Monday, September 01, 2008
Watchmen Book Club: Chapter VII
Chapter VII: A Brother to Dragons
So we've come to our Dan Dreiberg-centered chapter. As you might expect, it's full of all the uptight nerdery that characterizes our second Nite Owl. As you might not have expected, it's also full of flabby man-ass.
The anal-retentive nature of Dan is underlined, bold-faced, and italicized. It's all awesome. His behemoth of an airship could easily be the most badass thing in the city, but seeing all the meticulously labeled buttons, the jazz music that plays for its rescued passengers, even the name ("Archimedes") all serve to undercut any coolness. It's a huge contrast, of course, to the Rorschachs and Comedians of the world. Dan's idealistic, nostalgic (not a coincidence that this is the chapter we get the first reference to Adrian Veidt's "Nostalgia" cologne), and sentimental. "Soft," as Rorschach would say, but a decent man. And yet, for the last 10 years, he's watched the city degrade into violence and hopelessness and he's done nothing. You can see why Rorschach would despise that.
Similarly, Laurie's unwavering distaste for men like Rorschach, underlined once again as she and Dan discuss his imprisonment, certainly helpss her seduction of Dan make sense. The juxtaposition of Veidt's feats of gymnastics on the TV while Dan is getting back on the horse, so to speak, was priceless. And yet, surprise surprise, Dan finds himself impotent. It's an incredibly obvious metaphor, to be honest, even before Dan pretty much makes it explicit later in the chapter.
Obvious or not, that impotence drives Dan to take up his costume, and indeed his manhood (as wearying a theme as that tends to be), and take to the sky again, this time with Laurie by his side. (The fact that Laurie either still has her old Silk Spectre costume or was able or improvise one out of a bathrobe and negligee tells me she shares at least a bit of Dan's nostalgia.) So Dan gets to save the day for the victims of a tenement fire, then gets to successfully bone Laurie, and finally, his transformation back to superhero now complete, he wants to rescue Rorschach. Much to Laurie's chagrin.
-- I'm not sure if Laurie was comforted very much by Dan's reveal that the Comedian made the same lighter/flame-thrower mistake she did.
-- Yet another mention of missing writer Max Shea. Hmmm.
-- When Dan and Laurie head toward the tenement fire, the panel shows Archimedes as a silhouette in front of the moon, so that the moon looks like an eyeball. LOVED that. Watching the Watchmen indeed.
-- Laurie's inherent grumpiness flowers into gorgeous bloom during the evacuation ("Listen, I'm Smokey the Bear's secret mistress...").
We're certainly hitting our stride as we head into the book's final five chapters. How's everybody liking it so far?