Monday, August 25, 2008
Watchmen Book Club: Chapter V
Chapter V: Fearful Symmetry
Three storylines play out in this chapter: Rorschach, still on the trail of this killer of masked superheroes, calls upon Edgar Jacobi once again; he's connected the dots that we hopefully already did -- that Blake had ranted to Jacobi about a "list" with Jacobi and Janey Slater on it, and now the allegations that Dr. Manhattan had given, among others, Jacobi and Slater cancer have driven him off-world. One more superhero out of the mix. Unfortunately for Rorschach, he hits up Jacobi once too often and ends up getting framed for Jacobi's murder. And, insult to injury, he's unmasked.
Meanwhile, Dan invites Laurie to come bunk with him, the better to intensify his lifetime of blue balls. (Lucky for Dan, Laurie's totally used to being around blue balls.) And Adrian Veidt narrowly evades an assassination attempt, which appears to validate Rorschach's "mask killer" theory once and for all.
This is all combined with a whole lot of Tales of the Black Freighter, including an end-tag chapter from a comics anthology detailing the history of the title and its estranged author and artist.
I think this is another one where I'm going to let you guys lead the discussion, but a few things:
-- Loved Rorschach referring to his mask as his "skin." The artwork really conveys the trauma when it's ripped off of him.
-- Interesting to compare the hero of the Black Freighter story to Rorschach: they're both using the bloated corpses around them (the sailor literally, Rorschach metaphorically in his dealings with city dwellers) in order to, for lack of a better term, save the world.
-- Funny seeing all these characters talk about how nobody would be crazy enough to start WWIII, when just in the last chapter we got that inset talking about how the Russians just might be that crazy.
-- Maybe my favorite thing from this whole chapter, the line in the epilogue about Black Freighter writer Max Shea's controversial, "blatantly pornographic" renderings of classic literary tales is pretty much a blueprint for Moore's later work on the blatantly pornographic rendering of classic literary heroines in Lost Girls.
-- I almost forgot to mention, but props to Aaron in the comments section from Chapter IV for mentioning the symmetrical layout of this chapter, with Veidt's assassination attempt at the center and everything else bookending that.