Saturday, May 12, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter V - page 12


Panel 1:  where the news vendor is holding the newspaper open in a very similar fashion, and is, in fact, watching the same scene of the Knot Tops on the opposite corner that Rorschach is watching through the window of the Gunga Diner. 

Moore again plays with the dialogue from the two narratives (Watchmen proper and the “Black Freighter”) as the news vendor says, “this whole bloody mess, its gives me a funny feelin’ inside, y’know” which relates to the Black Freighter caption wherein the sailor states, “there was a gull in my stomach.”

Panel 2:  The image in this panel also echoes the previous two, as the hands of the sailor are in a similar position as the newsvendor and Rorschach from previous panels.  The mast upon which the sailor is holding has an added visual echo as the blood stain on the sail resembles very much the shape of the map in the newspaper on panel 1.

Also, Moore plays with the words of the narratives in this panel as the newsvendor says, “. . . I dunno how long we can hold on,” which relates to the sailor’s comment that the realization of his breakfast (the raw seagull he plucked from the air) makes him feel “faint,” thus his need to hold on to the mast.

Panel 3:  Moore continues these parallel dialogues within Watchmen proper and the Black Freighter story.  The sailor says he had “swallowed too much horror” while the newsvendor makes a commentary on the enormity of the current world situation.  The coming of World War Three is too much for anyone to think about “[except] the arms companies.”

Panel 4:  In this panel, the two narratives juxtapose, but instead of the words playing off one another, the newsvendor’s comment to “watch the financial pages . . . they’re gonna make a killing” with regard to the arms companies he mentions in the previous panel is echoed visually by the gulls circling high above the doomed sailor in this panel, hovering in anticipation of feasting on the carrion (as the arms dealers will feast with the escalation of war).

Panel 5:  In this panel, Moore & Gibbons play with the audience as the news vendor’s remark, “don’t people see the signs?” is not only a commentary on the impending war, but also a statement directed at us.  If one looks carefully, in the background we can see Kovacs (Rorschach) walking with his “The End is Nigh” sign. 

Most people will focus on the word balloons and foreground action of a comic panel.  They would not see the man with the sign in the background, which, when followed through the background of a later panel on this page, also gives us a clue as to the identity of Rorschach.

Panel 6:  More wordplay as the news vendor is “sick” at the thought of everyone “escapin’ into comic books an’ t.v.” while in the Black Freighter caption – as well as the image in this panel – readers see that the sailor is physically ill from the ingestion of the raw gull. 

Also note that one of the corpses used to float the raft is seen in reflection in the ocean, reinforcing the overall theme of this issue.

Panel 7:  We get more wordplay from Moore as the “Black Freighter” caption states that the sailor discovered “an odd clarity” from his experience of coming face to face with one of his deceased shipmates while he retched into the ocean, as the news vendor comes to a similar realization regarding the impending war as he ponders the fact that everything would be gone, “even the word ‘gone’ would be gone.”

Panel 8:  The news vendor comments that “news vendors . . . see the whole picture” as the sailor sees an image of himself reflected in the water (reinforcing the theme of this issue) and is unable to reconcile the visage of “a madman with blood-caked lips” with the reality that it is him, i.e. he is unable to “see the whole picture.”

Also note that the hair of the sailor falls across his left eye in the reflection, echoing the blood-spattered smiley face badge.

Panel 9:  This final panel of page 12 mirrors the first panel of this page, something also seen on pages 7 & 8, again reinforcing the theme of reflection/symmetry found throughout this chapter.

The juxtaposition of this panel is ironic in that the two pieces of dialogue – from the Black Freighter and from Watchmen proper – contradict one another.  First, we have the doomed sailor of the “Black Freighter” commenting on his own reflection, saying that all the facets of the visage seemed individually familiar, but he “could not piece them together.”  The news vendor states that the curse of him and his newsvendor brethren is to “see every damned connection.  Every damned link.”  These two pieces of narration are a comment on the small image of Kovacs (note the “End is Nigh” sign) picking through the trashcan that, earlier in this chapter, Rorschach told Moloch was his mail drop.  By making these “connections” and “piec[ing] them together” we are able to deduce Rorschach’s alter-ego. 

No comments:

Post a Comment