS.

The final nail in the coffin of the first round of costumed adventurers was the birth of Doctor Manhattan (Jonathan Osterman). His super powers left zero need for dudes in underpants to fight anyone except for entertainment (Pro wrestling, I’m looking at you).

Hollis describes his retirement as one he’s proud of. He gets to work on old car engines again and has started mentoring the next man to use the name of Nite-Owl.

The Creators:
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Dave Gibbons
Colourist: John Higgins
Executive Editor: Dick Giordano
Editors: Len Wein & Barbara Kesel

Watchmen #3

The cover to Watchmen #3.
Gonna be in here for a while. We gotta ration. Everyone can only fart once a day.
From Series: Watchmen

What Happened:

Three issues in and it’s time to meet the star character of Watchmen, the grumpy newsstand salesman Bernard! Bernard grumbles and lectures about the state of the world to an audience of nobody, even though there is another human present. That human is Bernie the comic book kid! Another classic character finally arriving to amp up the thrilling adventures of the Watchmen cast. Comic book kid is reading a scary comic book about pirates.

Then that fuddy-duddy Rorschach (Walter Joseph Kovacs) shows up in his civilian identity asking for some tabloid newspapers. He creeps everyone out because he thinks the world is going to end today. Bernard humors him… then… oh ho ho!… he is startled by Rorschach’s antics and spits out his coffee!! Oh dear! Looks like that kooky Rorschach is up to his old tricks!

Laurie Juspeczyk (The Silk Spectre II) is getting ready for some sexy time with her boyfriend Doctor Manhattan. Her sex drive slams into a tree on the side of the road when she realizes Doctor Manhattan is using his powers to make two of himself for Laurie. Laurie is not cool with this. She is even less cool when she finds a third Doctor Manhattan in his lab doing experiments while the other two were getting ready to take her to some futuristic version of the Bone Zone. What could this Bone Zone of tomorrow bring? Maybe it has those tubes that suck people around the city? Maybe everyone is flying in jetpacks? We’ll never know because Laurie isn’t down for being blasted by clones of her boyfriend.

Wait, now ex-boyfriend!

Breaking up with Doc Manhattan, Laurie goes to the only other person she can think of talking to, Nite-Owl II (Daniel Dreiberg). Daniel does his best to comfort her, but she starts feeling guilty that he’s being kept from visiting his friend, the first costumed crime-fighter to call himself Nite-Owl, Hollis Mason. So they walk together only to be mugged. Since, Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II are super heroes, the mugging really isn’t that much of a problem and they manage to beat up the criminals.

In the meantime, Doctor Manhattan shows up to a televised interview. He starts out doing an OK job, until a reporter who has been in communication with his ex girlfriend Janey Slater reveals that everyone he’s every been close to has died of cancer. This revelation causes Doctor Manhattan to panic and teleports the entire studio audience away. Doc Manhattan then teleports himself to Mars to be left alone.

While this is happening, things get worse for the world. The Russians have invaded Afghanistan and the US is starting to weigh the option of a nuclear retaliation. This would destroy most of the east coast.

What I Learned From This Comic:

Kids love old man hats.

The Creators:
Writer: Alan Moore
Penciler, Inker, Letterer & Cover Artist: Dave Gibbons
Colourist: John Higgins
Executive Editor: Dick Giordano
Editors: Len Wein & Barbara Kesel

Watchmen #2 Bonus Material!

Moloch The Mystic from Chapter 4 of Under the Hood.
A magician. Scary? No. Able to ruin a birthday party? Yes.
From Series: Watchmen

Under The Hood, Chapters III & IV

What is it:

The autobiography of Hollis Mason, the first Nite Owl.

What Happened:

Nite Owl’s (Hollis Mason) autobiography continues to explain the beginnings of the costumed adventurer. He details the course of three months when he trained enough at the Police Gymnasium where he felt confident to go on patrol the first time. His super hero identity was earned from a coworker who ironically called him a “Night Owl” after Hollis continued to go to bed early instead of hanging out at the bar. He designed his costume around this name. The costume has bare legs, and Hollis’ excuses for them are pretty weak if you ask me. I suspect the dude just wanted to flaunt his tree trunks.

It was the agent of the career conscious super heroine Silk Spectre who managed to reach out to the other costumed heroes in order to form a team. The Comedian (Eddie Blake), The Silhouette (Ursula Zandt), Mothman, Hooded Justice, Dollar Bill, Captain Metropolis (Nelson Gardner), Silk Spectre, and Nite Owl all joined forces to become The Minutemen. The military minded Captain Metropolis formed the team as a strategic step towards fighting crime. Other members had different intentions.

Nite Owl pretty admits everyone who dressed up in a costume to fight crime was a weirdo. Either they did it for psychological or sexual reasons. Also some of them were Nazis. So, you know, truth justice and the American way and all.

The team started to fall apart first when The Comedian attempted to rape Silk Spectre. He was stopped by Hooded Justice, but Silk Spectre’s agent convinced her to not press charges. So The Comedian got away with attempted rape. Later he went on to become a war hero.

Jeez.

Then Silhouette’s real name along with the details of her lesbian relationship were revealed. Again, Sally’s agent makes a decision and convinces the team to drop her in order to avoid bad publicity. Sally’s agent! Real stand up guy! Silhouette and her girlfriend were later found dead in their home at the hands of one of her enemies. Good thing The Minutemen avoided and bad publicity.

Dollar Bill was killed trying to protect one of his employer’s banks. The cape in the costume they designed for maximum advertising exposure got caught in a revolving door and he was shot to death.

Sally got married to her swell agent and had a kid (Laurie!).

Finally, the march of time finished the remainder of the team off. Villains who were originally robing banks for profit found it easier to make money through fraud and subterfuge, which made the punch-throwing heroes obsolete. They quit the Minutemen.

The Creators:
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Dave Gibbons
Colourist: John Higgins
Executive Editor: Dick Giordano
Editors: Len Wein & Barbara Kesel

Watchmen #1 Bonus Material!

A picture from Under The Hood Chapter 1. This appears in Watchmen #1.
All your favorite characters! Handsome Man! Spider Shoulder! Black Hole Soles! And The Driver!
From Series: Watchmen

Under The Hood, Chapters I & II

What is it:

The autobiography of Hollis Mason, the first Nite Owl.

What Happened:

Hollis Manson (Nite Owl) spends a lot of time in his book talking about how he doesn’t know how to write a book. Then he talks about the person he asked “How do I write a book?”. Then he talks about her answer. He ignores her advice and decides to write about all that I just said FIRST. Then he puts what she suggests to put first in the book second.

He tells the story of his dad’s boss Moe Vernon. Long story short: Moe finds out his wife had been cheating on him for two years while wearing fake boobs as opera music blared behind him. This made everyone, including Hollis and his father, laugh at him. They apologize and he forgives them but then commits suicide that night.

The next story he tells is about how he loved super heroes but didn’t want to be seen reading comic books. So he would borrow the comics he saw kids reading. Then when he heard about the first real super hero, Hooded Justice, Hollis realizes what his true job is.

The Creators:
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Dave Gibbons
Colourist: John Higgins
Executive Editor: Dick Giordano
Editors: Len Wein & Barbara Kesel

Watchmen #1

The cover to Watchmen #1
It takes less muscles to smile than to frown and you’ll need to use less muscles because you lost a lot of blood.
From Series: Watchmen

What Happened:

Two detectives are going over a homicide from the previous night. A man named Eddie Blake, who worked for the government, was assaulted and thrown out a window. Because Blake is a very large and physically fit dude, the detectives decide this must have been done by multiple assailants rather than just one. Flashbacks to the night of the murder do not reveal the identity of the killer but do show it was actually done by one man. So this one man must be extraordinary.

The cops want to keep the murder hush-hush because Rorschach (Walter Joseph Kovacs) is a creep and they don’t want him involved. Too late though because Rorschach is on the case!

Rorschach discovers Blake was the costume adventurer The Comedian (Eddie Blake). He respects The Comedian because besides himself, Blake was the only costumed hero to never retire. Just to clear things up, Rorschach is a psychopath with a god complex and The Comedian killed people for the government. But they never quit doing what they loved for a regular day job!! So: respect.

Not believing the murder to be political or coincidental, Rorschach is worried that a costumed hero killer is on the lose. He visits his old partner Nite-Owl II to warn him. Nite-Owl II (Daniel Dreiberg) comes home from visiting the original Nite-Owl (Hollis Mason) for a weekly get together and is at the VERY LEAST really grossed out by how loudly Rorschach is eating beans in his kitchen. He is also probably a little worried a madman is in his house.

Rorschach steals sugar cubes from Nite-Owl II. SO MUCH FOR YOUR MORAL SUPERIORITY.

Rorschach also visits Ozymandias (Adrian Alexander Veidt), who managed to spin his career as a super hero into a successful business when the government forced all the heroes to retire. Rorschach is really worried that Ozymandias is gay and makes a note to look further into this later. Spoiler: there is never a scene in this comic series where Rorschach watches and takes notes of Ozymandias having sex, which is its one flaw probably.

Rorschach then warns the lone super powered individual in the world Doctor Manhattan (Jonathan Osterman) and his girlfriend the Silk Spectre II (Laurie Juspeczyk). Doctor Manhattan is a literal god among men and is pretty chill with the idea of death. Laurie on the other hand is pleased as punch that The Comedian died, since the man raped her mother when they were both on the same super hero team. She isn’t going to be shedding any tears over his murder.

Alone, Laurie realizing she hasn’t hung out with anyone besides her glowing blue electric boyfriend for a while. She calls Nite-Owl to see if he’s down to catch up over dinner. He’s down. They hang. They talk about the old times and Laurie admits she prefers to not be a super hero. Nite-Owl agrees but he doesn’t look convinced.

What I Learned From This Comic:

Dave Gibbons didn’t want to draw a wiener in the first issue.

What I Learned From This Issue:

Writer: Alan Moore
Penciler, Inker, Letterer & Cover Artist: Dave Gibbons
Colourist: John Higgins
Executive Editor: Dick Giordano
Editors: Len Wein & Barbara Kesel