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Watchmen Watch

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A TV and Film podcast featuring Alexander Zalben, Justin Tyler and Pete LePage
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Watchmen Watch is a podcast about all things Watchmen, recapping the new HBO TV show from Damon Lindelof, the comic by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, and the movie from Zack Snyder. Featuring deep dives, Easter eggs, and a whole lot more.

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Watchmen Watch: Issue #2, “Absent Friends”
It’s time for Eddie Blake’s funeral, and everyone is having fond memories about the departed Comedian. Just kidding, he was a monster, as we discover through flashbacks and stories. But how much does the extremely non-comedic Comedian represent America? And comic book characters of the time? Find out, as we break down Watchmen #2, “Absent Friends.” SUBSCRIBE TO WATCHMEN WATCH ON ITUNES, ANDROID, SPOTIFY, STITCHER, OR RSS. FOLLOW US ON TWITTER, INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK. SUPPORT OUR SHOWS ON PATREON. 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:                 Welcome to Watchmen Watch, a podcast about HBO’s Watchmen where we watch Watchmen, talk about Watchmen and watch you watching the Watchmen. I’m Alex. Justin:              I’m Justin. Pete:                I’m Pete. Alex:                 And we are going to be talking about the second issue of the Watchmen comic book series as we ramp up to the HBO series here. Very exciting. It’s coming out October 20th. We know that now. Justin:              We know that now. Alex:                 It has been known. We’re very excited. Pete:                10/20. Alex:                 But to bone up, we’re reading through the book. So, issue two, this is not called Almost Friends as I wanted to call it. Justin:              No. And it’s not called Friends, the pilot of the TV show Friends. Alex:                 Right, because Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons were on a break. Justin:              That’s true. We should mention Alan Moore can’t be here today. Alex:                 Right. Justin:              Our fourth host for this podcast. He texted me. I accidentally told him we were meeting at a campsite outside of Stonehenge. We had a mix-up. Alex:                 Oh, okay. Pete:                How can you accidentally mix up this address with that address? Justin:              Just a classic mix-up. Alex:                 Auto-text, right? Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 I hate that. Justin:              I meant to write the pit loft where we tape our show. Instead I wrote a campsite just outside of Stonehenge. So, he’s there. It’s my bad because he was definitely showing up this week, but I texted him back. He’s totally fine with the mix-up. Alex:                 Oh, he’s going to be back next week? Justin:              He’ll be back next week. Pete:                It kind of works out because the title of this is Absent Friend, and he’s our absent friend. Justin:              That’s true. He said the same thing. Alex:                 Oh, that’s very true. Absent Friend, not Almost Friends because me and Alan Moore almost hooked up that one time. Justin:              That’s true. Pete:                Really? Yeah. Justin:              And he’s not weird about it. That’s not the real reason he’s not showing up. Pete:                Was that at that San Diego Comic Con when you were wasted, and you almost hooked up with him? Justin:              Careful. Don’t start- Alex:                 I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to kiss and tell. Justin:              Don’t start talking about San Diego Comic Cons and being wasted, Pete. Pete:                Yeah. What? Justin:              You know what you did. Pete:                I was the one who told Jim Lee he was the king of San Diego. Justin:              No, that’s true. You tried to smoke a joint with … Pete:                I didn’t try. Alex:                 This is very far off field. Pete:                Yeah, I didn’t try nothing. Alex:                 Let’s talk about Watchmen, you guys. So, chapter two of the book, issue number two, Absent Friends. Definitely going to remember that by the end of the episode. So, to get you guys caught up, there has been a murder of Eddie Blake. Rorschach is investigating it, and that’s pretty much kind of where we pick up this issue. But I got to say as we’re going back through this, I know I said this the last time as well, good comic. Pete:                Man, great comic. Alex:                 This is a good comic. Justin:              Great comic. Pete:                Also, it was nice to see Blue Man Group put on a suit for the funeral. I thought that was very classy of him. Alex:                 That is rude to Doctor Manhattan. I do want to seriously say, though, I know we mentioned this last episode. It continues to be surprising to me, and it shouldn’t be, how good Watchmen is. Justin:              100% agree. It’s crazy how good this is, how much Alan Moore is mixing up here. It’s important to remember when you’re re-reading this or reading it for the first time, this shit had never been done before. The idea of mixing up a comic this dark where the characters have sort of nothing going for them or they’re all failing super hard. To see that and to see all the references to comic book history, topical politics when he was writing this, and just science, science fiction, everything, world events. It’s amazing. Alex:                 And to give it even more context, the comic book industry was going through this massive change at this point when this is being published. Who knows, necessarily, when it was written, but 1985 you had Crisis of Infinite Earths that condensed the entire DC Universe, had huge events. Killed off The Flash, killed off Supergirl. So, those were traumatic in their own ways for superhero fans, and then on the other side of the fence in Marvel, you had Secret Wars, which is this big marketing grab that changed characters in a very different way and brought all of these superheroes together. This always gets lumped in with The Dark Knight. Was that ’84, I want to say? Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 Something like that. So, this was in ’86, so they get lumped together as they’re these other takes while DC was going darker and darker and Marvel was going light but more complicated in a very different way. Justin:              Going big, I guess you could say. Alex:                 Going big in a very different way. This was huge. This was promoted very heavily, but this almost eschews superheroics. That’s one the things I was really struck by with this issues, is we got the murder mystery thing going on, but whenever there’s a fight, they cut away from it. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 That’s not the point of what’s going on. The point is the characters. Pete:                I got a little confused, but thank you for explaining it when you said shoes superheroics. I didn’t know what- Alex:                 Eschew. Eschew. Pete:                Oh. Alex:                 Which is different than his shoe. Justin:              Yeah. Pete:                I thought you meant it shooes it like, “Shoo, get away heroics.” Justin:              Oh, I see. Alex:                 I’ll tell you what, you should listen to our spelling podcast, which is very different. We read through- Pete:                You joke about me slurring words, but … Justin:              E-S-C-H-E-W-S. Alex:                 Yes. Eschews. Justin:              Not cashews, which was another thing he says a lot. Pete:                I’m just saying. Glass house, motherfucker. Alex:                 The interesting thing about this though is The Comedian eschews shoes and cashews for this issue. Pete:                Wow. Justin:              That’s true. Wow. Pete:                I would also like to point out not only … We got into this a little bit in talking about the last issue, but the panels are amazingly put together, but the transitions … Instead of just showing a flashback, it’s the light off a picture frame that reminds her of flash photography that brings her this flashback. Just really smart things. Alex:                 The structure of this issue, to get to it a little bit, is Eddie Blake’s funeral. We get to see flashbacks from everybody, whether they’re there or not, to the past. We find out a lot more about the event that was hinted at the last issue, which was Eddie Blake’s assault of, not Laurie Jupiter, Sally Jupiter. The first Silk Spectre. So, we find out a lot more about that as well as other aspects of all of the character’s lives and their relationships to Eddie Blake. We find out more about him as The Comedian. But the interesting thing about this issue, I think structurally, to your point Justin, the first issue tracks very heavily in very specific juxtaposition where you get the text and the images are not fighting against each other, but complement each other in a different way. You get that here, but it’s much more about the actions where you see Dr. Manhattan at the funeral, but he’s also potentially in another time at the same time, flashing back to his relationship with Eddie. It’s much more about a temporal juxtaposition than a spatial juxtaposition like it is in the first issue. Justin:              The first issue moves so quickly through a lot of sort of superhero tropes. It just takes them as accepted that they were a superteam, and the past was a lighter, more fun period just like the way comic history went. So, the juxtaposition now of actually seeing that backstory and the temporal shifts that all the characters go through, I think it really sets up what’s coming forward and gives context to what we read in the last issue. Alex:                 The other thing that’s interesting with the whole superteam of it all is we get to meet two “superteams” in this issue. The first on is the Minutemen, which is like an analog of the Justice Society of America but without super powers. They’re all masked vigilantes. It seems a little bit more like a social club. That’s really only how we get to see them together. We never get to see them fight crime together. The second one is the Crimebusters, which as far as we can tell, meets once, and that’s it. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 Nothing else happens with them, so again, it’s Moore and Gibbons and company really eschewing the superhero-ness, the structure of it, where we would expect, okay, there’s a team get together and then some big event breaks them apart, but in this case, it’s just not the right time. Justin:              Yeah. And they’re not the right people, and it doesn’t make sense. That’s what’s also so good about this is being a superhero never makes sense for any of these characters in this comic, and it’s great. They’re either way off, they’re not good people, or they’re just way beyond it like Doctor Manhattan. Alex:                 We talked about this a little bit in the first two episodes of the podcast with Rorschach, and I think this very heavily comes up here in terms of how people misinterpret Watchmen that being a superhero is bad. It is clearly a bad thing to do, it’s not a good lifestyle choice. There’s nothing to hope for, and in fact, there’s a pretty good argument to be made, particularly after this issue, that the rise of superheroes leads to a worse world than we are currently in. They do not make it better the way that they do in the DC Comics Universe or the Marvel Comics Universe. Their addition cuts down on crime maybe, but it makes things ultimately worse. Justin:              Yeah. Should we walk through the issue a little bit? Alex:                 Yeah, sure. Well, actually before we do though, there was one thing, an overall thing that I wanted to talk about which is The Comedian. He’s the focus of this issue. His character is the focus of this issue. He’s not that funny, it seems. Justin:              No, he’s a dick. Alex:                 That’s surprising with his name the way it is. Justin:              Yeah. What a weird accident. Alex:                 Yeah. Pete:                You want to stop and explore that some more? Justin:              He should have been The Tragedian. Alex:                 Well, I mean, this gets back to the juxtaposition as well, right? The Comedian, do you think … He certainly makes this argument, but do you think The Comedian is the one who actually sees the world the way it is? Is he actually seeing some joke there, or is it the juxtaposition of, well, he is The Comedian, but he’s not funny at all? Justin:              I think, yeah, it’s the juxtaposition. In the original Minutemen, he’s the goofiest, yet he’s the one who assaults Sally Jupiter. In this issue, he’s wearing an old-timey, Italian clown uniform. Then later in Crimebusters, he’s just being a regular dick, and he’s sort of dressed like a ’90s superhero. He actually dresses like NFL SuperPro a little bit. Alex:                 Yeah, he does a little bit. Justin:              Which is a funny connection. I doubt that was purposeful. And then, you see him doing more horrible things. He shoots a woman who is carrying his baby in Vietnam, and we get to see that happen, and then The Comedian moving forward. I think he’s meant to be a reflection of the time, the different time periods. Back in the ’50s, ’60s, everything is bright and sunny, but all the horrifying things are happening behind closed doors. In Vietnam, it’s like Americans are being horrible overseas. It is that sort of satirical take and juxtaposing this thing called The Comedian. The bright veneer we paint over everything overlays horrifying actions. Alex:                 He is definitely a representation of America. I think that’s very clear. It’s possible he might also be Alan Moore commentating on comedy in comic books because Alan Moore, maybe not so much at this time, but famously hates comic books. We know that when we hang out with him off of this podcast. Justin:              Yeah, let me text him that question and see what he says. Alex:                 Yeah, well, maybe he can bring it up on the next episode, but comic book superheroes aren’t actually usually very funny, and so it’s possible he might be amping that up because he is one of the only ones that actually acts like a comic book superhero. It might be that he’s hitting this very old-timey kind of humor, which is like, “Hey toots, why don’t you take off your dress?” And everybody is like, “Haha,” but it’s not actually funny in a particular way. Justin:              It’s saying the horrifying thing or saying the thing that this person actually wants to happen. Alex:                 Exactly. So, that all said, I was curious because I think that’s an overall character thing that we delve into pretty deeply in this issue. But, yeah, let’s walk through it. Justin:              The first couple scenes we have here are Laurie talking to her mom. They don’t get along very well. Sally sort of wishes she was young again, basically, and is sort of bitter about the world, saying she would rather go back to the life she had back then even though it’s horrible. They set up the sexual assault from The Comedian. Alex:                 This also ties into something that we find out later, which is … Not Laurie. Sally. Justin:              Sally. Alex:                 I keep mixing them up. Sally does not like herself very much. They pull out that Tijuana Bible or whatever it is that has her in a cartoon form. Somebody is having sex with her. Laurie hates it. Sally kind of likes it, and is flattered by it. It’s, again, not to keep using the word juxtaposition, but it’s a very interesting juxtaposition of as terrible as things were for her, she has this sadness and vanity about the olden times. Again, if you get into the comic book of it all because really, if nothing else, Watchmen is a comic book that is commenting on comic books, you can look at that as that nostalgia for the “golden age of comic books” that, “Bad things happened, but overall, wasn’t it so wonderful, and everything was so beautiful. Wasn’t that great?” Justin:              Yeah. Someone who would dress up in a costume … None of these people have powers. They’re just regular people, and be like, “I’m going to go do this,” is goofy and vain. Alex:                 Right. Justin:              To take that for real, I thought, is interesting. Alex:                 And we find out more about that, I believe, in the under the hood section at the end where Hollis Mason talks about she was the first one to be like, “Hey, I’ll have a PR agent. What do you think about that?” She did it for the PR more than anything, more than the crime fighting. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 So, that’s sad. It’s a sad character. Justin:              Indeed. So, we flash from that, as Pete said, from the picture frame in the reflection to a flashbulb where we get to see Sally and the rest of the Minutemen. Their costumes are all sort of goofy, I mean, very much like the actual golden age comics where it’s ridiculous. Dave Gibbons does such a good job of showing them as goofy people, and then you see this horrifying sexual assault scene where they’re all in their costumes, but they’re talking like regular people doing horrifying things. Alex:                 There’s an interesting thing that happened in the first issue as well. I mean, it’s a pretty typically camera angle thing which is, again, one of the things that I don’t think was unique necessarily to this comic book but that Dave Gibbons did so well is using [filmic 00:14:30] framing angles for things. There’s a shot, I believe, of The Comedian on the floor between Hooded Justice’s legs, which is very similar to a shot of The Comedian from the first issue where it’s showing that Hooded Justice is dominant over him. Even if The Comedian pushes himself as this uber mal, he’s really not. The other thing that happens, I believe … I don’t remember which panel it is, but one of the panels in there, there’s a splash of blood on The Comedian that he’s wiping off that is the same as the splash of blood that’s on the button from the first issue. Justin:              Yeah. Pete:                Wow. Justin:              Showing that when he dies, he’s still marred by all these horrifying things he’s done. He’s not a hero at all, and he goes out as not a hero. Alex:                 Yeah. Again, I know we keep going back to, “Hey, great comic.” Big surprise, but it’s also the layers of preparation that they clearly did to put this together. This is very different from a modern comic book where it doesn’t get the chance to plan it in advance, right? Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 You got to meet that monthly schedule, so at most, they have three to four issues ready before they go. Here, I don’t know this for a fact, but I have to assume they had everything planned out before they were ready to go. Justin:              It’s so meticulous. Every frame, every panel means something. The last panel of this scene, you see Hooded Justice who stops the assault is still such a jerk to Sally. He doesn’t help her really. He says, “Get up, and for God’s sake, cover yourself.” He’s the hero of that scene, and he’s still a monster. She is surrounded by monsters. And then, it cuts right back to this Tijuana Bible thing, and it just shows that, yes, she’s unhappy, but she’s dealt with all these horrifying things all the time. Alex:                 Right. Well, let’s talk about Hooded Justice for a second. He’s just a fascinating character who isn’t dealt with, as far as I remember, a ton in the comic book series. But he’s the first hero that comes out. He’s the one that sparks all of it, but he’s also the only one that really fully hides his face. Justin:              Yeah, you never see it. Alex:                 Right. Part of that, if I remember correctly, he’s gay, right? Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 I think that’s what- Pete:                Because that’s the joke The Comedian makes when he’s being beaten up by him. He’s like, “You’re liking this, aren’t you?” That makes the Hooded Justice stop. Alex:                 Right. That makes him stop, and that’s why he takes that pain and that shame of being homosexual and throws it right back on her. Again, this is painting the times that they live in, the fact that it isn’t necessarily accepted at all. He’s scared of it coming out and people finding him out, so he takes it out on Sally. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 But yeah, then we get this memory from Adrian Veidt. This was another interesting thing that I was reading some notes on this. I didn’t necessarily every pick up on this before, but Ozymandias’s costume is the same colors, I believe, as The Comedian’s original costume. So, if anything, there’s something there in terms of him picking up from where The Comedian left off. Justin:              Purple and yellow, being the villain. Alex:                 Right. It’s almost a reverse. Looking at this panel right now, we’re looking at the big panel of the first meeting of the Crimebusters, and Ozymandias has this purple swoop versus the part that left over … The part that is yellow on his neck is the part that was purple on The Comedian, so in a way, he’s almost the opposite of The Comedian. Justin:              Right. That’s cool. They’re not facing each other. This, we get Captain Metropolis who is forming the Crimebusters. He’s still in the golden age dressed like a goof. Then, it’s this random mix of people. Ozymandias, we talked about his costume, but he’s also dressed like a god as opposed to everyone else that’s sort of in various stages of superhero dress. The fact that he ends up sort of coming out of here squeaky clean based on his confidence, basically, is interesting I think. Alex:                 The other thing that’s fascinating about this scene, particularly when you’re going through the book a second time, which wouldn’t have been ultimately clear the first time through, is this is Adrian Veidt’s memory of this meeting of the Crimebusters where Captain Metropolis is proposing this plan. He says, “Look at all these things going on in the world.” It’s fascinating that he mentions, I think, it’s promiscuity and other things like that. The Comedian is like, “This sucks. This is a stupid plan. You’re never going to do this. You just got to burn it all down and figure out what to do next,” and Adrian Veidt is looking at the map. Through the lens of this just being the second issue and us thinking Ozymandias is a hero and the smartest man alive, you would think he’s lamenting it. He’s going, “Oh, no, we can save the world. We can figure out another way to do this. This is so sad.” But in actuality, The Comedian is giving Adrian his plan. Justin:              Yeah. And you see it right in the second to last panel of the scene where Ozymandias is looking at the burn page with the words, “Somebody has to save the world.” It’s all right there. Alex:                 Yes. That’s something that I think is very undervalued about this series in particular is what a good mystery it is. It’s very well-constructed as a mystery, not just as a superhero series. Not just in terms of the characters and the commentary on it, but the fact that it is a very good mystery that you really cannot figure out until the end, but all the clues are there the entire time. Justin:              Yeah, and that’s why on a second and third read, you really get to see so much more as it’s going. We get this next scene with Doctor Manhattan’s memory of his time in Vietnam with The Comedian. It’s just horrifying. The Comedian is being reckless. He shoots this woman after she cuts his face, revealing that she’s pregnant, and Doc Manhattan doesn’t stop him, even though he definitely could. Alex:                 Yeah. The other thing, one thing that I’ll mention that’s also great about these memories, these stories that we get throughout, is we are learning more about Eddie Blake as we go, plot-wise, but really we’re learning about the characters who are remembering the stories. The big thing with Doctor Manhattan here is he doesn’t stop Eddie Blake from shooting a pregnant woman. He’s also standing in the middle of a table at the time and doesn’t notice it. So, what we find out about Doctor Manhattan is, even at this early point in his career, he’s already retreated from humanity. He can’t relate to human beings. Justin:              Yeah. He doesn’t feel. He’s almost sociopathic in his understanding of the situation. He’s just like a scientist viewing it from afar without any empathy for the situation. Pete:                Yeah, and that kind of really shows in the way he’s standing in the table, and it’s the same stance as … In both places, he’s looking over a dead body. Alex:                 Yeah. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 And then, we get the Owlship flashback, right? Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 Now this is where we get to see the new mask that The Comedian is wearing. It’s a full face mask. Looks like a gimp mask, which he likes to torture people, so I think that’s at least part of the inspiration that’s going on there. But to set it in time, I believe, this is when the Vietnam War either kicked off, or they dropped the bomb or something like that. It’s one of those moments. It’s not particularly clear in the book, but we get to see them going to the streets, trying to act like superheroes, and I believe this is what ultimately leads to the Keen Act, which is the act they pass where they shut down vigilantes except for government-sponsored ones, clearly leading into the Ironman-Captain America civil war that happens later in the series. Justin:              100%, yeah. That’s, I think, issue nine. Alex:                 It’s weird that they brought them in at that point, but it worked really well. Justin:              This is where we fully get a look at the phrase, “Who watches the Watchmen,” being painted in the wall, which has been sort of alluded- Alex:                 But still not completely. Justin:              Not completed. Alex:                 It’s still blocked. Justin:              But it’s the first time it’s featured. Alex:                 Right. Justin:              So, really starting to get … I think that’s sort of the completion of the first act almost, or the table is set for the rest of the story. This is sort of just a dark … Everything sucks with these characters. Owl Man is just like, “Don’t do that.” Alex:                 Nite Owl. Justin:              Sorry, Nite Owl. I keep saying that wrong. Alex:                 You keep calling him Owl Man. Justin:              Yeah, I don’t know why. Alex:                 There is a character called Owl Man. Justin:              It’s true. Nite Owl, I just never have liked his name. Alex:                 Really? Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 Why not? Justin:              Because it’s a phrase as opposed to a name. Alex:                 Yeah. Well, that’s where it comes from. Hollis Mason talks about that in Under the Hood. He says that he was looking for name. He wasn’t sure what to do, and he would never go out to a drink with this co-worker of his. Instead he wanted to go workout because he was trying to figure out how to be a superhero. He was like, “Oh, you’re always such a night owl,” and he was like, “Yeah, Nite Owl. That’s me.” Justin:              Yeah. Again, stupid. Not a great origin story. Alex:                 The existence of Nite Owl implies the existence of a day owl. Justin:              That’s true. Find the day owl. We get a moment where the new Nite Owl has Comedian’s pin, a clean one, no blood on it, and throws it onto the grave. I feel like what is this? What is this supposed to mean? Why is he the one that throws the pin? Alex:                 Dan? Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 I don’t know. These parallel, the way the button falls down is very similar to the way the button falls down in the first issue. So, it’s some sort of parallel on him dying again, right? Or putting the final nail in the coffin or something like that? Justin:              Yeah. Maybe setting him up as more of the hero here or keying him as the main character. Not sure. Alex:                 Yeah. I mean, there’s also some stuff in here with him approaching Doctor Manhattan when already Dan, whether Doctor Manhattan knows it or not, has become his romantic rival for Laurie’s affections. Justin:              Yes. Nobody knows it really here. Alex:                 Right. But it’s pretty clear when you’re reading it that it’s setting them up. There’s that shot of them having the handshake where it’s like, “Oh, here we go.” Justin:              Yeah. Doc Manhattan is just looking around. “Who’s going to try to fuck my wife,” is what he’s thinking. Alex:                 Which one of you fuckers … Justin:              Rorschach leaves silently. And then, we get this great, awesomely drawn sequence of Rorschach going after Moloch, the former villain for Doc Manhattan. Pete:                This is when the shading and lighting of the panels really takes off. From this point on, it’s really just unbelievably beautiful. Alex:                 Yeah. The Moloch thing is interesting because it introduces supervillains who were teased, I was about to say weirdly enough, but appropriately enough during the rape/assault sequence. That’s the time where you get to see their trophy room. You get to see a lens that Moloch set up before which paints him as sort of this goofy, ’60s-style villain. Sort of very Adam West, Batman-y-style villain, which obviously he’s not here at the end. We also see, it’s called Killer Ape or Gorilla Man or something like that. There’s some sort of mask in the trophy room as well, which I think emphasizes the animalistic nature of what Eddie Blake is doing to Sally at that moment. But we never really see any supervillain action. To the point of the superheroics, we haven’t really had them established other than that glimpse. Here, we finally get to see Moloch, and he is a cancer-ridden husk of himself. Justin:              Yeah. Sad. You wonder how this man could have ever threatened Doctor Manhattan who is all-powerful, basically. He tells this story of The Comedian coming to visit him and basically saying, “The world is fucked,” after he’s realized sort of the plot that we ourselves, the reader, find out later. Alex:                 He talks about the island a little bit. He talks about some writers and other things, I believe, throughout the scene, which teases again. If you’re reading it through the second time, you know that Veidt is setting up this big story and teasing and building this thing, but it’s very unclear exactly what The Comedian is talking about at this point to anybody who hasn’t read Watchmen. Justin:              Yeah. And he sets up Janie Slater who is Doctor Manhattan’s first wife, I believe, which we learn about later on in the series. It’s just such a haunting scene because you are seeing it through the eyes of this ruined villain, and it just sets up all this tension that we have no idea, this conspiracy that really put The Comedian to his death. It really feeds in to Rorschach’s panic and his actual believing. He’s a conspiracy theorist, and this is proving to be true. Alex:                 Well, to the point, I may have the time period a little bit wrong, but if The Comedian is a reflection of America in a very similar way to Captain America is over in Marvel Comics, this is the point, the late ’70s, early ’80s or so when America started to realize, “Oh, wait. We’ve fucked everything up.” Justin:              Yeah. American disillusionment. Alex:                 Exactly. It certainly came earlier than that, but whether it’s hitting The Comedian late or not, that’s what’s going on there. He’s realizing there’s all of these things going on behind the scenes that he’s not the big man about. He’s not the guy in charge. He’s not the most important thing in the story. Everything else is happening around him. I think ultimately that’s why he dies, right? Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 Because he has reached the end of his usefulness. His time is literally over. Justin:              Yeah. He’s done too many horrible things to continue on. Alex:                 Yeah, he should have died earlier. Justin:              He’s being replaced by this new world order that we come to find out later is Ozymandias’s sort of stake. Alex:                 Yeah. Who among us has not been replaced by a squid? Justin:              Yeah, indeed. I also think the death of The Comedian is sort of where the fiction starts. I think The Comedian is meant to represent what America actually did, and this is sort of the flight of fancy out of it where we realize the consequences or a take on what could happen to bring the world back together. We get the famous Pagliacci joke at the end which is great. Alex:                 Great joke. Actually very funny. Justin:              Super funny. Alex:                 After The Comedian not being funny for an issue, funny joke at the end, huh? Justin:              Hilarious. And the last image we see here is Rorschach grabbing a flower off of Eddie’s grave and taking it with him. Pete:                Which is cool because we see earlier in this issue, everybody is putting things into the grave, right? They’re putting the body down, they’re throwing the pins in. Rorschach comes and takes something. Justin:              That’s great, yeah. Because everyone is putting away their memories. They’re like, “This guy who did bad things, I don’t want to think about this anymore.” He’s like, “I’m going to take this clue with me on into the rest of the mystery.” Alex:                 Yeah, and to what we were talking about with the first issue as well though, that’s Rorschach kind of going off in the wrong direction, right? He is holding on to this Comedian mystery that is part of it, but he doesn’t know what it is quite yet. Pete:                And again, the shading and the paneling. From panel to panel, completely different time periods flow so nicely. But also, there was a panel where it was the same part of the newspaper, and then the next panel is just a bigger part. So cool. Justin:              Very cool. Alex:                 Now, one thing that I did want to point out actually because I was looking at both of your guys’ copies. You have a paperback print copy, Pete, and you’re looking at it on your computer. The coloring is different on both of them. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 So, in Pete’s I think it’s a little bit closer because the roses, I believe, are the same red as the blood on The Comedian in the first issue. So, when Rorschach is walking through the blood at the beginning, at the end of the second issue, he’s pulling it back out again. So, I don’t know. It’s interesting. I assume there’s an absolute edition out there somewhere with the correct colors, but it certainly affects the experience quite a bit. Guys, thank you so much for listening to Watchmen Watch. We will be back with the third issue pretty soon. Justin:              Very soon. Alex:                 Check out all the ways to subscribe at comicbookclublive.com. You can support this podcast and more. Patreon.com/comicbookclub. Also mention, you can follow us a bunch of places, @watchmenwatch1 on Twitter. Also on Facebook and Instagram, Watchmen Watch Podcast, you can check them out there. We got some shirts. We got shirts, guys. Justin:              Get those shirts on. Alex:                 Comicbookclub.threadless.com, check it out there. And remember, we taped this podcast 35 minutes ago. Justin:              Alan just texted me, and he said he’ll definitely be here for the next episode. Alex:                 Oh, that’s great. Pete:                Great. Justin:              Again, my bad. Stonehenge. Alex:                 I hope he had fun camping. Justin:              Yeah, he loves camping, and he loves mysterious stones. The post Watchmen Watch: Issue #2, “Absent Friends” appeared first on Comic Book Club.
Watchmen Watch: Issue #1, “At Midnight, All the Agents…”
Our Watchmen podcast kicks off in earnest as we break down the first issue of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal comic book series, “At Midnight, All the Agents…” Spoilers abound, but find out more about the structure behind the issue, Easter eggs, and how it all might tie into the upcoming HBO series of the same name. SUBSCRIBE TO WATCHMEN WATCH ON ITUNES, ANDROID, SPOTIFY, STITCHER, OR RSS. FOLLOW US ON TWITTER, INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK. SUPPORT OUR SHOWS ON PATREON. 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:                 Welcome to Watchmen Watch. A podcast about HBO’s Watchmen where we watch Watchmen, and then watch you watching Watchmen, while you watch us watch Watchmen. I’m Alex. Justin:              I’m Justin. Pete:                I’m Pete. That’s too much, dude. That’s too much. Alex:                 No, no. It’s just the right amount, it’s just the right amount. Pete:                No. That’s a little too much. Alex:                 I got it. I nailed it. I nailed it. Crushed it, you guys. Episode over. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 Okay. Justin:              It’s very short. We’re doing short podcasts. Alex:                 Now, we do need to apologize before we get into the bulk of our podcast. We do have a fourth cohost. Justin:              Alan Moore is our fourth host for this. He… We should say the writer of Watchmen, the comic book. Alex:                 Yeah, so we’re very excited to have him on board. Justin:              And eventually, obviously he took his name off of the movie and the other comic book versions of it, and he was going to be here today but he actually isn’t here. He’s actually at DC comics physically taking his name off the comics. Alex:                 Oh wow. Pete:                Oh wow. Alex:                 That’s going to take him a while. They have a lot of copies. Pete:                Yeah, it’s a long [crosstalk 00:00:52]. Justin:              But he’s going to be here, he said he’s definitely going to be here next week to talk about- Alex:                 Well he better hurry up because Watchmen is I think the highest selling graphic novel of all time. Justin:              It’s got a lot of- Alex:                 A lot of copies. Justin:              A lot of white out. A lot of white out coming in. Alex:                 This guy is going to have to invest in it. Justin:              Yes, no, and he likes to smell it a little bit as well. Pete:                It’s going to take more time. Alex:                 You probably know this, but Watchmen the TV series, is not going to be on until October on HBO. So in the intervening time, what we’re going to be doing on the next 12 episodes of Watchmen Watch is we’re going to be looking back at the comic issue by issue. And this week we’re going to be talking about the first issue of Watchmen At Midnight, All the Agents. That’s based on a Bob Dylan quote, I believe you dudes. Justin:              Yep. Alex:                 Let’s talk about this issue. I don’t know. I want to be honest about something upfront here. Pete:                Oh, here we go. Alex:                 I want to be honest with you guys. Justin:              Ooh. Confessions. Pete:                Oh. Confessions. Alex:                 I read Watchmen, all in a chunk, probably decades ago at this point. Justin:              Wow. Alex:                 I think I read it maybe, or skimmed it again, before the movie came out just so I could kind of familiarize myself with it. But it’s been years since I actually read this book. Pete:                Are you talking about the 80s? It’s been since the 80s? Alex:                 The Zack Snyder Watchmen movie did not come out in the 80s. What is your joke? Pete:                I don’t know. Justin:              The 80s is when it came out. Pete:                Yeah. Justin:              That’s when you were there. Alex:                 The book. Yes. He was there when Alan Moore was like, “The end.” Justin:              That’s why we got the connect. Pete:                Yeah. That’s how we got the phone number. Alex:                 Anyway, I haven’t actually deeply read it in decades at this point. So doing that for this podcast, actually taking the time to make sure that I synthesized as much of the words, of the panels, and everything as possible, was first of all fascinating. Because I don’t know if you guys know this, this is a very good comic. Justin:              This is a very good comic. Alex:                 Yes. It’s very well done. Alan Moore, good on writing. Dave Gibbons, very good on art. Justin:              He’s good on writing. Alex:                 Yes. Justin:              He’s good on writing. Pete:                Very good on writing. Justin:              He’s as good on writing as you are on saying that. Alex:                 Yes, John Higgins on color. And it was edited by Len Wein and Barbara Kesel. This is… I really honestly was kind of blown away by how good this is. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 Because we do a regular live comic book talk show. Pete:                We do. Alex:                 Watchmen comes up a lot when we’re talking about it. Justin:              Yep. Pete:                Certainly. Alex:                 So it’s almost become abstract to me in terms of like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s the best comic book of all time. I get it. That’s fine.” Justin:              Yeah, no exactly. You don’t think about it as much anymore. Alex:                 Right, but this is legitimately an excellent comic book. Justin:              Breaking news. Breaking news. Pete:                [crosstalk 00:03:28] blown away you are by this comic. Justin:              I felt the same way because… Like Alex was saying, actually rereading it, the pacing of this comic book is unbelievable. Pete:                Yeah. It really is. Justin:              It’s so shocking. Pete:                It starts out so well, grabs your attention, never lets go. It’s really impressive. Justin:              Just how much control Alan Moore has of the story from the jump and the art on top of that is just so good. Dave Gibbons’ art, it’s so… It’s of the era but it also feels timeless. It has a lot of the sort of dark shadowing to it, which gives it this sort of tense, bleak tone, but it still feels just as relevant as modern art. Alex:                 Well, I think just real quick, the thing that I was going to say about the timeless thing, the thing that struck me is so many things you go back and read and you’re like, “Oh that, I can see how that worked at the time, why it was important.” Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 This is still a very good comic book. Pete:                And it’s also one of those things where the imagery and the stuff that they use in comics, everything that I see kind of informs them. It’s like one of those things that sticks with you. When I picture someone getting thrown out of a window, it’s always The Comedian. Justin:              Yeah. What you picture often, right? Pete:                Yeah. Alex:                 Usually as you’re being thrown out a window. Pete:                But it’s done so iconically and so well- Justin:              First story windows. Pete:                Everything after that blows. Justin:              Yeah. The 9-panel grid that, it’s used in this is sort of a, and it’s not all… There’s not nine panels on every page, but using that grid as a basis, I feel like that’s something that a lot of comic book artists are coming back to now. Pete:                Yeah. Especially recently. Justin:              I also want to say in the 80s, this was in sort of the Cold War, like nuclear threat that definitely weighs heavily on this series. And now we’re sort of back in international politics being terrifying. Our American politics being expressed- Pete:                Keanu Reeves is popular again. It’s like the 80s all over again. Justin:              He really weighs in here, the Keanu Reeves of it all. So I do think rereading it now just in 2019 with our politics and culture definitely feels more relevant now than it did even when I read it in the 90s. Pete:                Oh wow. Alex:                 Right. Well, you do have the whole weight of the Doomsday Clock playing throughout it and that’s something we regularly hear about right now. Justin:              It’s close. Alex:                 Yes. Justin:              To Midnight in our time, now. Alex:                 It is. Justin:              I think we’re going to get [squidded 00:05:45] right here in New York City. Pete:                Oh man. Justin:              That would be- Alex:                 Squidded right here in New York City. Justin:              That would be a fun surprise. Pete:                We should move, guys. We should move. Justin:              But do you think… It wouldn’t have the same impact because if we got squidded, we’d be like, “Oh, squid.” Pete:                Oh, cool. This is a promo for Watchmen on HBO. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 Nice. Thanks guys. Justin:              Cool promo. Pete:                We’ve got to stay away from Times Square, they’re throwing squids. Justin:              Should we walk through the issue a little bit? Alex:                 Yeah, absolutely. Justin:              So we start with, as Pete mentioned, a recap. Two cops are talking about the death of The Comedian. Alex:                 Well, so let’s… This is one other… I mean I was struck by a lot in the issue. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 But one of the things I definitely did not pick up on the first couple of times that I read it, is you have this first page, it starts on The Comedian’s, now iconic, button in a pool of blood. It pulls up, up, up, up, up as it goes up to this cop saying… What does he say? “It’s a long drop?” Justin:              “Hmm. That’s quite a drop.” Alex:                 “That’s quite a drop.” You have Rorschach’s [crosstalk 00:06:36] narration over the entire thing, but you also have the guy that we don’t know yet is Rorschach walking through the blood, trailing the blood as he goes. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 Pulling it with him. He’s pulling this death with him, which I think is very cool. Pete:                Yeah, he’s a creepy dude. Justin:              Yeah, as the cops are leaving that’s when you really see Rorschach for the first time. Pete:                Right. Alex:                 And we still don’t… In this issue- Justin:              We do not. Alex:                 We don’t know that he’s Rorschach. Justin:              No. Alex:                 But he is. This red-haired man is Rorschach as we find out later in the series. But the thing that I thought was so neat, when you look at it, is there’s three things in the issue, right? There’s this first page where the cops are looking down at the pool of [blotted death 00:00:07:12]. You have the final page where you have Dan Dreiberg and Laurie Blake? Wait, Laurie- Justin:              Laurie Jupiter or Juspeczyk. Alex:                 Jupiter. Yeah, exactly. Not Laurie Blake. She’s Laurie Blake in the TV series. Laurie standing on that rooftop and you have the same zoom-out at the same pace looking down above them, which could imply that that’s another murder. That we’ve watched another death happening at the same time. Alex:                 But then you also have Rorschach’s narration saying, “And I would look down at them and I would say no.” Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 There’s so many different layered things going on here at the same time. Justin:              And to add another layer, at that last panel to me, it’s Doctor Manhattan spying on them- Alex:                 Yes. Justin:              As Nite Owl’s out with his wife. Alex:                 Right. And it’s his heart dying, potentially. Well, if Doctor Manhattan potentially has a heart. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 I mean that’s really up for- Pete:                A heart breaking. Alex:                 Exactly. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 The other thing that I was really struck by in this issue as we walk through it, is it’s funny. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 That’s something that I think people forget about Watchmen is there’s some funny moments. There’s some weird moments in here. It’s not… The wrong lesson that so many people have taken from Watchmen is, “You’ve got to make things dark and serious.” Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 And that’s not what this book is about at all. Justin:              In fact, it is dark and serious, but it’s the feeling, the way that lands is by having comedy, which creates a greater distance between the laughs to the really dark stuff. So you’re really on a roller coaster ride. Pete:                So you’re asking yourself, “Why so serious?” Justin:              Right. That’s exactly what my point is. Pete:                Yeah. Alex:                 Yeah. Watchmen walked so the Dark Knight could run. Justin:              Watchmen watched so the Dark Knight could watch harder. Pete:                Harder. Alex:                 So we got that first page, you want to move to- Justin:              Yeah. So we have… And these cops, they seem sort of [scumbaggy 00:08:59] cops. And they’re sort of the heroes here. Pete:                Classic. Justin:              And we’re seeing, interspersed with their investigation of the crime scene, you see flashback the murder happening of The Comedian, which was… Just hadn’t seen that before when I first read this. And, reading here, it’s really well-paced and it really creates this essential mystery. And at the same time, we don’t know who The Comedian is. Alex:                 Right? Justin:              We don’t know this is a take on a Justice League-type team until much later. Not even in this issue. Alex:                 Yeah. There’s something this issue does. Another thing this issue does very well, is introduce all the characters in a very fluid way through both these detectives initially, and then through Rorschach’s investigation where he approaches each of the characters. But it never feels like, “And now meet this character. And now meet this character.” And part of the reason is that Moore and Gibbons, Gibbons through the body language of the characters, but Moore through the writing, has set up all of these backstories and all this history. So people are not coming into it as, “We are fresh friends who have met each other for the first time.” Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 It’s when Nite Owl and Rorschach see each other for the first time. It’s for the first time in years. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 And they broke apart and at least one of them doesn’t know why. Justin:              And you feel the weight of their relationship on all of these characters. Alex:                 Yes. Pete:                I really do think that because we read so many comic books, we can kind of tell at this point when people are just moving characters around to get them to a certain thing for something they have planned. And this is done in such a creative way. You don’t feel like they’re just moving characters. Alex:                 It’s very fluid in terms of introducing the characters, in terms of the plot. Alan Moore, again, huge shocker here, a very good writer. But he knows how to get us across both plot and character at the same time because of all of the dialogue. Justin:              It would have been great if he was here to answer some of these questions I’m asking [crosstalk 00:00:10:51]. Alex:                 It’s a real disappointment to me. Justin:              He is going to be here next week, as we keep saying. Alex:                 Yes. I’m excited. We’ll save some of the questions while we talk about episode two. Justin:              Definitely. Definitely. Definitely. Definitely. Yeah, so the spine of the issue is Rorschach sort of going around to the different heroes and warning them like, “Hey, The Comedian is dead and you might be next.” Pete:                Right. Justin:              And it’s telling them- Pete:                And what a good friend. Justin:              Yes, he’s a good friend but he also is… He feels like he’s the one character after their super team broke up. And you feel the sadness for everyone in different ways. Like Nite Owl, he’s sad because he doesn’t have anything else going on in his life. He’s visiting the original Nite Owl who also has a sad life and wrote a book about superheroes. As he visits everyone, it’s clear it was a bad relationship. Their relationships have not maintained throughout. But he’s the only one who’s sort of still in his mode, on the case trying to figure this out. Pete:                Yeah. Justin:              So you definitely identify with him as the character, the hero driving through. Pete:                Oh yeah. Justin:              But some of the things we were talking about before, he is saying some stuff that now, I’m in our modern politics and culture. He’s saying some pretty out-right shit here. Alex:                 Yes. I do not think you’re supposed to identify with Rorschach at all. Justin:              Really? Alex:                 No, I really don’t think so. Pete:                He’s the only guy I identify with. Alex:                 Really? What do you identify with in him? And I’m scared to ask. Pete:                The way that he doesn’t trust people, the way that he feels like he is creepier or dirtier than people. The way he lives is different. Justin:              He’s an outsider? Pete:                He’s an outsider. Yeah, thank you. Justin:              Yeah. Pete:                And also the fact that he covers his face and doesn’t show people kind of who he is and what he’s about. Justin:              And his dedication to the sort of the case and being- Pete:                Yeah, exactly. He’s above all else. We’re above getting proper meals or [crosstalk 00:12:46]. Justin:              I think that’s the trap. That’s the trap of what you were saying before about the lesson a lot of comic book writers and companies took from this was like, “Oh, we gotta do this.” I think now after we’ve read hundreds of issues of The Punisher and all these other darker heroes that came out after Watchmen, it’s tricked us into thinking we should identify with Rorschach when really he has just as many- Pete:                Plus, he’s fucked up. Alex:                 He’s violent. Justin:              He’s super violent. Pete:                Which is great. Justin:              He’s a loner. He considers the rest of the world filth and just like an [abattoir 00:13:13]. Alex:                 Let’s talk about that a little bit because his… It’s interesting. I’m sure there’s much better ways of saying this in a much… There’s been so much research and writing about Watchmen in the intervening years, but he’s Rorschach, right? Like his mask is a fluid Rorschach test that people can ostensibly see whatever they want. Justin:              Mm-hmm (affirmative). Alex:                 They look at him and they see whatever they want in him, but everybody sees the same thing in Rorschach. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 Everybody sees exactly who he is and he is pretty straight up exactly who he is at the same time. Versus everybody else who is currently, they’re not wearing masks. They’re all supposedly being who they are, including say, and this is a huge spoiler if you’ve never watched Watchmen, but Adrian Veidt, Ozymandias, who is the real villain of the series, he’s not wearing a mask right now. He’s not wearing a costume. He’s like, “This is who I am. I’m a businessman. I’m smart, but I’m not really the smartest man in the world. This is me upfront.” But everybody else is hiding something. Justin:              Yeah, except Rorschach. Alex:                 Rorschach’s the only one- Pete:                Rorschach’s [crosstalk 00:14:21] honest one. Justin:              Rorschach is calling them out. He’s going out and calling each of them out in these missions. Alex:                 Right. So I guess what I was getting around to is the point that I think he wants you to see whatever you see in the world on him, but all he sees in the world is that filth. Is that disgustingness, is everybody is airing on the side of bad. That’s why he makes this, frankly crazy assumption off of one murder, that somebody is killing capes. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 You know, there’s really no evidence there and he’s not necessarily wrong, but he’s not necessarily right either. It’s because he goes to, The Comedian is dead, what is the worst case scenario? Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 And the worst case scenario is they’re coming for all of us. Pete:                Right. Alex:                 He lives walking through that puddle of blood all the time. Justin:              And he comments so much on the culture. Pete:                Yeah. Justin:              But at the same time he’s a reflection of all of the comments he’s making. He is the Rorschach test for the culture. Alex:                 Right. Justin:              But like some of the [outrights 00:15:18] tell you. Pete:                Are you okay, are you dying there? Justin:              Sorry. Yeah, I’m choking. The truth… Betraying even his own shallow liberal affectations. There’s just some stuff in here that really hit me in this rereading of it in our modern world where the… In all this kind of language and mentality really like proliferates on Reddit and different spots on the internet where a lot of bad shit comes out of it. Alex:                 Yeah. Now, one other visual thing that I really loved throughout the issue, just in terms of the body language, there’s so many little subtle things that happen. There is a… There’s a bunch of graffiti like, “Who watches the Watchmen?” But it’s kind of cut off each time. I don’t think we see it fully each time it pops up. Justin:              No. Alex:                 There’s also pirate comics throughout, which I think we should talk about the whole comic book, in a second when we get to the Under the Hood, because there’s some fascinating stuff there. But there’s this little moment where Rorschach takes a pocket full of sugar cubes, they never talk about it, and then five pages later he’s eating a sugar cube and it’s so gross. He’s like a fly who’s feasting on garbage the entire time. Pete:                Yeah. Justin:              He eats a can of cold beans. Alex:                 I don’t know why you’re still into this after we talked about it. Pete:                I love it. I love how gross he is. Alex:                 Let’s talk about the Doctor Manhattan stuff. Justin:              Yeah, so after Rorschach goes to Nite Owl, who’s living a sad life, he goes and beats up a bunch of people in a bar. Pete:                Yeah! Justin:              To try, what Pete obviously likes, to try to figure out… And they’re like- Alex:                 I really think you’re taking the wrong lessons from this comic book. Justin:              Yeah. Pete:                Cool. Justin:              It’s crazy though. He calls it his exercise and it’s just… Because there’s no real, it was a one-person job killing The Comedian. The fact that there would be henchmen there. It seems like he’s doing this fully just to beat people up for [crosstalk 00:17:02]. Alex:                 Yeah. Absolutely. Pete:                Well, it’s his exercise. Some people like to walk in the park. Other people have gym memberships. He goes to a bar- Justin:              All equally reasonable things. Pete:                Yep. Justin:              He goes and talks to Ozymandias. Veidt, who’s a corporate sellout basically, shits on him a little bit. Then he goes to talk to Doctor Manhattan who lives in the… Works for the government, is still ostensibly a mask. He’s distant from the world. We see this great panel where he’s three stories tall to first meet him. Alex:                 Yeah. Justin:              Such a great visual. Alex:                 And everything else throughout the book, for the most part, is very, very tight. It holds that 9-panel grid until we see Doctor Manhattan where it completely opens up. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 And this gets to something that I think… Also in particular, not to lump on it too much, but the Zack Snyder movie got completely wrong about Watchmen, is these aren’t superheroes. Justin:              No. Alex:                 These are regular people. Even Adrian Veidt is, certainly he’s pushing down his intelligence a little bit. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 He’s trying to be modest about it, but he’s not actually the smartest man in the world. He just has a lot of resources at this point. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 Same with Rorschach. Rorschach isn’t super strong. The Comedian isn’t super strong. Superheroes have developed in a way, but they’re really just humans. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 The one exception is Doctor Manhattan. But the other thing that I think even everybody gets wrong about Doctor Manhattan, that’s very clear in this issue, is he’s not all powerful. Justin:              No. Alex:                 He doesn’t know everything and he can’t do everything. Justin:              No, and he’s even learning about his powers. The whole series is about him figuring out what it means to be this sort of godlike person, but he doesn’t have command of it. And he’s so obsessed with research that he’s not able… It’s not about power for him. Alex:                 Right. Justin:              It’s about, “Oh, I can look into this now.” Alex:                 Right. Justin:              It’s like someone who would have the internet for the first time. Like a scientist having the internet is what Doctor Manhattan feels like in this. Alex:                 Yeah. So we do get this great character scene and we get to see a lot of what’s going on with Doctor Manhattan. We get to see what’s going on with Laurie and also Rorschach, who she doesn’t like at all. And then we get the other big plot that’s gonna play out throughout the series, which they dance around for the first half of the issue very purposely until Laurie comes out and says it, which is that The Comedian raped her mom. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 He raped her mom, he assaulted her mom. That came out during the Hollis Mason, who’s the original Nite Owl in his book Under the Hood, and she believes the story. Rorschach is not 100% sure, if I remember correctly. Justin:              Yeah. And she actually says almost. She doesn’t say it. Alex:                 Right. Justin:              So everyone, it’s like a suspicious, you don’t know what the deal is in this moment. Alex:                 Right. And we’re still learning a lot about these characters. We don’t even really… We haven’t heard The Comedian say a word. Justin:              We don’t know anything about anything in this. Alex:                 Right. Justin:              And it’s crazy how much they just give us right out of the gate and we’re just like, “Okay, we’ll keep up with this.” It’s dense in a great way. Alex:                 And then at the end, we see Nite Owl and Laurie end up going on a pseudo-date together. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 It’s not supposed to be a date. It’s mostly catching up. But they both like it because they’re friends. One thing that I do want to point out that I thought was kind of fascinating, there’s little things here. This is an alternate history. It’s split off from some point, both from our world, from the DC Universe, from anything else. There are little things. I believe there’s a turkey there with four legs that they’re serving at the restaurant. And there are other things like that that give you little indicators, not just through the fashion but literally the things that people are eating. The world is a little different. Justin:              Oh yeah. Alex:                 Yeah. Justin:              That feels like… The turkey with four legs feels like a mistake, but maybe not. Alex:                 No, I don’t think it is. Justin:              Really? It’s so small in this panel. Alex:                 If you have a world, again jumping to the end here, where Ozymandias is able to build genetically a cat creature. He’s able to build a squid. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 What’s to say he hasn’t also done that where, “Great, we’ve created a Turkey with a little more meat on it.” Justin:              That’s true. That’s fair. Pete:                Yeah. Justin:              We do get a mention of Action Comics in the back matter, an excerpt from Under the Hood, which is the book that the first Nite Owl read. Was sort of a superhero tell-all, which I reread for this as well and man, it’s so good. Alex:                 I want to say I reread it, but this is another… This is the second thing I wanted to be honest with you guys about, I don’t think I ever read it. Justin:              Oh really? Alex:                 I don’t. I think I completely was like, “Eh, word book. No thanks.” Pete:                Yeah, that’s exactly [crosstalk 00:21:12]. Alex:                 And I was so wrong because reading it for this, I was blown away. Justin:              The first story, it’s sort of the intro to the book and it’s just a story about him and his dad at this auto-mechanic shop that he worked at. It’s such a great, short story. Alex:                 It’s a great short story. It parallels what went on in the first issue. But from a continuity standpoint, when you’re talking about that alternative evolution, as you mentioned, he talks about, Hollis Mason talks about, “Oh, I remember reading Action Comics and seeing the introduction of Superman, but the alternate history of Watchmen, what actually happened was they released Action Comics.” It was big, people loved it, but then a couple of years later, the first vigilante hooded justice showed up and then people didn’t need superhero comics anymore because superheroes existed in real life and that’s why pirate comics became the biggest thing. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 So when we link up in the current continuity in Watchmen, everybody reads pirate comics and we’re going to get into that pretty soon with the Black Freighter- Pete:                Curse of the Black Freighter. Alex:                 Curse of the Black Freighter, and everything else, which again provides a lot of parallels for what’s going on. But yeah, I felt super dumb for having not read it that first time through. Justin:              Yeah, no, it’s so good. Just rereading it I was like, “Oh right, I forgot how good this was.” Alex:                 Yeah, definitely check out Watchmen #1 from DC comics. Justin:              Well, you can’t recommend it. Alex:                 Oh man. Justin:              Find it if you’re- Pete:                [Hard take 00:22:37]. Hard take. Alex:                 All right. Next week we are going to be talking about the second issue of Watchmen, so be sure to read it before then if you want to check it out with us. And of course as the series gets closer we’ll talk more and more about that. You could support this podcast at patreon.com/comicbookclub. Also, we do a live show every Tuesday night at 8:00 PM at the Peoples Improv Theater Loft in New York. Come on by. We’ll chat with you about Watchmen. Pete, what do you want to plug? Pete:                Find us on Facebook so you get to know about the amazing guests we have on our live show. Justin:              Follow us on Twitter @comicbooklive. Alex:                 Also, follow us on Twitter [@atwatchWatchmen1 00:23:20] for Watchmen stuff. Pete:                Yeah. Number one. Alex:                 Number one. Watch Watchmen number one podcast. Comicbookclublive.com for this podcast and more. You can subscribe all sorts of places. Our RSS feed is on the website and remember we taped this podcast 35 minutes ago. Justin:              Oh, Alan just texted me again. He’s definitely going to be here next week. The post Watchmen Watch: Issue #1, “At Midnight, All the Agents…” appeared first on Comic Book Club.
Watchmen Watch: Preview
Who watches HBO’s Watchmen? We do! In the preview episode of our Watchmen podcast, Alex, Justin and Pete discuss their experience with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic graphic novel, their thoughts on the movie version and predictions for the TV show, as well as general thoughts on Damon Lindelof’s shows, from LOST to The Leftovers. SUBSCRIBE TO WATCHMEN WATCH ON ITUNES, ANDROID, SPOTIFY, STITCHER, OR RSS. FOLLOW US ON TWITTER, INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK. SUPPORT OUR SHOWS ON PATREON. 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:                 Welcome to Watchmen Watch, a podcast about HBO’s Watchmen. Who watches Watchmen Watch? We watch Watchmen Watch, as we watch the Watchmen on HBO. I’m Alex. Justin:              I’m Justin. Pete:                I’m Pete. That’s a lot of watching. Justin:              That’ll be easy for you to say next time. Alex:                 Yeah, no problem. I have it all scripted down and definitely remember all of it. Pete:                No problem at all. Justin:              That’s true. For those of you listening at home, he doesn’t have it scripted. He was just staring at us with crazy bugged out eyes because it was a lot to say at once. Alex:                 Now we do have an apology to make unfortunately, our fourth cohost is not here today. Justin:              Yeah. Alan Moore is doing this podcast with us. Unfortunately, he couldn’t be here today and today only. He’s officiating a wedding between two hamsters in Northern Ireland. So, he has to be there for that. Pete:                Love’s love. Justin:              He does a lot of those animal weddings. Alex:                 Yeah, he got ordained online. Did you know that? Justin:              That’s really cool. It’s a great way to do it. Alex:                 Yes. Justin:              Are you an online minister? Pete:                No. No. Justin:              I am. Pete:                Are you? Justin:              I am. Pete:                Oh, really? Justin:              I can marry anything. Alex:                 Great. Pete:                Wow. Anything? Justin:              You guys? Alex:                 So this is going to be a podcast about Watchmen, the HBO show, which is a show run by Damon Lindelof. That’s going to be viewing some point in October. As of this recording, we don’t know the exact date, so here’s how we’re going to run the show. We are going to recap every episode of Watchmen as it happens on the podcast. But leading up to it, we’re going to do a recap. We’re going to do a review both for ourselves and for you guys of the Watchmen comic book of all 12 issues. Justin:              It’s a crash course in Watchmen for everybody who wants to know what’s up with Watchmen before we get into the series. Because the series, unlike the movie, the Zack Snyder movie was a very faithful presentation of the comic. Alex:                 What? Justin:              So we’re going to get into that as well, but the HBO series is sort of a re-interpretation. Alex:                 Right. We don’t know a lot about it at this current time. David Lindelof and company have been very cagey about it. They’ve called it, as you said, a re-interpretation. Maybe it’s a sequel, maybe it’s a sidequel. Pete:                Maybe it takes place in between the panels of the movie. Alex:                 Right, exactly. That’d be classic Scott McCloud, understanding comic style. Justin:              Very exciting. Alex:                 So we’ll see what happens with that. But it is worth reviewing because clearly based on the footage that they released of Watchmen, it’s going to have a lot of visual touchstones, character names, other things going on there. It’s certainly been awhile since I read Watchmen, so I’m excited to get back into it. Justin:              Yeah, me too. Pete:                I would like to say though that the teaser they released looks really amazing. I’m excited. Alex:                 It does look that fantastic. Here’s what I think we could do on this first episode here. Let’s talk about our experiences with Watchmen and then also thoughts on Damon Lindelof as a showrunner because he’s definitely the driving force behind it. So let’s start off with Watchmen. Pete, what is your experience with Watchmen? Obviously you love the Zack Snyder movie. Pete:                No. Alex:                 You watched that on a loop. Pete:                I did love the choice for Rorschach in the movie. I thought everything else was kind of slightly garbage. I like most people, the first time I read Watchmen, my mind was blown and I was really impressed by the writing and the art of that, and I thought it was really phenomenal. Justin:              I remember picking up a Watchmen number, like seven, whatever the one with the perfume bottle on it is, in the comic shop when I was just like … I pulled it out of a bin. I was like, oh, what’s this? And I think I bought it and read it and it just didn’t know what was going on. And then years later, I read the whole series in a trade paperback and being like, oh wow, this feels, it just feels so much … There’s so much more going on in this comic than in so many other comics I’ve read. Alex:                 Yeah, I think I read it pretty late actually. I definitely remember reading it as a trade collection, not in individual issues or anything like that. I think it was well into my second life as a comic book reader. I read- Justin:              Second life? Alex:                 Well I read- Justin:              Because he died all- Alex:                 Very briefly. Very briefly. I drowned for a couple of days. Justin:              Yeah. Yeah. Cause you’re from the islands in Game of Thrones. What is dead may never die? Alex:                 The iron islander. Justin:              You’re an iron Islander, Right? Alex:                 Yeah, exactly. Justin:              What is dead may never die. Alex:                 Yup. That’s me. You know me. Add my salt wives. Anyway, so I read comics as a kid, took a break for some of high school and college. Justin:              To play football. Alex:                 Yeah. Justin:              Quarterback hero. Alex:                 And then I had that injury. Justin:              Yeah I know. Alex:                 And then I picked up comic books again and when that happened, I started reading a lot more trade collections, getting caught up on things that I should have read anyway. And watching it was one of those that I thought, wow, this is great. Very good book. And from there, ended up reading a bunch of other Alan Moore books kind of in a row, including Miracle Man and other things [crosstalk 00:04:42] Justin:              So you went on a tear. Yeah. Pete:                You went to on an Alan Moore tear. Justin:              I think what’s important is- Pete:                It’s too bad that he’s not here, you could tell that to them. Alex:                 No, I know, I know. I was really looking forward to it. Justin:              We had so many great questions for him, he was- Alex:                 He’ll be here to hear next week. Pete:                Yeah. Justin:              Yeah, he made A real promise to us. Watchmen, if you haven’t read the comic and you’re listening to this, read some other comics first. Alex:                 Yes. Pete:                This is one thing that a lot of people talk about with Watchmen. They’re like, oh, Watchmen was my first comic book. I don’t understand it. And it’s like, of course you don’t. Watchmen is really a postmodern … It sort of breaks down the comic book sort of mythos or the Justice League or the Avenger’s type characters and really reframes and has you look at it in a more realistic context. The Boys that’s just come out on Amazon- Pete:                Great show. Justin:              Great show. Sort of has that as a more modern version of that, beyond Watchmen. Watchmen was the first to really sort of take a critical or postmodern look at comics. Alex:                 And that’s one of the things that I’m really hoping for from the TV show that in the same way that Watchmen the comic was looking at comics that came before it and the history of comics and reframing it in such a smart careful way. I hope they do that with the TV or film the media. But you know, I hope they extend that in some way. Because frankly, and I’m curious to see if we’ll have time to get to this accident or film before we get into the TV show. Justin:              We will. Alex:                 One of the big faults for that is it straight adapted the comic book and that just didn’t work for me when I saw it. Justin:              Yeah, no it was cool to see the visuals- Alex:                 Yes. Justin:              … there. And it was shot well visually. But it didn’t have any of the sort … I was just talking about sort of the density of ideas or like the actual take on what we were seeing. It was just sort of like a puppet show of the characters from Watchmen. Pete:                One thing I’m curious about is what’s your guys favorite part of Watchmen? Because there’s so much different stuff. There’s stuff in between chapters, different characters, different takes on things. What was your- Justin:              Black Freighter. Pete:                Yeah. What was your favorite kind of part about it or of your favorite character? Justin:              Tough, tough question. I mean it’s such a quilt of these characters. It’s hard to pick out, I guess. I mean, I guess I like the Owlman, Silk Spectre romance- Pete:                Nite Owl? Justin:              Nite Owl, yeah. Yes. Right. The Nite Owl, Silk Spectre romance. The way- Alex:                 Yeah. That’s the thing that feels the most human probably, I mean purposefully so. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 I think I like that as well. Justin:              They’re sort of the heroes. Alex:                 Can I make a guess, Pete? Pete:                Yeah. Alex:                 Was it Rorschach? Pete:                Yeah. Alex:                 Yeah. Okay. Justin:              What about you? Alex:                 That’s going to be a problem. I would also say Night Owl. Justin:              Yeah. Yeah. Alex:                 I think that was the one that I related to the most. Certainly because I was like, hey, this is kind of a nerd. Pete:                I also really liked the pirates stuff. That was really cool. Justin:              Yeah, all the additional back matters. Also, the first time in a comic I’d encountered that when I was like, oh look at all this text. It’s really deepening the story. Alex:                 Yeah. You read the Black Freighter stuff, Pete? Pete:                Some of it. Alex:                 Okay. Okay. We’ll get into that. We’ll see what happens. Justin:              It could get interesting. that’s everyone’s favorite part. Alex:                 Let’s talk about Damon Lindelof. He has worked on a bunch of shows, most notably Lost and The Leftovers, as you guys know very well, Justin and Pete, Lost is my favorite TV show of all time. Pete:                Yup. Justin:              Even the end? Alex:                 Even the end- Justin:              Oddly. Alex:                 … which I love. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 Leftovers is great. Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 Did not love the first season of that, but it eventually figured itself out in season two. Justin:              See, I even like the first season of Leftovers. Alex:                 Really? Justin:              Yeah. Alex:                 Do you know what held me back about that is I read the book and I loved the book and it’s so different than the book. It tweaked it in weird ways that I wasn’t crazy about where I felt like- Justin:              See, I didn’t read the book. Alex:                 Yeah. It felt like it was missing the point that was made in the book. The book is very satirical. It was very funny. The first season of Leftovers was extremely serious to a fault. Justin:              Yes it was. Alex:                 And then it figured itself out. Like it figured out a more humanity in those last two seasons of Leftovers. Glorious. What do you guys think about Damon Lindelof shows? Pete? Pete:                Super cool guy. Alex:                 Have you seen either of them? Pete:                No. Alex:                 What? [crosstalk 00:08:48] You didn’t even get to see Lost? Pete:                Nope. Alex:                 What? Justin:              I was obsessed with Lost. I feel like, and this is a good thing, I think. Pete:                Brian K. Vaughan, right? Also worked- Justin:              He worked on that. Alex:                 Yes he did. Justin:              I feel like the Lost was sort of like, I think he’s a great teller of stories, maker of television. Lost felt like sort of a teenage. Alex:                 It’s called a tele-maker. Justin:              Yeah, that’s what it is, telemarketer. Lost felt like a sort of a teenager. The teenage show where he was like- Pete:                Lot of angst? Justin:              Well it’s like, it’s a little bit herky-jerky. It’s those scripts they would write the in the the action lines it would be like, and then he pulls out a mother fucking diamond and they like all the in the … Oh the motherfucking hatch finally fucking opened and- Pete:                Lot of swearing. Justin:              … that’s not how most people write scripts. Pete:                That’s how I write scripts. Justin:              I know, which is- Alex:                 You’re talking about the actual scripts? Justin:              The actual real script. Alex:                 Okay. Justin:              Yeah. Had all this crazy language in the action lines and stuff. Alex:                 Nice. Justin:              So it felt like a little bit all over the place, not really knowing what it was the whole time. And that’s why I think the ending- Alex:                 Was so perfect. Justin:              Didn’t stick the landing for most people. Alex:                 Oh, okay. Justin:              And got a little wonky where it sorta like, oh, I’m ready, I’m an adult. And it’s like, no, you’re not. You’re a weirdly ended teenager. While Leftovers definitely felt like, oh, this is mature, it’s grown up. This feels like maybe it’s an even more experienced-wise understanding of television and how to tell these stories and with this great material of Watchmen to use as fodder. Alex:                 Interesting. Yeah. Justin:              That’s my theory. Alex:                 Okay. All right. Pete:                So you’re saying though that they didn’t keep all that cool stuff in the script and put it in the show? Justin:              No, that was literally describing what visually you’re seeing when you’re reading the script. Alex:                 So I will say to your point- Pete:                To you motherfucking point. Alex:                 To your mother fucking point, Damon Lindelof put out this bonkers note on Instagram back when they announced Watchmen, where he was explaining himself and he was talking about how it was so formative for him as a read. It was something that connected to him, to his father. Justin:              Oh, wow. Alex:                 He felt like it never should be adapted. They should never do that. That’s not something they should make into a TV show. But then the more he started to think about it, the more he was like, I’m so scared of this. I just got to try it, even if I’m going to completely fuck it up. Justin:              Right. Alex:                 And everything that I’ve heard about it from the casting to what they’ve done behind the scenes with the writing and directing staff, they’ve been so careful and cognizant of what Watchmen means while still knowing … It is 2019 we’re doing this TV show in 2019, what does it mean that we are doing it now? And that comes down to one of the things that I think is frankly excellent. Alex:                 And this is why I think it’s interesting and it’s going to be interesting for you to watch, given that Pete, your Rorschach is your favorite character is Damon Lindelof at the Television Critics Association tour, which is something that happens twice a year out in California. I gave an interview and he talked about … there is a gang of Rorschachs in here and he was like, oh yeah- Justin:              Nice. Alex:                 … they’re the alt-right. Like straight up. Justin:              What? Rorschach wasn’t- Alex:                 He didn’t bounce around it and he was like, they’re a metaphor for the alt-right. It was like, no, no, they’re an alt-right. Justin:              Well, I mean we’re going to get into this in our next couple of podcasts, but rereading the first issue, I was like, oh yeah. Alex:                 Yeah. Justin:              Rorschach’s dialogue, his monologuing is alt-right shit. Pete:                What? Alex:                 You know when I think about it, this is my guess about it, is it’s a lot of people taking his writings and using it the wrong way. Justin:              Right. Pete:                Cause he wasn’t … He’s never- Justin:              We’ll talk about that- Alex:                 We’ll talk about that more when we get into the issues and everything. Cool. Any other things that you guys want to say about Watchmen before we wrap up? Pete:                Well then now then I’m Fucking pissed. I don’t want to see my favorite character turned to some fucking racist asshole. Alex:                 Turned? Pete:                Yeah, turned. Alex:                 Interesting. Justin:              Let’s definitely talk about that in the future. I’m excited. I’m excited to reread Watchmen and re-get into that whole thing. Even excited to watch the movie. Alex:                 Yeah, absolutely. So we’re going to do all of that on individual episodes as they roll out and then of course once the show starts, we’re really going to get into that as well. So very excited to see what that’s all about. Alex:                 Right now we are getting all the feeds live for this, but you can subscribe to the RSS at comicbookclublive.com and we’ll have the feed right there. You’re certainly probably listening to it right now after listening to this episode and it should be live on iTunes, Android, Spotify, Stitcher, etc, very, very soon. Couple of other things before we go, you can check us out patreon.com/comicbookclub if you want to support this podcast and more. 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 and we’ll watch you watch the Watchmen. Alex:                 Pete, what do you want to plug? Pete:                Friend us on Facebook so you get to know about the amazing guests in our live show. Justin:              Follow us at Twitter @comicbooklive. Alex:                 Check us out comicbookclublive.com for this podcast and more, and remember we recorded this podcast 35 minutes ago. Justin:              Alan just texted me. He’s definitely going to be here next time. The post Watchmen Watch: Preview appeared first on Comic Book Club.
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Started
Sep 5th, 2019
Latest Episode
Sep 12th, 2019
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No. of Episodes
3
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24 minutes
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