Monday, December 3, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter XII - pages 2-6


Over the course of these first six pages of Chapter XII, Moore & Gibbons slowly and quietly “pan” around the intersection that has been ground zero for much of the storytelling, and which became ground zero for Veidt’s ultimate plan.  They utilize full-page images for each of these opening pages.  For the reasons cited in the notes for PAGE 1, this is a powerful and effective use of the comic page, enhanced by the “rhythm” these two artists created with the 9-panel grid over the course of the previous eleven chapters.

Throughout these opening pages all, or most, of the visual echoes that we have seen over the course of Watchmen can be found in these images of death and destruction.  Most prominent on PAGE 2 are the blimp (having crashed into a building behind Madison Square Garden), the apocalyptic associations with the knot-top concert for Pale Horse and Krystalnacht (posters of which have been scattered throughout the story), the feeling that nuclear devastation has been looming over the heads of the entire world as symbolized by the newspaper headline, “War?” and the watch (and, by extension, watchmaker) motif as seen by the watch peddler’s case in the lower part of the image.

On PAGE 3 we see the Utopia movie theater, which has been showing the classic film The Day the Earth Stood Still, more watches strewn across the pavement leading to the watch peddler, a number of knot-tops dead on the steps leading into the theater, and the floating elephant advertising the Gunga Diner in tatters to the right of the image, while the newspaper with the War headline floats across the image.

PAGE 4 is in front of the Gunga Diner, with the elephant face of its advertising balloon coming in from the left of the panel, Detectives Fine and Bourquin seen in the lower middle of the image, while a Rorschach blot from Dr. Long’s brief case is visible at the very bottom of the page.  And, again, newspapers flutter across the image.

PAGE 5 has both Joey & Aline and Dr. & Mrs. Long in macabre embraces – these couples seemingly only able to overcome their differences in death.  There are more echoes from earlier chapters as this image is in front of the Promethean Cab Company where we can see the overturned Gordian Knot Lock truck.  At the corner of the building where Promethean was headquartered is the nuclear fallout shelter sign, while in the foreground are more copies of the newspaper with its War headline, another Rorschach blot, and a bottle of Nostalgia perfume.

And, with PAGE 6, we finally see the body of the creature – having only perceived the arms, or tentacles, in previous pages.  Fittingly, the creature was teleported to the Institute for Extraspatial Studies – a Veidt holding where he could secretly build the receiver for his teleportation device.  The greenish liquid covering the front of this building, and the tentacle to our right, is actually the squid’s blood, which is yet another bit of verisimilitude, as squids do actually have green blood.  Also note that the letters not covered with its blood (and including the “L” formed by the newspaper corner floating over the scene) spell out:  “OR ALL DIE.”

We also have more echoes from previous chapters as we see the Pink Triangle poster Joey asked Bernie, the newsvendor, to put up at his newsstand, the spark hydrant developed by Dr. Manhattan, more instances of the newspaper with the War headline – which is not only symbolic of the threat humanity has been living under throughout this narrative, but also foreshadows the feelings about this creature (that it might be a scout for an alien invasion force) that will propel the narrative toward its end – the Black Freighter comic the younger Bernie has been reading throughout Watchmen with its back cover advocating the Veidt Method (the opening of portion of its slogan: “I will give you bodies…” an ominous phrase given Veidt’s actions), another Rorschach blot from Dr. Long’s briefcase, and the cover to the spark hydrant spattered with blood, which echoes the blood spattered smiley-face button of the Comedian.

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