Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter X - the complete annotations


Thematic Overview: 

The title – “Two Riders Were Approaching…” – taken from the Bob Dylan song, “All Along the Watchtower,” lays out the visual motif for Chapter X.  This chapter is replete with two riders approaching, starting with Air Force 1 and Air Force 2 flying President Nixon and Vice President Ford in to NORAD.  It is here, where they believe themselves safely fortified against the approaching nuclear conflagration, that these two leaders of the free world will wait and see exactly how far the conflict in Europe escalates. 

From this point, we see a number of variations on two riders approaching, from the horror of the Black Freighter scenes to the pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses that stop at Bernie’s newsstand with a copy of the Watchtower.  The most significant instance of the two riders motif in this chapter comes from a comment by Rorschach on page 20 when he tells Nite Owl that the world is “on verge of apocalypse.  Death and War are already here.  Other horsemen can’t be far behind.”  This acknowledgement of the metaphorical arrival of two of the four horsemen of the apocalypse heightens the sense of urgency within this story.  The end is nigh, and nothing seems able to halt that.

This metaphor also accentuates the reality that the finale of Watchmen is fast approaching.  As Moore & Gibbons finally start weaving their myriad plot threads together, the pattern begins to reveal itself.  The riders are the readers, marching toward the climax and the denouement that will give offer answers, while also providing more questions about this world.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter X - The Back-Matter

The Back-Matter

Again, Moore offers something different in this chapter’s back-matter.  This time we see corporate correspondence and promotional material for some of Adrian Veidt’s products and interests. 

The initial letter from Leo Winston, the President of Marketing and Development, is intriguing for the very believable corporate tone it evokes.  This is fascinating when one considers Alan Moore’s stance regarding “corporate” comics and his animosity toward DC Comics, in particular.  Also, when viewed from a place where “Before Watchmen” is now a reality, it carries even more weight than it might have before.

Veidt’s response to Winston’s letter is interesting – vis-à-vis substituting an army of terrorists for the costumed adventurers suggested – in that it reminds the audience of the reality of superheroes in this alternate world.

Perhaps the document most pertinent to the main narrative, though, is Veidt’s letter to Angela Neuberg, Director of Veidt Cosmetics & Toiletries.  His suggestion that the very popular and profitable Nostalgia line be scrapped for the new Millennium line, which looks to the future, sounds somewhat reasonable in the way he frames the argument.  Nuclear conflict seems imminent, at this time, and Veidt is planning for that future – if there even is a future. 

This is yet another clue pointing to Veidt as the mastermind behind the mask killings.  He has a plan to save the world, and this letter asking for the new Millennium line foreshadows the forward-looking, optimistic outlook that will become evident once we reach the culmination of this narrative.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter X - page 28


Panels 1-6:  And here, as Rorschach and Nite Owl skim over the Antarctic ice on Nite Owl’s hoverbikes, we have our final instance of two riders approaching. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter X - page 26


Panel 4:  This oversized panel is another example of how to enhance the impact of a scene in comics by varying the size of panels only when necessary.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter X - page 25


Panel 1:  where we see the Owlship in the air, flying toward Antarctica and Veidt’s fortress.

Panel 5:  This image mirrors a similar one of Dr. Manhattan and Silk Spectre approaching the Olympus Mons on Mars in Chapter IX.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter X - page 24


Panel 1: where we see the mail carrier delivering the journal to the mail sorting depot, which will send the package along to its recipient

Panel 2:  Note the clock in the background is very close to the familiar minutes to midnight motif seen throughout Watchmen. 

Panel 5:  The editorial cartoonist to whom Godfrey refers is Walt Feinberg, who worked with Max Shea on the Black Freighter comic after Joe Orlando left the book – as recounted in the back-matter to Chapter V – and is the artist for the two-part story, “Marooned,” that the younger Bernie has been reading at the newsstand throughout the main narrative.

Panel 6:  The line read by Seymour from the journal is a variation on the very first line of Watchmen.  It may be that Seymour read it wrong, due to Rorschach’s scratchy handwriting, or it is, more likely, a simple error on the part of Moore or Gibbons, who also lettered the book.

Panel 7:  Note that Seymour is wearing a smiley face t-shirt, yet another instance of that prominent visual motif (sans blood spatter).

Panel 8:  Godfrey’s comment, “I won’t see truth and integrity buried beneath an avalanche of drivel…” is ironic considering he’s telling Seymour to bury the truth, in the form of Rorschach’s journal, beneath an avalanche of drivel, in the form of the crank file submissions.

Panel 9:  Again, Godfrey’s comment, “…we could miss something important…” is ironic, considering he and Seymour are missing the most important submission they have – Rorschach’s journal.

Godfrey’s final piece of dialogue, “…the birds could be in the air right now…” transitions directly into