Thursday, January 5, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter I - page 4


Panel 1: The Knot-tops are a kid gang that exists in this alternate reality.  KT-28s and ‘Luudes (quaaludes) are illegal narcotics, as noted in this comment for the complete Chapter 1 annotations.   

Panel 2: Juxtaposition: “A lot of crazy things happen in a city this size.” overlaid on the image of Edward Blake falling to his death.

Panel 3: An insinuation that heroes are not beloved on this Earth as they are in our comics when Detective #2 makes the comment: “We don’t need any masked avengers getting interested and cutting in.”

Note the comic in the boy’s hands in the foreground – the first look at the “Tales of the Black Freighter.” Also note behind him two other comics – “Pirate” and “X-Ships,” and, more importantly, the headline on the newspaper states “Vietnam 51st State” an even more ominous indication that this is not our world.

Panel 4: Juxtaposition: “. . . well, what say we let this one drop out of sight?” as Edward Blake falls into the night.

Panel 5: First mention of the Keene Act of 1977, which we find out later is the legislation that outlawed masked heroes.

The cars look different, another sign this is a parallel reality.

On the right of the panel we see Kovacs marching with his sign toward the detectives.

In the foreground, a symbol of another of the overriding themes of the book – the threat and fear of nuclear devastation – can be seen in a flyer for a popular candy, MMeltdowns, which has as its brand image a mushroom cloud, symbolic of the meltdown from a nuclear detonation.

Panel 6: The statement, “Rorschach’s still out there.” carries over to

Panel 7: as, in the foreground, we see Kovacs (the alter-ego of Rorschach) approaching the detectives.

Note Kovacs is checking his watch, which is on his right wrist, signifying that he is left-handed. (Clue #2 that he’s Rorschach)

The statement, “What’s the matter?” from Detective #2 as Detective #1 pulls his jacket closer about his neck, carries over to

Panel 8: as Detective #1 says, “Uh, nothing . . . just a shiver,” as they pass the man with the “End is Nigh” poster. This is significant because the man they are discussing, Rorschach – a violent and feared vigilante – is the man with the “End is Nigh” poster.


  1. Great Work!

    re: The Pirate Comics- One of the things Dave Gibbons mentioned in the interview we did with him on LOD was that because there were superheroes in the world there were no need for superhero comics and pirate comics filled that breach. X-Ships might be an offhand reference to XMen which was the number one selling book at the time Watchmen came out.

    Gibbon's explanation for the textural depth of Watchmen world was that he and Moore built the world first, extrapolating from the single variance that superheroes exist in this world their entire environment. The electric cars since Dr. Manhattan can easily synthesize as much lithium as they need, Gunga Diner, even the airships were all spun out of Moore and Gibbons creating the world first and then the players in it.

    More to come...

  2. Jim,

    Thanks for the kind words and for reading. I appreciate it. Also, great to have you adding your perspective here. That interview with Gibbons was a great one (I don't know that I took the time to comment, but I thoroughly enjoyed it). I'll have to put up a link to that one.


  3. compare the bubblegum-chewing figure in panel three to Old Cho of Katsuhiro Otomo's "Domu" published five years prior to "Watchmen."