Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Let's Nitpick: Watchmen

watchmen-coverWelcome to a new segment called "Let's Nitpick" wherein I nitpick a comic to death. This was inspired by a YouTube video series Cinema Sins whereby a narrator will comb through an entire movie and point out all the plotholes, goofs, continuity errors, and just make strange/funny/nonsequitor observations. It's partially facetious and partially serious. The title comes from an old Internet trope of using "Let's.... [do something]" like Let's Play.

I've read Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' ground-breaking work "Watchmen" more times than I can count. There's always been a lot of things about it that have stuck with me over the years - both good and bad. Having recently re-watched both the live action movie (ugh) and the motion comic (yaye), I decided to sit down and read the actual graphic novel itself and jot down some notes; this blog is the result of that. I initially expected this list to be just a handful of questions and observations, but I noticed the closer I paid attention, the more questions I had.

NOTE: I couldn't post a picture for every question or else this blog would be extremely lengthy (as if it isn't already). For specific moments, I referenced every question with a chapter and page number, which you can look up yourself at home. Though you can view a free online version here.

And, this should go without saying, but just in case: SPOILERS AHEAD!!
  1. Why is there a pool of blood on the sidewalk? Wouldn’t the police have cordoned it off as a crime scene? Why is it the short order cook’s job to clean it up? (c1p1)
  2. We knew Rorschach was the “End is Nigh” guy, but how did he actually make a living in his civilian life? Did he still have the job making women’s clothing he had as a teenager? (c1p1)
  3. Why would Rorschach use the grappling hook and climb 10 stories up to Blake’s apartment rather than taking the stairs or elevator? Wouldn’t a guy climbing the side of a building attract a lot of attention? (c1p5)
  4. What’s the deal with these cigarettes with the ball of tobacco in the middle? (c1p14)
  5. Why did Rorschach kick in Daniel’s door rather than just pick the lock? (c1p10) In chapter two we learn that he can pick locks. (c2p25)
  6. Why didn’t Veidt just lift up Rorschach’s grappling hook and let him fall to his death when he had the chance? For that matter, how did Rorschach get into Veidt’s building in the first place? (c1p18)
  7. Why do Dan and Laurie discuss their superhero past in a public place? Dan at least still has a secret identity to maintain. (c1p25)
  8. That’s an improperly folded American flag (c2p3)
  9. How come Sally Jupiter didn’t wear a mask and went by her real name? What training did she have? What motivation did she have? On a related note, “The Silhouette” didn’t wear a mask, either, but she didn’t use her real name. (c2p5)
  10. Why did the Comedian go to the “Crimebusters” meeting if he had no interest in joining? (c2p9)
  11. Why did the Vietnamese woman resort to such violent measures so quickly? Couldn’t the Comedian have been charged for murder for killing a civilian? (c2p14-15)
  12. Since this was written before the Rodney King riots, the idea that people would riot in favor of the police is somewhat plausible. However, humans, by their very nature are not fans of authority figures. It’s never established why people would rather have police than vigilantes. There’s no indication that the vigilantes are corrupt or worse for public safety (except maybe for Rorschach who considers himself judge, jury and executioner). And, as far as we know, there are only a handful of superheroes anyway and they all seem to be operating in New York City. Would it really take an act of Congress to outlaw them? (c2p17)
  13. How would Moloch have known The Comedian was Edward Blake just by taking his mask off? He never tells Moloch his name. (c2p22)
  14. The idea that The Comedian would just turn into a babbling baby and for some reason spill his guts to Moloch is completely out of character. As commenter Jango Davis pointed out: “He didn’t notify the military or the government and instead went home to watch TV and drink a beer. The Comedian hated Ozy, and I find it hard to believe he would have simply walked away from what he discovered – and then go running to Moloch of all people! All the Comedian had to do was call in an air strike against the island where he found the psychic mutant octopus and problem solved.”
  15. What cemetery locks their gate with a chain and padlock? What cemetery locks their gate at all for that matter? (c2p25)
  16. Why did it take four days for Daniel to get his lock fixed? (c3p7)
  17. What is the point of Dr. Manhattan’s interview? It seems forced into the story. It’s essentially a press conference rather than a talk show. (c3p12)
  18. If Wally Weaver died of cancer in 1971 that means Veidt’s master plan was at least 14 years in the making. Why would he kill Wally in 1971 and wait until 1985 for his scheme to come to fruition? (c3p13)
  19. How would Veidt have known Jon would have exiled himself from the planet upon learning his old friends and colleagues had cancer? (c3p19)
  20. Why isn’t there any safety features to prevent Jon’s accident from happening? How could there not have been an abort button? Wouldn’t someone have been standing guard to make sure no one went into the chamber? Wouldn’t the chamber have to have been cleaned out before the experiment? Why would Jon’s coat still be in there? (c4p7)
  21. That’s the central nervous system, not the circulatory system (c4p9)
  22. Why does Jon agree to work for the U.S. government? He really has no obligation to. (c4p12) For that matter, why does he agree to go to the Vietnam War? And why didn’t the war end in about 48 hours after his arrival? Why did it still take at least 9 months? (c4p19)
  23. It is highly unlikely that a Constitutional amendment would be ratified within a year (c4p21)
  24. Why is Dr. Manhattan wearing a thong? (c4p22)
  25. Rorschach is clearly not a liberal, but he chides Moloch for having an unlicensed gun. He’s essentially upholding gun control. So is he willing to uphold any law that passes or just the ones he agrees with? I’d think a conservative like him would admire Moloch for skirting the gun control laws. (c5p4)
  26. So the police just take a random, anonymous tip as gospel? Wouldn’t they receive a lot of prank calls and bogus tips? Why do they just assume this tip about where and when to find Rorschach is legitimate? (c5p22)
  27. If Moloch got shot in the forehead, why isn’t there an exit would out the back of his head? (c5p24)
  28. How did the police sneak up on Rorschach like that? Wouldn’t he have heard sirens or a bunch of tires screeching? And why does he jump out the front window instead of trying to out the back? (c5p25)
  29. Would getting Rorschach’s mask off really be the police’s top priority in apprehending him? Wouldn’t they want to make sure he’s cuffed and immobile first? (c5p28)
  30. Would Rorschach really be permitted to sit at a table across from the psychiatrist without any restraints whatsoever and no guard in the room? (c6p2)
  31. What prison would keep the deep fat fryer that close to the serving line? Wouldn’t all the cooking be done in the back to prevent exactly that from happening? (c6p12)
  32. Just because Rorschach decides to become a vigilante doesn’t automatically make him a competent detective or a fighter. (c6p14)
  33. Why does Laurie wear stilettos with her costume? They’re so impractical. (c7p24)
  34. I know Dan is a total dork, but why would he serve coffee to people who are being rescued from a burning building? Is caffeine really what they need right now?! (c7p25)
  35. The detective visits Dan because he obviously thinks Dan is Nite Owl because he was at the Comedian’s funeral, but how would the detective have known he was there? (c8p8)
  36. We already knew the entire prison population hated Rorschach, but only a handful of them gather around his cell during the riot. Wouldn’t there be a lot more of them? And why do they all leave just because “Mr. Figure” asks them to? (c8p14)
  37. How would simply killing Lawrence after Rorschach ties his arms up make it any easier for them to cut through the bars? NOTE: they addressed this problem in the movie by cutting his arms off rather than simply slitting his throat. (c8p15)
  38. Prison toilets are made of metal, not porcelain. You couldn’t just kick it and destroy it (c8p17)
  39. Why, if there’s a riot happening, are there hardly any prisoners when Dan and Laurie arrive? Why do they find Rorschach so easily? (c8p18)
  40. Prisons don’t have generic men’s restrooms - each cell has its own toilet. Also, prison are divided into cell blocks, not "wings." (c8p19)
  41. How did Dan work with Rorschach all those years before the Keene Act and never know his real identity and what he looked like? Rorschach knew Nite Owl was Dan Dreiberg. (c8p19)
  42. On page 4, Laurie indicates it’s a Sunday evening, but they don’t bust Rorschach out of prison until Thursday on Halloween night. There’s a few days unaccounted for.
  43. Not only would Laurie suffocate from no oxygen on Mars, wouldn’t she be fried from the radiation since Mars doesn’t have the atmosphere Earth has? (c9p3)
  44. We know that Sally had forgiven the Comedian enough to sleep with him and conceive Laurie, but when Laurie meets the Comedian for the first time, Sally becomes furious with him – why? What happened between then and now? It’s a major element of the plot that’s missing. And after he died she was sweet on him again. How did she come back around on him twice? (c9p16)
  45. On page 14 of chapter 9 Laurie says she went to that Crimebusters meeting in a limo, but after her mom Sally whisks her away she’s driving an ordinary car. (c9p16)
  46. Laurie went her entire life without so much as considering the Comedian was her father? She realizes it simply from memory – not any kind of DNA or other type of physical evidence. She had the ability to come to that realization at any point before, why now? (c9p24)
  47. Is Rorschach secretly gay? On page 11 of chapter 10 he’s shaking Dan’s hand after a slightly tender moment between the two and Dan has to pull it away from him. Rorschach always refers to him as “Daniel” and not Dan and never Nite Owl. Also, he previously wondered if Veidt was a homosexual and he’d investigate that further. Lastly, he tells his landlady that he’s upset that she told the press he’d made sexual advances on her and that was a “slur” on his reputation. Being raised by a prostitute raises all sorts of “nature or nurture” questions about his sexuality.
  48. Would Veidt really use a password that was so easy to guess? Or did he use such an easy to guess password to deliberately guide Nite Owl and Rorschach to Antarctica? (c10p20)
  49. How did the “Archie” airship fly from New York to Antarctica? Is it capable of flying as fast as a jet plane? Does it have the ability to hold a charge for a full round-trip journey to the South Pole? That’s gotta be an extremely long flight, did they stop anywhere along the way to eat, sleep or charge up? Is there a bathroom anywhere on Archie? According to this website it's an 18 and half hour flight! (c10p25)
  50. Dreiberg says the engines are starting to seize up due to ice. Because it was sitting in a river bed all day previously and the water is still there. If that were the case, the water would have frozen as soon as they got to cruising altitude of a commercial airliner. If they flew along the ground, then at some point they would’ve traveled through the tropics and the warm temperatures would've evaporated the water. Why wasn’t “Archie” equipped with de-icing heaters in the first place? (c10p25)
  51. The clock on Veidt’s machine indicate it’s 11:25pm on a Friday night in New York. Additionally, Joey tells the locksmith the guy he’s looking for gets off at 11:30pm. Yet, the sequences in New York would probably take place earlier in the evening. Would the news vendor still be open that late? Would the boy still be reading his comic book that late on a weeknight? Would Dr. Malcolm Long be on his way home from work? (c11p5)
  52. Veidt’s conspiracy is so vast, how would the Comedian’s accidental discovery of the island unveil the entire plot to him? That scene should have been included in the story somewhere. (c11p24)
  53. Why would Veidt have had Moloch’s place bugged? (c11p25)
  54. Since Watchmen was written well before 9/11, it’s relatively plausible to think Veidt’s master plan, of tricking the world into thinking there was an alien threat, would work. However, looking at it a bit more realistically and cynically, given the context, the United States would probably accuse Russia of staging the “Squid Monster” as some kind of terrorist attack meant to look like an alien invasion. Russia would probably accuse the U.S. of pulling some kind of inside job in order to gain global sympathy. Even in the context of this story, it’s quite unrealistic to believe that one incident would avert nuclear war and bring the two superpowers together (how exactly that happens is never explained). (c12)
  55. If everyone on the planet (except the Watchmen) thought the squid monster was indeed an alien, how did they explain what happened? What kind of alien can travel the cosmos but isn’t smart enough to know how to adapt to a foreign environment? This plan might’ve been a bit more convincing if Veidt had had the same sort of event happen in multiple places around the globe. NOTE: this issue was addressed in the film. (c12)
  56. Is the design of the squid monster intentionally vaginal? (c12p6)
  57. How did they replicate living tissue? Surely the squid monster would’ve been dissected and studied, wouldn’t it eventually have come to light that it was a fake, or that its genetics were terrestrial in nature, rather than extra-terrestrial? (c12p9)
  58. Where did Laurie get that gun? (c12p15)
  59. After hearing the news and facing the horrifying reality of what happened, would sex really be something Laurie would want to do shortly afterwards? (c12p22)
  60. Why does Dr. Manhattan feel the need to kill Rorschach? Everyone thinks he’s nuts. Even if he made it all the way home, who would believe him? (c12p24)
  61. Even if Seymour were to choose Rorschach’s journal, there’s no guarantee he would want to publish it. In fact, he had already read from it before (c10p24) and it was considered just another “crank file” entry. And even if they were to publish it, no one would take it seriously since “The New Frontiersman” is considered a wingnut conspiracy rag. (c12p32)