Everybody escapin' into comic books and TV!
Makes me sick."
As the title (a William - not Edward - Blake reference, from "The Tyger") suggests, the dominant theme in Watchmen #5 is symmetry. The story begins and ends with Rorschach visiting Moloch's apartment, as lit by the alternating blues and oranges of the neon lights outside.
You get the idea. With the exception of the first pic with the three panels in one and Rorschach's foot coming down in the puddle, all of the above are from the Motion Picture Comic. As we looked at in pt. 3 of this series, the re-coloring techniques available today allowed John Higgins to touch up some of his original mixtures. It's a testament to his skill that these particular panels look virtually identical. Maybe a tad different blue/gray in that center panel vs. the retouched ones, but that's about it.
It's a nice effect. Had anyone like this been done before? I can't say for absolutely sure, but almost certainly: yes. If not Miller on Daredevil than Wil Eisner or Jim Steranko or Alex Toth or Bernie Krigstein or Jim Aparo elsewhere; all of those are good contenders for having employed this technique. Nevertheless, it was uncommon enough to really stand out in 1986 in Watchmen, to be sure, as was the symmetry of design itself.
This is a move-the-plot-along sort of issue that culminates in Rorschach's capture by the police. Rorschach visits Moloch to ask him a few more questions about Blake, but he gets little from him. He does, however, say if Moloch remembers anything to make a drop at a garbage can that he monitors ("opposite Gunga Diner") in his The-End-Is-Nigh persona. When he checks the drop later, there's a message to meet at Moloch's later.
Of course, as the screencaps above detail, he arrives to find Moloch murdered and the place surrounded. Who framed Rorschach? We don't know... yet.
Other highlights of this issue: 1) The TotBF story continues -
|as does the worldbuilding and tablesetting around the newspaper vendor.|
|And again I'll table discussion of it until later and cover it all at once. That "borne on the naked backs of murdered men" line has always stuck with me, though. You think you got troubles...|
While we're here, the supplemental back pages, where previously we'd seen Under the Hood excerpts, etc., this time "(give) us the only non-Gibbons art in the entirety of Watchmen as we get an article about the real-life Joe Orlando and the fake history of pirate comics in this alternate reality. The essay mentions the disappearance of pirate comic writer Max Shea an embedded clue relating to the global conspiracy but it’s a winking piece by Moore (of the type he actually used to write for the U.K. fanzines) in which he gets to develop the history of comic book culture in the Watchmen world." (From Tim Callahan's Great Alan Moore Re-Read at Tor.)
2) Laurie moves into Dan's place, and the sexual tension mounts.
3) There's a bloody interlude where someone tries to kill Ozymandias at his HQ.
|The only person killed, though, is his personal assistant.|
|Well, and the would-be assassin.|
This sort of over-the-top violence and gore was shocking, then, sure, but comics were increasingly drenched in blood throughout the 80s. It reached a fever pitch in the latter days of the decade, but as early as Miller's DD or Moench and Sienkiewicz's Moon Knight, torrents of blood (usually left in black ink rather than colored as furiously red as here) and grisly exit wounds were a staple of many an action scene. (Moon Knight was, like Watchmen, at least Direct Market - not that all that many comic shop owners were asking for IDs at the register.)
And mentioned in the comments section of the aforelinked Tor re-read is this: "It is worth noticing that Ozymandias killing a man is at the center of issue #5, just as him killing a man is at the center of the overall plot. A definite clue, in retrospect; and Ozymandias’ dialog at the time is just chock full of dramatic irony. ('…tell them I don’t have any enemies.')"
Also symmetrical? The attack was staged (though the deaths were real). What appears to be the typical (if exaggeratedly violent) superhero action scene is further reflection on the larger arcs of the series.
And 4) I love Moore's grizzled detective homages. I wish he would write some kind of police procedural. I guess that's what Neonomicon is, albeit one steeped in a very Alan-Moore-ian broth. So let me rephrase: I wish Alan Moore would write a relatively-straight police procedural, or perhaps adapt one of Ian Rankin's grittier Rebus novels for the screen. Not that he'd be interested in anything like that, I'm sure, but just the same.
And now for the triumphant return of...
That title doesn't really "pop" in those pictures, does it? My apologies. On to the grizzled philosophizing interspersed with revealingly disturbing observations about self and society.
I love that Gunga Diner pun. If there isn't an actual Gunga Diner, there should be.
I missed May's installment of Watchmen at Thirty so there will be two installments this month. Maybe even three. Egads! Until next time.