Friday, August 15, 2008

Watchmen Book Club: Chapter III

Chapter III: The Judge of All the Earth

Sorry I didn't post anything yesterday -- I'm out of town. Which also means I'm going to need you lovely people to do the heavy lifting in the Chapter III discussion. How are you liking things so far? What happened in Chapter III that got your mind working. Your barebones summary of this chapter is as follows:

Laurie breaks up with Jon the morning of his TV interview, in which he's ambushed with questions about people he's known throughout his life getting diagnosed with cancer and whether Jon's connection to them isn't a coincidence.

Distraught and confused, Jon teleports himself to the Arizona desert...and then to Mars.

With Dr. Manhattan vacationing off-planet, the Russians gather their nards and invade Afghanista. Nuclear war appears iminent.

Laurie, meanwhile, finds a shoulder to cry on in Dan, and when they get jumped in an alleyway, their old superhero instinct kick in and they kick some righteous ass.

This is also the first we see of the "Tales of the Black Freighter" comic-within-a-comic and the chatty newsstand operator/Greek chorus. We'll talk more about that in subsequent chapters.

For now: the thread is yours.


sb said...

Since I'm at work right now and don't have the book handy, I'll post my thoughts later, but is anyone else minorly weirded out reading this now with all the stuff going on between Russia and Georgia?

Mertseger said...

As Mathew Baldwin of Defective Yeti twittered recently: "War in Afghanistan, rising US / Russia tensions. This WATCHMEN ad campaign is amazing."

jessica said...

I don't know how I feel about the comic within. It seemed to take me out of the rest of the story somewhat, though the newsman and finally an interaction with the sign-carrier hovering around the previous chapters sparked my interest.

Once again, I find myself irritated with Laurie. I don't know that I wouldn't be irritated with Jon for working and making love to me at the same time, but it does seem like he's making an effort. And she immediately runs to Dan again, which really triggers my internal alarms. After their encounter with the thugs I almost expected the adrenaline and emotion to lead to a romantic embrace.

I was hoping this chapter -- especially the excerpt from Mason's book -- to give some insight into the origins of Dr. Manhattan, but I guess that will have to wait. The only hint was the picture he picked up in Arizona. The woman is obviously Janey Slater, and I assume the man is Jon Osterman before he became his big blue self. Who was he then? What happened to him? Was he always emotionally distant with his lovers? Do Janey's complaints stem from before his transformation or after? Does she really think he gave her lung cancer when she smokes cigarettes the length of her forearm?

Also noted: Dan uses the Gordian Knot Lock Co. This obviously is meant to say something, and I'm wondering what the significance is of Rorschach being the one to defeat the lock.

sb said...

Word to being irritated by Laurie. I'm not sure why she bugs me so much, but she does.

The "Tales of the Black Freighter" comic is actually one of my favorite parts. I love the Golden Age-style art and how the story mirrors and parallels the main narrative. It appeals to my inner literature geek. Actually, the attack on Dan and Laurie parallels the attack of the media on Dr. Manhattan, too. Moore does a lot of that reflection/parallelism thing throughout, and it makes for a very cleverly put together story.

That Bootleg Guy said...

The whole sequence with Laurie and the many fingers of Jon really weirded me out. Although the look of horror on her mug juxtaposed with Jon's blank stare was a neat image.

I don't wanna be "that guy", but the insanely dated "jive" comment and "SHEE-it" expletive from the Black guy at the newsstand was a minor annoyance.

Finally, I always find myself marveling at how far we've come in 20 years, as Laurie managed to avoid news of Jon's departure from earth for an entire evening. Today, her Blackberry would be blowing up (as the kids would say).

jessica said...

Isn't "that [bootleg] guy" your whole persona? =)

I do love the parallel nature of the book thus far, the way one story is being told while another is unfolding in the artwork. It's a wonderfully clever device and those sections have consistently been my favorites.

I wonder why Laurie came back that next day. To pack a bag? To make up with Jon? Because it was the easiest way for Moore to have her find out about his departure? She was obviously expecting him there, so I wonder what her motivation was for returning.

Greg said...

This chapter was the first to really use the thing where there are two stories going on at once and the word balloons from one story carry over to the other (and also relate to the other story). It works really well.

I was surprised at how easily Doc Manhattan flipped out. It was interesting that he was pretty much Ok until they mentioned his ex. But I would think he would be more logical than that (especially since it wouldn't seem that surprising to me that 3 people he had met had gotten cancer, that doesn't seem like much of a shocking revelation). I did like the army guy referred to him as a random force of nature.

And it was interesting how even though he didn't show up this issue Veidt was everywhere with the ads for "The Veidt Method" and Nostalgia perfume/cologne (Rorschach stole a bottle from Dan).

I did like the call back to the fact that Dan didn’t have any sugar cubes, because Rorschach, stole them in the first issue (and was eating them when he went to see Laurie and Jon).

Mathan said...

I just want to say that I'm loving this whole book club. I've read this graphic novel a few times and reading your responses to it unfolding chapter by chapter is really making me regret that I don't have a copy handy.

But these posts and the comments that follow are reminding me of everything I enjoyed about this story.