Posted by: kcgadiyar | November 2, 2008

Sundays with the Watchmen, Week 3: Watchmen#3 review

I’d always hoped that the big decision would lie with somebody else. This is going to take some thinking about. It’s like the old naval battles, so much depends on a quirk of the wind. The wind’s a force of nature, it is totally impartial. Totally Indifferent. I think we’ll give it a week, gentlemen, before bringing out our Big Guns… after that, humanity is in the hands of a higher authority than mine. Let’s just hope he’s on our side.” – Richard Nixon, contemplating a Russian nuclear strike, Watchmen#3.

After the small task of giving us a background of the universe in which Watchmen is taking place over the past 2 issues, Moore jumps straight into the plot, and its a doozy. All the elements for the big reveal in Issue#10 and 11 start being put into place. And, I manage to make my self-imposed deadline by having this post up on Sunday. All this and more in Watchmen#3: “The Judge of all the earth”

Watchmen#3 cover

Watchmen#3 cover
The issue starts off in the newsstand which would eventually go on to become a permanent feature in the coming issues. We also get introduced to the book-within-a-book “The tale of the Black Freighter”. It is said that Alan Moore wanted a metafictional device, but he did not want it to be a superhero comic book, because who would read a comic about superheroes in a world where they already exist. So, he decided to make it a pirate story instead. (The “Tale of the Black Freighter” will be reviewed along with all other extras before the review of the big reveal in issue#11)

There are 3 scenes which run concurrently in this issue: The Newsstand, The Dr.Manhattan plot and The plot involving Nite-Owl II and Silk Spectre II

The newsstand scene is especially filled with allusions as the man holding the sign “The End Is Nigh” comes asking for his paper, and affirms “I am pretty certain the world will end today” and before leaving turns to the owner of the newsstand and says “You will keep my paper for me tomorrow?”. And at the end when the owner tells him “I see the world did not end yesterday” he simply replies “Are you sure?”. This was Moore nudging us towards the identity of the man which would be revealed sometime later.

We get a background of the relationship between Dr.Manhattan and Laurie Juspeczyk, as their personal life is threatened by Manhattan’s dedication to his work. This leads Laurie to seek out a friend in Dan Drieberg. Despite having hung up their capes long ago, they prove to be more than a match for some muggers in an alley.

But the main storyline acting as the one holding this issue together is of Dr.Manhattan, after Laurie angrily storms out, Manhattan gets dressed to appear on a talk show. While on this show, he is blindsided by a reporter who claims that everyone Manhattan was close to has come down with Cancer. This is a brilliant touch by Moore as this plays off Moloch’s reveal of having cancer in issue#2, in fact it is even referenced by the reporter. This causes a lot of speculation that the Cancer is caused by the fallout that Dr.Manhattan may be giving off. The government puts a lot of pressure on Dr.Manhattan, this causes him to teleport to Mars, but not before stopping off at an unknown location to take a polaroid from a display case, this photo is touched upon in greater detail in the next issue.

The Issue ends with Dr.Manhattan in a contemplative mood on Mars, where as the U.S government, now short of its most effective detterent in the doctor, is scared of strikes by the russians.

Watchmen#3 cover

This was another brilliant issue by Moore. The symbolism in this issue is off the charts, each background is painstakingly brought to life by Gibbons. There are so many allusions, taking all of them in is a huge endeavour in itself. This issue makes a bigger impact once issues# 4-6 are done because a lot of the threads glossed over here are picked up in those issues and expanded upon. Of course, judged on its own merit, the issue is good, but falls short of classic(we will get to classic stage later on), not quite an effective stand-alone issue though. But, this issue is a necessary evil, as all of the story beats introduced here go on to influence the Watchmen universe in a big way further down the line.

I will go with 3.5/5 for this issue. It has done its job and layed the foundation with all major storylines being started. And that was all it was expected to do.

Watchmen#3 cover

Next week: My personal favorite issue. The Spotlight on Dr.Manhattan in Watchmen#4.

Until Next Time,


Previous Installments:

Week 1:

Week 2:



  1. Awesome

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