Thursday, December 27, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter XII - page 31


Panel 1:  This panel shows us the “new dawn” on that fateful intersection of New York City that has been the hub of this narrative.  It is a time of coming together rather than divisiveness, as shown by a number of things in this image.  On our left we see a new restaurant, Burgers ‘n Borscht, which is a very literal commingling of America (burgers) and Russia (borscht), symbolizing the new understanding between these superpowers that came about as a result of Veidt’s plan. 

In the background, the Hiroshima lovers graffiti is being painted over while the nuclear fallout shelter sign is being taken down – two of the prime symbols of the fear that hung over this world. 

In the far background, high in the air at roughly the center of the panel, we see a zeppelin crossing in front of the clouds, symbolic of renewal after the demolished zeppelin seen at the opening of this chapter.  On the right, Pyramid Construction – obviously a company of Veidt’s – is helping to rebuild this intersection, and the “New Deal” sign on the construction fencing is reminiscent of FDR’s New Deal – a series of economic programs enacted in the United States during the mid-1930s, in an effort to lift us out of the Great Depression. 

In the far right of the image, we can see the placard for the New Utopia Theater, which is airing an Andrei Tarkovsky double bill – “The Sacrifice” and “Nostalgia.”  The first bit of significance of this is the fact that the New Utopia is showing films by a lauded Russian filmmaker, again exhibiting the newfound camaraderie of the United States and Russia.  Secondly, the titles allude to two of the prime themes of Watchmen – that of the nostalgia that permeated so much of the narrative and incited characters to action, and the great sacrifice exacted by Veidt on the citizens of New York in order to achieve his goal of world peace.

But we also have some graffiti remarking on the aftermath of Veidt’s “alien invasion” as we can see on the fence just below the “New Deal” sign a statement that did read “One in Eight go mad,” but the eight was crossed out and replaced with a 3, signifying the madness caused by Veidt’s squid.

Panel 2:  The point of view for this panel is from the spot where Bernie had his newsstand.  The newer, sleeker spark hydrant and the automated newspaper vending machine are symbolic of the two Bernies, the younger who liked to sit against the spark hydrant to keep warm and the older one who ran his newsstand here.

The Gazette headline – “RR to Run in 88?” – appears to be an allusion to Ronald Reagan, who was the President of the United States at the time.  But we will learn that it is not Reagan whom the pundits are asking about.

More importantly, though, this headline is another indication that the world, and the country, is moving on, as it appears Richard Nixon is not the top candidate any longer after his five terms in office.

Panel 3:  The “One World One Accord” poster is the most prominent symbol of this new world order in this panel, and it is significant that this poster is replacing the old nuclear fallout shelter one.  The Promethean Cab (+ Limo) Company sign stating it is “under new management” offers an equally positive message, as that company is able to start over after the devastation wrought by Veidt’s “alien attack.”

Panel 4:  Here we see the ad for Millennium by Veidt – a new fragrance that looks to the future rather than at the past, as Nostalgia did.  Again, another indication of the new world order that came about, as a result of Adrian Veidt.  Also noteworthy is the graffiti:  “Quantum Jump” and “New Deal,” both of which are positive, forward looking phrases.

Panel 5:  Note that the figure walking down the street, Seymour from the New Frontiersman, is wearing what appear to be Veidt shoes.  More importantly, the graffiti beyond his legs reads “Watch the Skies” instead of “Who Watches the Watchmen?”  The world has rallied around their common enemy in the stars and, even if they haven’t forgiven or forgotten, the populace seems able to reconcile living in a world with adventurers now – or, at the very least, they don’t feel the need to be on the lookout for them now.

Also, just beyond Seymour’s right shin, we can see the Pioneer Publishing entrance – publishers of the New Frontiersman where Seymour is employed – and its symbol, which are two “P”s back to back forming a symmetrical image very similar to Rorschach’s signature and the symbol for the Rumrunner Bar, as seen in Chapter V.

Panel 6:  Across the street, in the background, we can see a clock at roughly a minute to noon (which looks the same as the “minutes to midnight” clock motif that has run throughout the book) and an advertisement for a new candy, sunbursts, which seems to have replaced mmmmeltdowns and it allusions to nuclear devastation.

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