Watchmen Watch: Issue #11, “Look On My Works, Ye Mighty…”
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As Nite Owl and Rorschach approach Ozymandias’ fortress, Adrian Veidt takes a walk back through his history, and our Watchmen podcast breaks down Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Watchmen #11, “Look On My Works, Ye Mighty…” Plus, one of our hosts has seen the first episode of HBO’s Watchmen series and gives their spoiler-free impressions.
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The theme music for Watchmen Watch was written and performed by Jeff Solomon.
Plus, here’s a transcript of the episode for you to read through as you listen:
Alex: Who watches the Watchman and who watches you watching the Watchman? We watch you watch the Watchman right through your window like a bunch of creeps. I’m Alex.
Justin: I’m Justin.
Pete: I’m Pete, but your-
Alex: And this is-
Pete: Your intro is getting creepier and creepier, man. You got to figure something out with that.
Justin: So is Watchman. So is Watchman, Pete.
Alex: It is, and we got a lot of episodes together. We got two episodes to go here on the comic, and then we’re going to be jumping into the TV show and by the end, things are going to get real fucked up.
Alex: Yeah. that’s 100% truth. Speaking of fucked up, I’m sorry to do this. Our fourth host, Alan Moore, the landmark, the benchmark [crosstalk 00:00:42]-
Pete: Can you even call him a host at this point?
Justin: What are you talking about? He’s been here for a couple of the episodes.
Alex: Yeah, I remember he had some good things to say about the last issue, I think.
Justin: Yeah, he really, really blew himself up over that last issue.
Alex: Oh boy.
Justin: It’s like, “Chill out dude. We get it. You’ve Rowe Watchman. But anyway, so he just texted me and he was like, “Hey, I was there 35 minutes ago.” So I don’t know if we missed him.
Alex: Well, I’ll tell you what, as long as he recorded his part of the podcast, we’re doing this one over Skype. I could just edit it in. I can edit it in afterwards, and I’m sure it’ll be seamless. So, just throughout this podcast episode, let’s take incredibly long pauses.
Justin: Yeah, that’s true, and we’ll just drop in some Alan Moore Bond Moe’s.
Alex: Yeah, oh, I thought you were going to say beneas for some reason. I don’t know why.
Justin: Interesting, it’s two different words. Bond Mose, means good words. Beneas means doughnut for rich people.
Alex: Speaking of doughnuts for rich people, we’re going to be talking about chapter 11 and not going intellectually bankrupt over it. As we talk about Look on my Works, ye Mighty the second to last issue of Watchman by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. As mentioned, the show is premiering on October 20th. I don’t know if we want to get into this on this podcast. I will mention we’re about a week out. We tape these episodes about a week in advance, and we’ll probably catch up when we get to the show. I did see the first episode [crosstalk 00:02:14] at Comic Con.
Alex: What? No, I did. I don’t know if we want to talk about that at all on the podcast before we get into the issue.
Pete: What was it like man?
Justin: Well it’ll be one side of the conversation, but yeah, let’s do it.
Alex: Sure, I’m not going to spoil anything for anybody because I do want us to talk about a clean and fresh on the podcast itself, but two observations I will give you all your listeners. The first one, so they showed off the first episode previously at TCA, the Television Critics Association. I did talk to some coworkers and friends there who had seen it, but generally that’s kind of mum, that’s a very private situation for people watching that stuff. So this New York Comic Con, this was thousands of fans inside the Javits Center.
Alex: It was the first time they really publicly showing off Watchman, and Damon Lindelof came out on stage, and I don’t want to ascribe too much emotion for him because I don’t know him personally or anything like that, but he, in the sweetest way, seemed so nervous about what was about to happen, which you don’t really expect from a show runner. You expect somebody to come out, and usually expect them to come out and be like, “what’s up y’all? We’re showing of Watchman. He came out-
Justin: But I think that’s makes sense to me because these are the people … It’s like if someone were to come into your home and be like, “Hey, I made home videos about you and your family. Here you go.” Because the fans are that into it. They’re that rabbit about it. It’s like something so close to their hearts like family.
Alex: Yeah, and you could see he was carrying these handwritten notes, and you could see his hand shaking the entire time while I was reading them, talking about how much Watchman meant to him when he was growing up. How it was the first comics that his father had given him. They told him it will change his life. And he’s told this story before in the initial Instagram posts that he put up where he explained why I was doing the project. He repeated a good chunk of that.
Alex: He did, I thought this was a little weird to call out, but our fourth co-host, Alan Moore, he called them out at the top of the presentation. He said, “I could reference one person’s name. You know who I’m talking about, but I couldn’t do this without him and this goes out to him and I hope we have honored you, even if your name isn’t necessarily on this thing.”
Pete: That’s a classy move men.
Alex: Yeah, it was very sweet. I just wanted to-
Justin: I read that report and when you take your name off something, well how come you can’t even say his name? He could say is name.
Pete: No man, he was being respectful about it.
Alex: His name just doesn’t exist anymore. Like anybody who does it… could you imagine if somebody just used his name to promote their product? They’d be [crosstalk 00:04:59]-
Pete: Wait a second. Oh, come on guys.
Justin: He’s our fourth co-host. We’re not exploiting.
Pete: Have you ever been hosting a podcast and then you just realize you’re a part of a piece of shit podcast. Oh, that sucks.
Alex: Jesus man, several times a week I got to tell you.
Pete: It’s a heck of a ride.
Alex: Well, anyway, that was … Damon Lindelof introduced it. I thought that was very sweet, and then we watched the whole first pilot episode. I got to tell you, I loved it. I thought it was really good. I’m very curious to talk about it with you guys here on the podcast because there’s a lot to talk about, but my general impression overall was even though, and we’ve talked about this from the very beginning, you don’t need to continue Watchman. You don’t need to riff off Watchman. You don’t need to do before Watchman in the comics or anything like that.
Alex: We talked about that back when it was coming out of D.C., but if you are going to do it, I’m glad that it’s good, and that’s what I thought about this pilot. It was clear that if nothing else, they have put so much thought into every single frame of it and to me it matched my hopes of what I wanted out of the show.
Justin: Wow. A greatness-
Alex: Being very vague about it. I don’t want to spoil anybody’s experience, but I was very happy at the end with the experience that I have. I’m very excited to watch it again because-
Pete: Would you say the first half was good, but the second half wasn’t or-
Alex: I know you like to make fun of me for doing that. No, it was good throughout. Regina King is amazing. The cast is amazing.
Pete: She is a national treasure. That woman is unbelievable.
Alex: It’s going to be a conversation piece, that’s the other thing. People are going to talk about it quite a bit because even when it honors, and echoes, and reverberates off of Watchman, the comic that we’re about to talk about, it’s very much its own thing, and it’s almost, in a certain way, in conversation with Watchman, the comic book. Again, I know that’s being very vague, but it’ll make more sense when you watch it.
Justin: It’s in conversation.
Pete: You’re telling us to watch this Watchman show? Is that what you’re saying?
Alex: Yeah. I’ll tell you what, I know we were kind of waffling about this. Let’s [crosstalk 00:07:23].
Justin: Don’t waffle the Watchman.
Alex: But you buy our Watchman branded waffle bakers made with our good friend, [Wildland Bore 00:07:31]. We sell them by Le Creuset.
Justin: Le Creuset. Excellent partner for this Watchman themed waffle maker. Every nook and cranny is full of syrup and bean juice.
Alex: Oh, there was one other thing that I wanted to mention to you guys about the Watchman premier. So I went to the Watchman party afterwards-
Pete: Men, you went on all Watchman.
Alex: I was all Watchman all the time. Now, this was actually the thing that made me feel a little uncomfortable about the whole monetization of the whole thing-
Justin: I’m sorry, the what?
Alex: Monetization of the whole thing, where as opposed to the premiere where they were very respectful of everything to go in and hear like a DJ blasting 90’s dance music and people dressed in cosplay wandering all over the place, that was a little weird. But the main thing I wanted to mention to you, which I was very excited about, we’ve talked about previously in the podcast, they had Watchman theme drinks and in fact, they had Doctor Manhattan.
Pete: That’s good.
Justin: That’s nice.
Alex: Now, I know your recipe was a Manhattan with big blue dick in it, right Justin?
Justin: No, I believe my recipe was stirred with a regular dick. Didn’t have to be blue unless you happen to have a blue dick and not naturally then ice-
Alex: I’ve been freezing my dick all night just to make sure it’s nice and blue when I stir my cocktails [inaudible 00:08:55].
Justin: You could just get a vasectomy.
Pete: I just want to back up the truck for a second here.
Justin: It’s much cheaper to just stick it in the freezer. What’s up Pete.
Pete: You thought it was people who look like they were going to a Comic Con were at the party that was for Watchman.
Alex: No, what I mean by it is that Watchman is a very particular thing, without being too snotty or gate keeping or about it. It was just a regular Comic Con party where they were like, “Here we go now, Here we go now oh, oh, oh.” And everybody’s dancing around and getting drunk, and partying.
Pete: I like the way you’re putting a tone on that. I think it’s a great song.
Alex: Oh, you’re missing my point entirely, Pete.
Justin: Wait, Alex, are you saying you were bothered by the Alan Moore jalapeno poppers they were serving at the party?
Alex: Yes, can I give you the recipe for a Doctor Manhattan then we’ll move on?
Pete: Okay, great.
Justin: Yes, please.
Alex: Okay, Doctor Manhattan, according to them, is four roses bourbon, splash Curacao liquor, Bianca vermouth, and orange bitters.
Justin: Well, the Curacao is horrible.
Pete: That’s sounds disgusting.
Justin: [crosstalk 00:10:04] makes it blue.
Alex: I’ll tell you what, it made it blue, wasn’t great.
Pete: I could have told off from that list.
Justin: Curacao is a bad thing.
Alex: I’ll tell you what, I got drunk and I made some very poor decisions there that night, extremely poor decisions.
Pete: Good for you.
Justin: When do we get into those decisions?
Pete: Yeah, when do we talk about that? Which podcast is that?
Alex: Just very briefly then we’ll move on. I bought a ticket to go see Joker. [crosstalk 00:10:29]
Pete: I don’t care what you say. You’re a sellout, man.
Alex: I was very drunk. We’ll talk about this another time. Let’s jump into Look on my Works, ye Mighty, chapter 11 of Watchman. This is the big issue. This is the big one. Granted, some stuff happens in the next issue as well, but this is really where it all goes down, and for those of you who were, whatever reason, haven’t been reading to this point, we know now that Adrian Veidt is the villain. He’s been masterminding a plan. We don’t know exactly what that plan is. At night, Ellen Rorschach have headed to Antarctica to his base to confront him.
Alex: Even though they put together most of the clues, they’re still not quite sure why he’s done this or what exactly is going on, and they want to find out more from him. So, this is very much the Ozymandias issue. We’ve seen him a bunch throughout the comic, but this is the first time we’re really getting inside of his head, and it’s pretty huge. Before we get into a page by page or anything, any overall impressions of the issue, things you taken away, themes, anything like that?
Justin: Well, it’s interesting. So when Nite Owl and Rorschach head to Antarctica, they’re like, “Oh, Adrian Veidt is responsible for The Comedian’s death perhaps and threatening the other heroes.” But in the midst of this, they’re like, the world is probably ending, but they’re heroes and they’re like, “Hey, the world’s ending, but we should go investigate this murder our friend may or may not have accomplished.” I think that’s interesting that it happened to work out as we learn in this issue that they caught both problems at the same time.
Alex: Well, but I think, maybe I’m not remembering correctly, but I believe they made that decision last issue, right?
Justin: Yes, they did.
Alex: They decided let’s tackle the solvable, potentially solvable problem versus, hey, we’re going to stop nuclear annihilation between the United States and Russia, right?
Justin: Right, but don’t you think … I guess maybe that’s the point. Maybe that’s the like, oh, as humans we can’t actually solve these larger problems, so let’s just do what we think we can handle because I think that plays into a lot of the themes of this issue, which is all about how we as humans set our own traps and end up causing our own problems that come back and get us killed or ruin our lives basically.
Alex: Well, and the other thing that is playing throughout the issue, that’s actually been playing throughout the series, but really comes to bear here is just kind of the idea of knots. Every issue has its own theme and that’s something that’s gets pushed very heavily. The image on the cover and in the second paddle this time is these butterflies and this fully age peeking through the snow. It’s in the shape of the stain on The Comedians button. So it’s the same sort of thing, but it also kind of looks like a rope tied together.
Alex: We’ve had the Gordian knot locksmiths or Gordian lock, I think it was called, that’s popped up throughout sort of that running joke about Dan Dry berg’s door keeps getting knocked open and they keep coming back and fixing it. But throughout this, we get the idea of knots, and what I took away from that is that we are all intrinsically tied together, but often it’s hard to tell a knot from a tangle, if that makes sense.
Alex: Well, I’m riffing a little bit off of your point here, Justin, that everybody is so tied together. When you look at it up close, Nite Owl and Rorschach are heading there and they’re like, “okay, what is this small solvable thing? We can untie a knot, right?” But ultimately they find that it’s this enormous bundle of rope that is stretched all over the world.
Justin: Yeah, I mean, to take that as a larger metaphor for this whole issue, like this issue is crazy complicated. There’s so much exposition. All the Black Freighter stuff, when I was younger reading this, I was like, “Okay, let’s get back to the story.” But I feel like maybe it’s a sign of maturity or growing up or being interested in different things anyway, is that’s the stuff that is so intense here. The metaphor of that is so great juxtaposed against both the people at the news stand, and the crime that happens there, and then the larger story of Adrian Veidt Rise from being just a rich genius to having this plot to save the world by killing half of New York city.
Alex: Well, I just want to mention, to get back to the thing that you said about the Black Freighter stuff, I agree with you as the same sort of thing. I basically skimmed it the first time I read it when I was younger. So yeah, going back now when we’re really delving into it, it certainly makes a lot more sense, but there’s a very funny exchange towards the middle/end of the issue when Bernie, the news stands dude, finds out that the dude has been reading the Black Freighter the entire time is also named Bernie.
Alex: He says, what we’ve all been thinking, the dude on the ground, he says, “Why do you keep coming back here for weeks and reading that over and over?” And the younger Bernie says, “Because they don’t make sense man. That’s why I got to read them over.” And I think a, that’s a very funny exchange. B, it ties into that whole knot thing of him trying to unravel what’s going on with the Black Freighter, but I think that also points to exactly what you were saying is that divide between youth and older. Not that Bernie, the newsman, has any real idea what’s going on, but the younger Bernie is just like looking at as a kid and it’s like, “I don’t know why these pirate comics are like this.” And that it isn’t until later that you really get them.
Justin: Yeah, it is funny that the Bernie character there also, he’s young and he also doesn’t read it. Just like we also didn’t really read it when we were meeting this comic. Man, Alan Moore gets it, except for showing up on time for a podcast.
Pete: I mean overall it starts kind of real interesting, tying stuff in but the ending is so massive. That ending blew me away so much that I was like…. that’s when I went back and started rereading stuff and the interview at the end of this, I read that all the way through. That’s the first time. That ending was so bad-ass and that was such an amazing villain monologue thing that I was like, “Oh my God, this comic just went from being really interesting and beautifully drawn, and well done to a whole different level of respect.”
Justin: I mean, I agree with you, the level of just mastery of the art form to pull off telling a story this complex with all these crazy details in it, and also making the end reveals truly shocking and have a great fight sequence in the middle. This revelation about Adrian fight and he kills his assistance through boredom mostly, I think, is great. It’s just such a great issue and it does so much.
Alex: I don’t know if you’re talking about reading this time or the first time you read it, Pete, but I got to tell you, I knew exactly what was going to happen. But when you get to that final line of Adrian Veidt where he says, “I did it 35 minutes ago,” I cackled when I read it, this time too, because it’s so good. Even if you know exactly what’s coming, the way-
Justin: It still gets you.
Alex: … the way the word bubbles are paced out too it just hits it at a perfect rhythm. It’s amazing.
Pete: Yeah, it really does.
Justin: And he’s a cocky motherfucker. He’s a cocky motherfucker, this guy.
Alex: So, the other thing that we’re touching on a little bit here that we should mention, and then I guess we probably, we’ll page-by-page a little bit, but there’s two things that are going on in this issue. We’re following Nite Owl and Rorschach as they are approaching Adrian Veidt to the palace, fortress, whatever you want to call it, and confronting him. Ultimately him laying out his whole history, and plan, and exactly what’s been going on the entire time, cresting in this I did a 35 minutes ago. And then we’re watching what’s going on the street corner with the new stand as every single regular human character we’ve encountered over the course of the past 10 issues all come together at exactly the same time, exactly the wrong time.
Alex: But it isn’t until later that we realize that we’ve been watching what happened to the past. We’re watching 35 minutes ago through this entire thing. You can tell if you look at the clocks, but they’re off to the side in such a way that it’s not immediately clear until for Nite Owl and Rorschach, it’s far too late.
Justin: Yeah, and the fact that seeing the Hiroshima lovers shadow here and the fact that that’s the blast point where that hits, everything starts to resonate for us backwards as well. That this is the flash point where this disaster happens and all of these characters are the victims of it. I feel like it just … We get to live like Dr. Manhattan because we retroactively feel so bad for these characters that we’ve been following their sort of boots on the ground story this whole time.
Pete: Also a lot of people are like, “Oh, why do you like Rorschach?” This right here is a moment that I really like Rorschach where even though he’s beaten, he still keeps getting up and trying to win. He does that move behind his back to block Rorschach and that to me, I love the fact that he’s not willing to accept this and is still fighting to the bitter end.
Alex: I got to say he uses a fork, right? Are you sure he’s not trying to eat Ozymandias because he’s so hungry?
Justin: He’s been in the snow for so long and that’s a tasty dude.
Alex: He’s only had a sugar cube tea.
Pete: Oh man.
Justin: Yeah. And let me ask you, Pete. In this story, in this issue specifically, what character do you want to be or what character are you?
Justin: Alex, what about you?
Alex: What character do I want to be?
Justin: What character are you like, I’m him or her?
Alex: Oh, I’m having a little trouble wrapping my mind around it. In the real world, I’d probably be one of the assistants that dies in the snow.
Justin: Come on dude, that’s the saddest answer you could ever say.
Pete: It’s honest though. It’s honest.
Alex: Yeah, man.
Justin: One of the assistants who dies in the snow, come on man.
Alex: Yeah, or maybe the lesbian who’s getting beaten up by her lesbian lover.
Justin: Wow, jeez. Alex, be best.
Alex: Okay, [Bu Bust 00:21:31]. Maybe I’ll be Bu Bustiest.
Justin: There you go.
Alex: Wait what about you? What are you getting at here? What’s your game Justin?
Justin: There’s no game. I just think it’s funny-
Pete: Are you the villain monologue in, are you?
Justin: Yeah. I’m Adrian Veidt.
Alex: I knew it. Well, what I thought you were getting at was the idea that you touched on Justin, either a podcast or two back about the idea that, sure, we look at Adrian Veidt as the villain, but maybe he actually is the hero of this story. Is that where you’re getting at or not at all?
Justin: No, definitely. In technically if the way … I mean, the next issue we technically don’t know what happens in that because we’re reading this issue, but if the story continues, and we’re going to find out in the TV series, he saved the world from nuclear disaster. So he is really the hero in that way even though he murdered half a million people or half of New York city, and killed a bunch of heroes and all this other stuff. It radiated a bunch of people. But I also think like this issue sets him up in that way because he’s talking about how the ills of the world, how humans just are built to kill each other and kill the environment, and these things resonate so hard with our current life and politics and global disasters. It’s crazy how this series was written so long ago and feels so present.
Alex: I completely agree with you of that. I would argue that this issue makes a very strong and not completely subtle case that Adrian Veidt is a psychopath, like unrelenting-
Justin: A sociopath.
Alex: Sociopath, yes. So, just to walk through this a little bit because I do want to talk about that. Actually, I’ll mention a couple of things that come to mind in terms of Adrian Veidt that I think you could certainly read into it. When he’s telling his story to his assistants, he tell his backstory, explains that he was raised rich by his parents. They died when he was 17. There’s a shot of him, I believe, sitting on one of the graves, and the implication that I took away from that is he probably killed his parents.
Pete: Yeah, he murdered them.
Justin: I agree with you.
Alex: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:23:53] says particularly because Rorschach says he’s never killed anybody, which contrast very directly with, yeah, but he probably has been killing people as long as he has had the capacity to kill.
Justin: Yeah, I mean, I think he’s someone who doesn’t value other humans lives, the lives of other humans, and that’s true sort of especially through this story. Then, again, at the end when we realize what he’s done because he thinks of himself as this person, the man above all other people.
Alex: Right. There’s also the other thing that’s running through Ozymandias’s backstory is his rivalry with The Comedian that plays out through this issue, which very much straddles the line in terms of how you interpret it. Extensively on the surface, he talks about the first meeting between Ozymandias and The Comedian. It’s something they revisited in the back matter, which seems like this very classic heroes fight before they team up type thing, but they’re very clear about the fact that The Comedian beats Ozymandias, which, again on the surface, if you wanted to read The Comedian as hero, he’s actually beating a villain in that case and once again that paints Ozymandias as a villain, except for the fact that as we know throughout reading this comic book, comedian is a pretty awful dude himself.
Justin: Well, I think they see each other, or at least this is mostly from Veidt perspective, but they’re both still sociopath’s in the way they value other human lives. I think the fact that Adrian Veidt is using The Comedians… his whole plan is inspired by The Comedian and is basically a joke or as he calls it a prank. So, I do think he kills him to prove that he’s the better man but The Comedians sort of POV or philosophy is what Adrian Veidt actually just sort of steals and uses to execute in his plan.
Alex: Yeah, should we walk through this issue? Should we go a little page by page or two over here?
Justin: Let’s do it.
Alex: All right, so we do start off on that first page where he is laying everything out about his philosophy. I swore I wasn’t going to use this word again, but there is some really nice juxtaposition on this page as it goes, [crosstalk 00:26:12]-
Alex: Let get something that I wanted to throw by you guys. So, he’s watching everything on his monitors. Bu Busts is walking next to him and he’s saying some very cheeky stuff about, of course, the ice they’re skating on is slippery and thinner that it looks. Let’s hope they don’t become reckless and overstep themselves. Let’s hope they know where to stop, and of course they don’t stop. They do keep coming. We had talked about in the last episode that part of Adrian Veidt plan was leading them here, luring them here and then laying everything out for them. Do you think there’s a part of him that thinks maybe they won’t make it, maybe they will turn back?
Justin: Yeah, and I think he’s the kind of guy who’s like, oh they’re still coming? Oh great. I’ll get to talk to them about my plan. My former partners in arms like this is a nice brotherhood, that I can really brag about what I’ve done in front of them. So I think, he takes pleasure in it a little bit and he doesn’t feel threatened in the least.
Alex: Yeah, neither should he. What were you going to say Pete?
Pete: I say agreed
Alex: Nice, so then they decided to go out anyway, and we get Adrian reaction to that, realizing that he has to go forth with his plan. He can’t put off things any longer. We get a very clear shot of the clocks in Tokyo, London and New York, so we know exactly what time it is, and there’s a large panel where he says, no time like the present playing off of those clocks. Also playing off of the very large picture of, I believe, it’s Alexander the great who I was named after. I don’t want to brag or anything.
Justin: Oh my God.
Pete: Did you just drop that in?
Alex: I mean, it’s not a big deal. Don’t even worry about it.
Justin: Your middle name is Alex… Your name is Alexander like the fine?
Alex: Yeah, my name is Alexander, the beat up lesbian. [crosstalk 00:28:07]. It’s very sad.
Justin: Is that a family name, a family middle name?
Alex: Yeah, it’s from my grandfather. So, then another very interesting secret, we see Adrian walking through. He says to Bu Bust not coming any further. No, fair enough. Wait here. This won’t take a moment. Why do you think Bu Bu stats who’s basically just a giant cat doesn’t want to come into this chamber and watch Ozymandias know what’s going on?
Justin: He’s worried about getting blamed.
Pete: No, he used to-
Justin: He’s like, let me chill out. I don’t want to be named in the court documents. I’ve got a life.
Pete: He knows where the dead bodies are. He doesn’t want anything to do with that place.
Alex: I don’t know. I agree with Justin. If you see a bunch of broken stuff on the floor, you’re immediately blaming the cat, not the smartest man in the world.
Justin: Yeah, exactly. That cat is like, oh, I actually like New York. I have some friends who are in the musical cats and I don’t want to be part of this.
Alex: Yeah. Now, two other things that I want to point out on this page. One, it’s so clear when you look back at it, but there’s a closeup shot if him pressing the button at 11:25 PM, which is exactly the 35 minutes ago. So if you’re paying attention to any of the clocks where they show up at New York, if you’re paying attention to any of the clocks in the actual scene, you know that it’s already happened. But then there’s the panel right after that, which doesn’t become clear until the next issue, but Ozymandias seemingly looks directly at us, the reader, and is bathed in a blue light before he turns back and finishes what he’s doing. It’s pretty clear there that Dr. Manhattan is showing up, right? I think?
Justin: I don’t know, interesting. I mean I hadn’t thought of that. I love this sequence. I mean we talked about the pacing in this a lot. That to me feels like that moment where you’re like, “Oh, what’s he doing? God, this feels important. I don’t know what he’s doing. I wish I could find out what he’s doing.”
Pete: Also, I agree with Alburn. It does look like the blue is like a nod to Dr. Manhattan.
Alex: Well, it might be, even if it isn’t specifically Dr. Manhattan showing up and I honestly do not remember from the next issue, it could just be based on the fact that for all of his smarts, for all of his planning, everything that he has is really based on dr Manhattan and dr Manhattan’s technology.
Justin: He’s a scumbag.
Alex: Exactly, he is. He’s stealing. He’s using other people’s works in order to do what he himself is just saying what he wants to do-
Pete: So you’re saying he hooked it up so when he presses the red button, a blue light goes off as like a F you to Dr. Manhattan?
Alex: No, I mean I think that’s … Again, I think we’re going to probably find out where we’re about in the next issue, if I remember correctly. But I do think it’s firmly indicating that no, this is not Ozymandias doing whatever is happening right now, it’s Dr. Manhattan, even if he would want it to be himself.
Pete: Oh wow.
Justin: Oh, interesting.
Alex: So then we get everybody coalescing on the same area as we get some of the tales of the Black Freighter. We do meet the girlfriend who also, she’s part of the Knot-tops. This gang that we’ve touched on now and again, that’s another knot reference in the issue. Then also we get the big revelation of the tales of the Black Freighter, which we kind of already knew from reading the previous issue, but the character himself realizes the classic, “Are we the baddies moment,” where he comes in and he’s beating up what he thinks is a pirate and it turns out he’s kicking the shit out of his wife in front of his kids.
Alex: In her, he realizes he’s become the evil that he thought was coming for him and coming for his family. Same sort of thing that’s going on with everybody in the world. They are becoming the evil that they thought was coming for them. And then we cut back to Ozymandias in his big dome entertaining his three assistants. Now, you mentioned that he’s being an asshole earlier, Justin. I think this is an Egyptian thing. He says, “You’re buried with your attendance, right?” So, instead of burying them in sand, he’s burying them in snow by the end of the sequence.
Justin: Yeah, but he’s not like, oh, I’m going to die too. He’s like, “Sorry dudes, you die. I’m going to go do some other stuff.”
Alex: I mean, that’s the curious thing about it, right? Like you would think if he really was following this philosophy, he was really believing what he’d say like Alexander, he would die young. I know he says that he wasn’t planning on doing that throughout the issue, but also if he was following Ramsey’s in the Egyptian tradition, he wouldn’t plan on making it out of this, right? So he’s a hypocrite beyond anything else.
Pete: Also I’m really disappointed in a place that cool they don’t have HR. Like tell HR to let them go. They’ll do it a lot nicer. It will be … They’re not such a big thing. I don’t understand.
Justin: No, this is the best way to be fired.
Alex: When you said cool, I thought you meant Antarctica.
Pete: Cool, like pretty chill.
Alex: Yeah, pretty chill.
Justin: I mean it’s, especially fucked up that the last thing these three dudes have to hear is another boring story from their boss, and then the one dude’s got butterfly all over his face, like, come on.
Alex: I don’t know. That happened to me once in the Museum of Natural History. A butterfly landed on my head, very upsetting.
Pete: I’m glad you didn’t die at that exact moment.
Alex: Who knows? This could be some horrible dream that I’m experiencing right now. So dudes do die. We get this shot of him sitting on the tombstone with hay, or whatever it is, grass in his mouth. He’s kind of smoking it a little bit, and we start to get his archer story. He says that he divested all of his money, traveled the world. It’s not quite here, but we do get a shot of him. It’s actually two pages from there, as he’s continuing to talk to his assistants where he’s standing in front of the stars completely naked. He is bathed in red and it almost to me, I take it as the opposite of Dr. Manhattan.
Justin: Yeah, I think that makes sense, and he’s just had some hashish and he’s like going into that mental state where you can really become a true sociopath.
Alex: Right, the other thing that I’ll mention just in terms of the coloring is throughout the sequence he is a silhouette. He doesn’t exist. He’s not there. He’s the absence of things. We’ve certainly seen that with the Hiroshima Lovers and other things. I don’t know if necessarily there’s a connection there. The main way that I took it was that he is not yet the person that he wants to be, and it isn’t until he becomes Ozymandias that he is colored.
Justin: Oh, that’s interesting. I liked that a lot. I took it as he’s a void. He’s part of the abyss. He doesn’t contribute anything, he just draws energy and everything into him because he’s a villain.
Pete: Yeah, I thought it was like he had been changing into the villain that he wanted to be.
Alex: Yeah. So regardless though, as we mentioned, he does kill the assistants. He buries them in snow instead of the sand. Here’s a thing we should probably touch on, the whole Ozymandias of it all, why he’s called Ozymandias. “Look on me, my works, ye mighty,” the rest of that is and despair. But the way that I always interpreted that poem and the way I think you interpret that poem, is they come on this broken statue of a man and there’s nothing around him. It says, “Look on my works,” and there’s no works around except for this broken statue of Ozymandias. How does that connect with the Ozymandias and the book? How does that connect with what he’s doing? I bring that up here because he’s clearly causing the destruction not just of New York, but of his Antarctic hideaway base at the same time.
Justin: He’s vivarium.
Justin: I think he’s romanticizing the term. He likes the idea, I think, that he’s this super villain who is created this whole thing in his secret plan to save the world, and no one will ever know the true source of it. Because he does have plans, I think after this to continue his business and go back to his life as Adrian Veidt the hero businessman. But the Ozymandias side is you’ll never see my works because I have erased it from the earth myself.
Alex: I thought it was an interesting thing you just said, Justin, in terms of him stealing from everybody and not making anything on his own, that essentially he is this parasite on the entire world because if you think about it, he hears all of Alexander’s things and he goes and travels that journey and it’s like, “How can I do this better? I want to do this better.” He hears about Ramsey and he wants to do it better. Dr. Manhattan, but he wants to do it better. He takes all of that, The Comedian, he wants to do it better. That might be the same thing, taking on the name Ozymandias being like, “Yeah, but that won’t be me. I’m going to do better than the guy that said, look on my works of despair because you actually will look on my works and despair because they will last forever.”
Justin: Yeah, I think that’s totally valid. He definitely has that taking credit for other people’s actions while never being that creative force on his own.
Pete: I just think the guy’s a super douche.
Justin: Or that. That is what Ozymandias translates to directly.
Alex: Well thank you. You speak fluent Greek, I believe, Latin.
Justin: Oz is super and manias is douche.
Alex: So then we do get a page of the newsstand, the wife of the therapist/psychiatrist who’s helping out [inaudible 00:38:19]. Comes around, is looking for him, is wondering if they’ve seen her around. There is a uncomfortable/comfortably hilarious exchange where the guy’s like, “Oh, why don’t you go to the Negro watchmaker up the street?” And she’s like, “Do you think we have a club? What are you talking about?” And he’s like, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” But what’s happening throughout this page is this exchange is interspersed with the man in the Black Freighter story. Seeing the Black Freighter itself and swimming towards it. I think what’s pretty clear is all of these people, as we see by the end of the issue, they’re all embroiled in this enormous fight. They’re swimming towards their own destruction, right? They’re swimming towards their own death.
Justin: Yeah, and to follow the Black Freighter line as he swims closer, trying to track down the answer to this mystery that’s plagued him, he realizes when he gets there, “Oh, I’m just joining this badness. All this time I’ve been fighting against this and I’m actually a part of it,” and he’s welcomed aboard and becomes one of the pirates of the Black Freighter.
Alex: Yeah. Now I want to talk about your favorite dude for a little bit, Pete, Rorschach, because then we get to the scene of Nite Owl and Rorschach sneaking into the hideout, touring through everything we’ve seen before. I think it’s pretty clear, at least to me, that Rorschach realizes how out of his depth he is almost immediately, and specifically I’ll call out two lines. As they’re outside, he says, “Palm trees buried in snow doesn’t make sense.” And then later on Dan is trying to open the door. He’s trying to open it with this laser, and is having a little bit of trouble the Rorschach says, “Nervous?” But Dan isn’t actually nervous. He’s fine. This is the sort of thing that he’s kind of used to. He’s just trying to figure it out, but I think Rorschach actually is nervous. I think he is scared of what’s going on because this is so much bigger than he ever could have imagined.
Justin: I 100% agree. In the last couple issues Rorschach has been so chatty. He’s been so verbose when they break into Adrian’s penthouse and find out all this information. He’s like talking for panels and panels, and in this section he is only speaking in sentence fragments, just like random little bits. I think he is terrified and I love the subtle way they present that.
Pete: I don’t know if it’s terrified, if he’s just kind of like taking it all in because they just rolled up on a secret layer that is really weird and freaky, and they’re kind of walking into… I think he’s just kind of like when you first go to a place you’re kind of looking around and soaking it in, and that’s how I feel.
Justin: No, I think he’s scared. He’s scared. He’s a scared cat.
Pete: You’re a douche
Justin: Do you mean Mandy is?
Alex: There’s one other thing that I wanted to point out. So as they’re walking through the base, we get to see a couple of rooms that we’ve seen before. We see the room with the big Alexander painting. We see the chamber where he transported the squid as we find out next issue. They walked through the stairs that he’s walked before. But right as they come in, we see a weird sort of doomed structure. Nite Owl says, I mean, what the hell is that thing? Half this equipment I don’t even recognize. Is that the chamber that created Dr. Manhattan or a version of it?”
Justin: Interesting, I mean, I had never thought that, but I guess it could be.
Alex: I don’t know, it just seems weird thing to call out in particular, right?
Pete: Yeah, kind of. It reminded me that’s the only thing we’ve seen close to anything like that. So you’ve got to kind of assume he tried to make his own Dr. Manhattan.
Alex: Yeah, if he wanted to do that, he probably should have gotten more blue Curacao. So then we get a two page sequence, a big fight sequence as Ozymandias takes down Nite Owl and Rorschach pretty handily. Pete, your dude taken out like a bitch. What’d you think?
Pete: Hey man, if you’re all class, he’s still fighting though. He’s still fighting.
Justin: Yes, he does. He uses his fork wisely.
Alex: So, the interesting thing, I think, about the structure of the issue here is the first half of the issue when he’s talking to the assistants, he’s repeating his past, right? He’s laying that all out. But then we get this big two page spread in the middle of this fight sequence that’s mostly silent, and then after that we get to see the superhero history that we’ve heard about and seen so far.
Alex: But through Ozymandias’ perspective, so it’s almost these two halves, these histories laying out. For the assistants who are part of the overall grand scheme, he’s laying out that part of the history. For the superheroes, he’s laying out the superhero history, is how I took that at least.
Justin: Oh yeah. I think that’s great. I mean, it fits nicely in the first part of his story and the second part of his story timing wise. But again, real cocky to be telling your plan literally while you’re fighting the heroes.
Alex: Yeah. On the Rorschach band, it’s so weirdly upsetting to see Ozymandias rotating his mask. I know that’s such a specific thing, but seeing him take his mask and kind of twist it so that what Rorschach has called his face isn’t on right makes be very sad for Rorschach in that moment.
Pete: I know.
Alex: Did you feel that way?
Pete: Yeah, that was definitely like a low blow.
Alex: Yeah, cool. Thank you for elaborating.
Justin: If I was fighting you and if I had just like shaved off your goatee while I was fighting you.
Alex: Oh, Jesus.
Justin: Which is what I will do with shaving cream.
Pete: Well, since I have a beard that would be weird that you would do that unless you were talking about going back in time to when I did have a goatee.
Justin: No, but your goatee is your power. I will shave just the goatee and leave the beard, which is even goofier.
Pete: I would have to turn it into old school mountain chops then.
Justin: Yeah. And who, who can walk around this planet with-
Pete: That’s a good point.
Alex: Yeah. It just reminded me of like if you had someone who’s shorter than you and you will hold their head and they’re just kind of flailing their arms and they can’t hit you that’s kind of what he was doing. It’s a super douche move, you know, just like you’re not even worth my time. I’m just gonna pull on your mask and that’s enough to make you useless.
Justin: But they’re not, I mean, they show up here and he dispatches them instantly and then they are literally just following him around while he tells more of his story. They’re there to stop him and then it’s like, “Oh cool. Yeah. Take us on a tour of your cool place.”
Alex: Yeah. Got any snacks? We’re pretty hungry. Any sugar cubes or anything like that? Love a good sugar cube. So they do want it around. He lays out the whole plan. He explains how he killed The Comedian. He gave several people cancer in order to frame Dr. Manhattan and get him off planet. He heard about Rorschach thing. I thought this was an interesting detail. It sounds like he didn’t plan his own assassination until Rorschach started sniffing around. So it’s interesting that there’s a certain level of improvisation to what Ozymandias is doing.
Justin: That’s smart.
Pete: But also like this plan, the odds of it working out are insane. He started his plan by just irradiating some random people, that’s wild. The only reason it seems cool is because we’re here at the end of it hearing how great it was. If he walked up to you and was like, “I have this plan to save the world. I’m just going to irradiate these strangers for the next couple of weeks.” It’s like, what dude are you talking about?
Alex: That’s a real chest move, man. He’s using the ponds that he has. I think it’s a boss move. I mean, when you think about it, there’s so many villain plants and never really happened.
Pete: That’s what I’m saying. This is like a guy who like you’re playing monopoly with and he’s like, “ha ha, I’m going to run waterworks.” It’s like, “Okay man, we’re going to quit in 20 minutes, so do whatever you want.”
Alex: But that also points to something that we’ve talked about all along, which even to he cops too, everybody calls him the smartest man in the world. He’s not actually the smartest man in the world. He’s very smart. But to your point, Justin, his Bain plan is I’m going to build this big bod stir, get a bunch of Hollywood screenwriters to work at it and then teleport it into New York, and then cool times everywhere at that, and then most of the rest of the plant is, ah, shit. I gotta do a bunch of cleanup on all these people that figured out my plan. What do I do now? He’s remaining very cool about it, but it’s not as perfect a plan as he wants to let on at all.
Justin: No, he fucked up.
Justin: When you got shove a pill in a dude’s mouth and the fountain of your own building, like-
Alex: Yeah, it’s going to slop. It’s getting sloppy. Yeah. So then we get to the moment we get to the big moment as the New York city streets starts to clear out from the fight that’s happening in the background, which itself is very sad because we do get to see this lesbian couple devolving into a fight we didn’t even touch on. There’s this incredibly sad moment, uh, where the grapher member of the couple who’s being broke up with he’s like,”I just want to sleep with you. I just want to fucking sleep with you. I just want to feel something. I just want to be happy. I want to die,” and starts beating her up and it broke my heart reading that. We see the same thing with the therapist and his wife where they’re having almost the same conversation Lori and Dr. Manhattan had about are people worth it or not? So do you save the earth or not?
Alex: And then Bernie and Bernie are having a very similar conversation where Dreiberg is like, “I don’t care what’s the big deal? We have the same Big birdy.” They’re completely falling apart across the board. And as that’s happened and things are tightening and simplifying with Ozymandias to we get that paddle where he says, “Do it… Dan? I’m not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I’d explained to my master stroke if there remain the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it 35 minutes ago.” And then we cut to that paddle of Night Owl and Rorschach stnding in front of the clocks. We see that it’s one minute to midnight in New York, and the streets of New York have cleared off. But of course this is all happening into the past. And that final page, we see all the characters seeing what’s happening, which we don’t find out until the next issue.
Alex: And then the ultimate heartbreak, Bernie and Bernie turned to each other. They hold each other as it happens after younger Bernie has said, “No, I don’t want anything to do with you, man. Leave me alone.” And they fade. And we end once again with the same splash pattern on the comedians button. But this time it’s the dissipated molecules of Bernie and Bernie who had been blown apart the same way Dr Manhattan was created and we’re left with one white panel just like the snow in the beginning. So sad.
Justin: So sad. The fact that they have the line of like, “What does it matter that we’re both named Bernie?” And then it actually is the most meaningful thing at the end that they were, had a somewhat of a connection and there with each other when they die, such a great subtle little little package.
Alex: Well then it pays off. Like we touched on earlier in the podcast, all of these various things that of course aren’t randomly thrown in there, but feel like they’re similarly randomly throw it in there. Like the newspaper people like the therapist, all of these characters. We lived with them so long beyond the “main characters” in the book. All for this moment. Also, we could feel this moment and understand the weight of this moment. Pete, how did it hit you?
Pete: I mean it just it sucked man. Who really was it’s such a powerful ending after like such a Oh shit moment. It’s like, you know, you really feel it.
Alex: Yeah. And then the back matter of course is a rolling stone style interview where the interviewer puts themselves in the interview way too much where he’s talking to Ozymandias. Of note it takes place in 1975, which is about when he has started to kick his plan off. We have about 10 years there where he’s putting it into action. So there’s little hints there. There’s little touches there, but already you get a sense of where Ozymandias is heading even though the guy himself doesn’t realize it. Any final thoughts about this issue?
Justin: Just like I, like I said before, the storytelling here though, the way it all culminates here, we have gotten all of the heroes sort of origins and at this point all the characters origins and now we’re here at this final point moment where the trap is sprung and it’s just great.
Justin: I live for the day when I can somehow get captured the moment of like, Oh, I did it 35 minutes ago.
Alex: Yeah. Pete, any final thoughts from you?
Justin: I’m spent, dude.
Alex: Oh, man. [crosstalk 00:52:15]-
Justin: Well, I just think that we covered it. it’s a powerful ending.
Alex: It is absolutely a powerful landing and this is a powerful ending to our podcast. If you’d like to support us, patrion.com/comicbookclub. Also, we do a live show every Tuesday night at 8:00 PM at the People’s Improv Theater loft in New York. Come on by. We’ll chat with you about Watchman. You can follow us at Watchman watch podcast on Instagram and Facebook. WatchmanWatchone on Twitter, comic book club alive to up for this podcast, and many more. Also, subscribe and please comment on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Android, or the app of your choice. And remember, we taped this podcast. Oh God, I’m forgetting. What was it, how long ago. in the past? Oh yes. Six weeks. Six weeks. Yeah. We taped this a week ago. Oh, Alan texted. He’s definitely gonna be here next week for the last dish. I don’t believe him.