Monday, January 2, 2012

Chapter I - page 1 + cover

Cover Image: As we will see in future issues, a common design element for each of the twelve chapters is that the cover image is always an extreme close-up of the first panel within the issue proper, essentially making the cover the first panel of each issue. Here we see a close-up of what will be one of the major recurring symbols throughout Watchmen – that of the smiley faced button with its spot of blood above the right eye.

Panel 1: Introduction to Rorschach through his journal. The initial statement: “Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach,” relates directly to a later issue in which we discover Rorschach’s origin and the incident that sent him over the edge to crazed vigilante.

We also see a storytelling technique that Moore & Gibbons use liberally throughout the book – though often for very different reasons. That is, a bit of dialogue is juxtaposed against the image in order to, among other things, heighten readers’ awareness of events, comment upon two varying scenes, or offer a bit of irony to the audience. In this case the statement: “I have seen its true face,” hangs just above the bloody smiley faced button in the gutter.

Panel 2: Again, the juxtaposition of dialogue and imagery, as Rorschach writes: “The streets are extended gutters . . . full of blood” over a scene focused on a gutter that is full of blood.

Also, note the first clue to Rorschach’s identity as his feet walk out of the journal entry into the blood, foreshadowing the bloody path down which he and his fellow “heroes” are about to tread.

Panel 3: First look at the man holding the “The End is Nigh” sign – whom I’ve seen dubbed the Doomsayer elsewhere but whose name we will discover is Walter Kovacs, alter-ego of Rorschach.

We also have more dialogue/imagery juxtaposition with Rorschach’s: “. . . I’ll look down and whisper ‘no.’ ”seen from a camera angle above the two men in the panel.

Panel 4: And more juxtaposition as we read Rorschach’s journal entry: “They could have followed in the footsteps of good men . . .” and see Kovacs’s bloody footprints lead away from the pool of blood.

Panel 5: The camera angle continues to pull back higher and higher as Rorschach writes: “. . . and didn’t realize that the trail led over a precipice . . .”

Also note our first clue as to who killed the Comedian. The large truck in front of the bloodstained sidewalk sports a pyramid within a circle, the corporate logo for Adrian Veidt’s companies.

Panel 6: The camera rises still higher as the pool of blood becomes nothing but a spot on the scenery below. Rorschach writes: “. . . the whole world stands on the brink, staring down into bloody hell . . .” which also foreshadows later events.

And the statement: “. . . nobody can think of anything to say.” carries over into

Panel 7: as an ironic comment on the detective’s flippant remark: “That’s quite a drop.”

This panel, and the slow pan away from the gutter in panels one through six, also highlights a visual theme for this issue, that of great heights (whether that of these skyscrapers or, figuratively, those heights to which the heroes once attained) and staring down into the abyss.

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