Saturday, 25 November 2017

Well, Watchmen suckered me but good

(content warning: this post discusses fictional incidents of sexual assault and homophobia. Also, spoilers for the first quarter of Watchmen.)

The other day I made good on my threat and actually bought of a copy of Watchmen and two and a bit chapters in I'm starting to get the impression there is no such thing as a sympathetic character in this world. Now, I wasn't shocked when the Comedian turned out to be a dick. He was, after all, murdered and its a rare fictional murder victim who did nothing wrong in their lives. I wasn't expecting him to shoot a Vietnamese woman who was carrying his child but I was prepared for something unsympathetic.

What I wasn't expecting was for Roschach, the man investigating the murder, to handwave attempted rape and physical assault as a “moral lapse”.

Then the real hit came.

Each chapter (so far) has ended with a prose extract from the autobiography of the first Nite Owl, one of this world's earliest costumed heroes. In one extract Nite Owl relates the aftermath of the Comedian's attempted rape of the original Silk Spectre and describes the Comedian's departure from the Minutemen shortly afterwards as being “by mutual consent”. Up to now Nite Owl's been portrayed as quite sympathetic and thoughtful and he does roundly condemn the Comedian for this and other transgressions.

You're obviously meant to read the “by mutual consent” line as either understating the emotions of a painful moment or as an old man who, as a product of his time, reacted poorly and has come to understand the situation better in hindsight.


Then he just casually mentions that they threw another woman off the team because she was a lesbian. That's all. Oh, and that she and her partner were murdered shortly thereafter.

So, yes, I'm getting the feeling that no one in this book is going to end up sympathetic in the final analysis.

The main question I'm still mulling over is whether Rorschach's narration is meant to sound like pretentious bollocks or if its genuinely meant to be read as deep and contemplative. I'm leaning towards it being the pretentious bollocks of someone who thinks they're deep and contemplative, a reading my friends mostly agree with.

Which leads us to the further question: is the new Rorschach in Doomsday Clock just imitating this one's style or does he honestly believe his stream of bollocks is deep and contemplative?

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