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 #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 #2

The cover to Watchmen #2
Don’t cry for me, Statue. Save your tears to wash off the bird poop.
From Series: Watchmen

What Happened:

Silk Spectre II (Laurie Juspeczyk) visits her mother in California while her boyfriend Doctor Manhattan (Jonathan Osterman) attends a funeral. Her mother, the first Silk Spectre (Sally Jupiter), seem to have differing opinions on the attentions of men their superhero careers received. Sally is pretty relaxed about the whole thing to the point where she thinks evidence of her own clown focused Rule 42 is cute. Laurie thinks it is yucky.

It is clown porn so it is yucky. Laurie is correct.

Laurie didn’t attend the funeral because it was for Eddie Blake (The Comedian), who was just murdered. Blake had a reputation for doing very terrible things through out his life including the rape of Laurie’s mom Sally. Sally doesn’t understand why people should hold grudges about things like that. Like I said: different opinions.

At the funeral, people remember all their warmest memories of Blake. Ozymandias (Adrian Alexander Veidt) remembers when all the superheroes were called upon to start a new team with the aging Captain Metropolis (Nelson Gardner). Blake laughs at Captain Metroplis’ plans (then burns them). According to Blake everyone will be dead from nuclear bombs soon anyway. This sort of takes the wind out of everyone’s sails and they all decide not to join. The last thing Ozymandias remembers is Captain Metropolis pleading to the exiting recruits “Someone has the save the world!”.

This is probably insignificant.

The super-powered Doctor Manhattan remembers being in Vietnam with Blake during the end of the war, which was won largely because of Doc Manhatty’s involvement. Blake jokes about all the horrible things he’s done then kills a pregnant woman. Blake points out that even though Doctor Manhattan asked him to stop, he could have also used his powers to easily protect the woman. So… Doctor Manhattan’s starting to not care about humans.

Nite Owl II (Daniel Dreiberg) remembers quelling the riots in New York City with The Comedian during a police strike. Blake enjoyed using tear gas and rubber bullets on the protestors way too much for Nite Owl’s comfort.

A stranger leaves flowers at The Comedian’s grave which is noticed by an undercover Rorschach (Walter Joseph Kovacs). Rorschach follows him home and confronts him as Moloch The Mystic, a long time enemy of The Comedian’s. Unfortunately for Rorschach’s murder investigation, Moloch had nothing to do with Blake’s death. He does tell Rorschach about a recent night when Blake broke into his house rambling madly about something terrible coming. Blake mentioned artists, writers, and an island he discovered but not much more.

Rorschach then goes to Blake’s grave after the funeral to pay respects. He then steals a rose from the flowers left there because Rorschach is a moral absolutist.

What I Learned from This Comic:

Nothing’s funnier than a gimp mask.

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 #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