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Thread: In Which I Read Watchmen

  1. #1

    Default In Which I Read Watchmen

    So, how to preface this... Well first off, I know almost nothing about this series. There are characters named Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan, The Comedian, Nite Owl and Ozzy...Ozzysomething? I know zero about what they do, their personalities, anything like that.
    Also there are aliens.

    And that is the full extent of my Watchmen knowledge. It's one reason I'm so intrigued to read the series. It's very famous but I know so little of it. Which is all for the good since this seems like a series that requires your authentic reaction to developments and revelations.

    I have avoided reading Watchmen for a long time, in spite of being a comics fan for about ten years. It was just....TOO famous. TOO beloved. How could it ever live up to the hype?

    What got me to finally give it a chance was this post from another forum:
    Watchmen is basically a big long argument on utilitarian ethics, normative ethics or pragmatism, and moral absolutism. What's interesting is that despite Veidt's adherence to a antiquarian viewpoint he doesn't actually follow Nichomachean ethics. It questions the ethics of the actions of the people who would be "superheroes".

    Watchmen asks one question : "Was Veidt Right? "

    Basically, people who read the book generally come on one side of the equation of saying

    " Well yea, Veidt did what was necessary for the benefit of the many a few must suffer" which Jon agrees with (this is utilitarianism)

    " Veidt was a monster who killed millions of people, but he did save lives and while I don't agree with his actions I would not want him punished because that could result in the deaths of more people " Which Dan views as the solution (this is normative ethics and pragmatism)

    " Veidt is a monster what he did was wrong and he must be brought to justice" which is Rorschach's view. (moral absolutism)

    The whole book in a way can be seen as a ethics test for the reader and who you agree with says a lot about you as a person.
    I love fiction that helps me be introspective and understands myself a little bit more. Something as open-ended as Watchmen also leaves ample room for discussion, which is another thing I love about fiction. I love sharing ideas, impressions and views on the same series with other people. You really do grow as a fan by doing this.

    Oh and I have to mention, I got this and am reading it on Comixology. I smurfing LOVE their reader. The only other online reader I've used is Viz's and it's okay but this "Guided View" on CX is fantastic. It zooms in on relevant panels and speech bubbles and you just have to press Right Arrow and it goes to the next relevant panel and text and so-on. It works out really well for my eyesight.


    While I've never been active in Watchmen discussions for obvious reasons, I ahve heard people say Rorschach has an undeserved fandom of people who "don't get" the comic. First impressions are a bitch but having read his first few speech bubbles, it's hard to imagine a lot of people siding with them. troutting on politicians? Sure, everyone loves that. Attacking liberals and sex? Seems like something people reading a comic would take offense to.
    In any event, it's certainly a very...unique introduction to a protagonist. Vaguely reminiscent of Light Yagami. He starts DN talking about how the world is "rotten" and there are certain people making it rot who deserve to die.

    "Keene Act of 1977" allows only "government sponsored weirdos" to be active. Keep a note of that for later.

    The art really is superlative, though. I tend to like more modern comics art styles but this is really pretty and sets the atmosphere nicely.

    Ya know, maybe it's the weird mask and the kind of noir detective outfit but Rorschach makes me think of The Question. In my head when I read his dialogue, I hear JLU Question's voice but a bit rougher, growlier. Plus, Nite Owl did say she's paranoid, although the paranoid people tend to be right in these series.

    Rorschach: "Meeting with Veidt left bad taste in mouth. He's pampered and decadent, betraying even his own shallow, liberal affectations. Possible homosexual?"

    ...people like this guy?

    Man, I need to stop commenting so fast. Forget the homophobia, I just got the "rape = "moral lapses" scene. Oh boy. I have to say, I've neve rseen a series where its first installment did its best to make you hate the main character. Not even Light went bad this fast. It's like Moore has gone to every conceivable length to make him unappealing, all the way down to making him smell bad.

    Rorschach has mentioned this impending war and death a couple times now .Dunno if it's literal or not because the guy is a nutcase and no one selse seems worried about Armageddon being around the corner.

    And with the loving anecdote of how Rorschach dumped some masochistic loser down an elevator shaft, Watchmen #1 comes to a close. That is actually pretty funny. It be funnier if the rest of the issue didn't make it also tragically smurfed up.

    Overall, interesting enough. I can't see where this is going apart from this "Mask Killer" being a threat for some reason. I don't see this ties into the ethics debate as of yet but, well, there's a lot of comic to go.


    Also I should mention the impression I got from my vague readings of various Watchmen conversations over the years is that Dr. Manhattan was basically god, or the dictator of the world. First chapter doesn't seem to support that impression.

    I have a feeling this nice old lady will be the next hit. Maybe this Mask Killer is starting with the "old guard" first and working his way up. So these three Minutemen are the first to go.

    I dig the flashback to the Minutemen in their prime. I can't figure out if Sally is disguising her Polish ancestry because of shame or for security. And I really should have seen where the flashback was going. I now dig it much less.

    So I guess this is the flashback chapter. That's neat. Thank you Dr. Manhattan for winning Vietnam for us.
    ...wait, is that a good thing?

    Comedian's "Moral Lapses" count at two, possibly three. Rape, probably another and then murder of a pregnant woman. I'm unsure of what to make of Dr. Manhattan, though. As the the only one who looks inhuman, I also read his dialogue in a sort of inhuman way, too. Like his condemnation of what Blake did to that poor woman I read it as a sort of mildly reproachful and almost thoughtful tone. It was not the flat horror or outrage anyone else would experience, maybe like he was going through the motions of being disapproving. But if he was a true psycho like Blake, he wouldn't even go through the motions. I feel like he's...uncertain or confused more than anything.

    What's happened to the American dream?
    It came true. You're looking at it.

    Hey, Comedian said something smart.

    I'm interested in hearing about this kidnapping that apparently drove Rorschach crazy, though.

    Some sort of weird smurfed up island that scared even The Comedian. Interesting. I wonder what could be happening there.

    Rorschach hearing the old man - Moloch - out and not killing him makes me respect our protagonist more. He's not as evil or crazy as I thought. I figured him for a "you littered? Death" or "reformed? You never reform so die" type.

    It was indeed a pretty good joke and a fine way to end the chapter.

    Overall, much better chapter than the first one. The flashbacks firmly establish what a monster Blake was and then we see him reduced to a gibbering mess by something so horrible he can't even fathom it. Really invests you in the mystery of this "island." Rorschach also became far rmore bearable.


    So far Doc Manhattan and Laurie are my favorite characters. Doc is so...alien and bizarre but it feels like he's trying, bless him. And Laurie is of course struggling with living with someone so alien, not to mention her complicated relationship with her mother. Basically the most human character and the most inhuman character at this point. I think they make a great and fascinating pair. It was probably intentional.

    "I just don't nuh-know anybody else! I don't know anybody except goddammed suh-super-heroes!"

    Line seems hilarious but maybe also poignant. Knowing superheroes would be a good thing in other comics, after all.

    Doc Manhattan himself is actually an alien? The one news person said he's from "outta space." Maybe they're full of it. Earlier on somebody said he's an H-Bomb.

    Well I could see where this was going a mile away with the whole Jon gives them cancer thing. I'm mostly just interested in if he's aware of it. And from his facial expression, apparently not. It's the first bit of emotion I've seen from our hero.

    So if you don't know me and how I tend to do these things, I say a lot less if I'm engrossed. I don't want to waste time typing and break off from reading when I'm so thoroughly captivated. Chapter III was the best chapter BY FAR at this point. I told you, Manhattan was my favorite character but there was also the neat Black Freighter stuff and that ending which was absolutely perfect.

    Now, how the hell does any of this play into Rorschach's theory of a Mask Killer or the stuff about an island? I have no friggin' clue. Maybe Rorschach is just plain wrong. I don't see any place for a superhero killer in this story, or even a need for one. The island stuff I'm sure will be explained and is real, though.

    But yeah, the world rests on the brink of destruction. That's one thing Rorschach was right about.

    Finally, let me say again that this Guided View thing is amazing. It adds a whole new dimension to the comic storytelling. We're told it all rests in the hands of a higher power, we see Doc Manhattan on Mars and then the final "shot" as presented by Comixology's Reader is

    Man...atmosphere. It's all about immersion and sucking you in and Chapter 3 did that in a way the previous two chaptrs didn't.

    And I think I will stop there for now. I don't want to rush this. It's only 12 chapters I think. I could read that in one sitting but man, that would would ruin everything I think.

    I bought the Ultimate Cut Collector's Edition blu-ray too. It's being shipped to me presently, though. It comes with the physical graphic novel which is neat as I'll actually own a piece of history. Plus I do want to see the film and compare it and stuff. Also the box for the CE looked snazzy.

  2. #2
    Lovely Gal Cid's Knight Night Fury's Avatar
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    Ozymandias is the name you're looking for.

    I love Watchmen, love the book and I think Moore is a genius. That said I wasn't too big on the film - I think it lacked a bit of direction, but in the movie Jackie Earle Haley blew me away.

    I might have to pull this off the shelf though and re-read it. There's so much to take in. I'm glad you're enjoying it! It's a work of art

    Rorschach relatedThe reason I find Rorschach so interesting is because he has such a strong sense of morality, but his actual past and traumatisation turned him into a violent monster that just makes him a completely vicious vigilante - making his own sense of morality seem actually pretty skewed when you look at it.
    Last edited by Night Fury; 07-02-2016 at 10:37 PM.

  3. #3
    Resident Critic Ayen's Avatar
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    I'm gonna have to focus on one thing again for the sake of my brain.

    From what I understand you're coming at this from an objective outlook. You have no emotional bias towards the work. You never seen these characters before. You have no likes, no dislikes. You're in the perfect position to create a new form of discussion out of something many accept has been talked about to death. Your entire post demonstrate this fact, and the more we read, the more we're challenged to change our perspectives and think differently.

    The quote you provided asks the question which person is right, but this is creating an illusion. A limitation. What if none of them are right? What if there's a new scenario to get a different result that hasn't been explored yet. If so, what are they, how can we create them, and how can we implement them? Thus changing what we understand of the work. Creating an entirely new form of discussion out of something old. What old is new again.

    What if every piece of fiction is introspective? What is introspection?

  4. #4
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Watchem was a great graphic novel. Like you, I waited to read the series until long after everything. Yeah, it's definitely a search into ethics, but its also a nice deconstruction of comic book super heroes, with some interesting commentary on the fans of said comics. It created such an interesting "what if" to everything. I enjoyed the book, even if it was a bit long winded in a few places, but overall I can see why people praise it so much.

    Fun fact: the Book was originally going to be a Justice League story before DC decided not to have Moore do this to some of their beloved characters, so Moore ended up creating the whole cast to tell the story, yet it's obvious that many of the heroes of Watchmen are expies of popular DC heroes.

  5. #5
    Feel the Bern Del Murder's Avatar
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    Watchmen is great. Some fascinating characters. My favorite thing is that this is a group made up of basically normal people in costumes with no real powers, then you have one guy who has basically ultimate power. Nice contrast, and yeah it's obvious that some of these have their JLA counterparts.

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  6. #6


    So, reading the autobiography stuff at the back of 1-3...

    I really like this paragraph:
    "Yes we were crazy, we were kinky, we were Nazis, all those things that people say. We were also doing something because we believed in it. We were attempting, through our personal efforts, to make our country a better and safer place to live in. Individually, working on our separate patches of turf, we did too much good in our respective communities to be written off as mere aberrations, whether social or sexual or psychological."

    I think Hooded Justice is my favorite Minutemen. I've liked him ever since he beat the trout out of The Comedian but I didn't comment on it because I didn't think he'd ever come up again. He has the best outfit, by far.

    I wonder what happened to Laurie to make her so jaded. Hollis says she wanted nothing else but to be a hero when she grew up. Maybe she just grew out of it.

    But now..ON WITH THE STORY!


    Ya know, I get what Moore is saying through Jon's father but it still just makes the guy look like a complete loon. I don't think tha twas the intention, though. He's just supposed to be waxing philosophical.

    So this is the Doc Manhattan - this is Jon's - backstory. As he is my favorite thus far, this is very welcome to me.

    Jesus, radioactive goo origin stories can be pretty horrible but I think Manhattan's is especially smurfed up. The disintegration was bad enough but I'm thinking of all his failed attempts to put himself back together. Nightmarish.

    I wasn't really certain if all his jumbles times and dates was a weird storytelling device to show how confused he is or if he could actually see the future somehow. It looks it is the latter. Although how much of the future can he really see? Do the cancer allegations prove that false or are they themselves false? I wonder.

    To my eyes, we haven't seen much overall worldbuilding in the technical sense as of yet. Bits of scattered info here and there but this chapter, in addition to Manhattan's bakstory, seems to be setting the stage for what kind of climate the world is in with its technology. Well, mainly the American world, I suppose. Highly advanced eugenics, electric cars, Nixon being able to be president for a third term.... It's very interesting. I had heard a lot about the "World of Watchmen" before starting to read the comic but it felt so much more like a character story with the background not being all that exciting or different. I was mistaken. I hear one thing the movie misses is establishing jus twhat kind of world Watchmen takes place in. Dunno if that's true or not.

    So I wonder if this trend will continue with each chapter being better than the last. This was excellent. Tragic, mysterious, exquisitely told and drawn. I wonder what drove Jon to become what he did. Was it knowing the future? Was it the pain of his transformation? Was it a feeling of abandonment because Janey walked away as he was about to die? All or none of the above? Maybe it has no clear answer. All I know is that Watchmen Chapter IV reinforces my feelings he is the best character in this series. He's def my favorite at present.

    I do have to wonder when Ozymandias will come into play. In all Watchmen discussions I se over the years ,he figures more prominently than anyone except Rorschach. Yet he's barely been in the series thus far.


    I hope Laurie shacking up with Dan wasn't supposed to come off as in any way accidental. "Oh, I have no money and nowhere to turn in the world. Whatever shall I do?!! Well...see ya." Far from being a hero, Nite Owl II would have been a sociopath not to take the hint.

    I can see why people like Rorschach. He has twice now said "is everyone crazy except me?" and then immediately proven he's probably crazier than everyone else.

    Wait, what? The guy on the raft of corpses and stuff is relevant to the main story? Or is this "raw shark" thing a red herring? I'm all confused. I thought the Black Freighter/raft/whatever story was just some...I dunno, stylistic or thematic touch. I didn't think it was actually happening or whatever. But right after the latest entry, "raw shark" tips the cops off to Rorschach. I'm baffled.

    I liked the last issue more. It made more sense. So much for continually escalating quality. Oh well.


    Give this doctor a medal for his sheer incompetence. Poor lil' Rorschach, though. It wasn't what I expected when Polokun told me he had a good reason to be so strongly anti-sex. This is a much more interesting and tragic explanation.

    "Black and white, moving, changing shape...but not mixing. No gray."

    I like when subtext is just text.

    Wow, they have redeemed the doctor character. I get the feeling he did start off as looking at Rorschach as just a meal ticket but now he's generally trying to help and learn. I respect that Moore didn't make him some really valid point and i'm impressed by your thinking. or whatever.

    Back in Chapter I Rorschach criticized Veidt for his "liberal affectation." I cannot help but think that was hypocritical now. It feels to me like what Rorschach has is a conservative affectation. He didn't like Blake because he was an American patriot, he liked The Comedian because they were alike. They were two nihilists who looked at the human condition and accepted what they perceived there. I find it hard to believe Rorschach has any sincere love for the US or anything like that because the US is still run by human beings.

    And fittingly enough, it ends with a Nietzsche quote.

    I will admit, it made me like Rorschach more. Or perhaps, to understand him more is the better phrasing. I suppose the good doctor is almost a stand-in for the reader. As he is sucked into Rorschach's world and mind, so are we. In a way it was just as good as the Doc Manhattan chapter but they are very different stories for very different men.

    I also got my Watchmen Ultimate Cut box. It's very nice. Still have six more issues to read before I can watch it, though. I didn't expect it here so soon.

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