From plot debriefs to key motifs, Thug Notes’ Watchmen Summary & Analysis has you covered with themes, symbols, important quotes, and more.
Watchmen (1986) | Written by: Alan Moore | Published by: DC Comics
Watchmen by Alan Moore
Thug Notes Summary & Analysis
Yo what’s good? This week we maskin’ up with Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
Da year is 1985 and LL cool J ain’t da only thing bout to blow up: Da beef between Russia and da US has gotten so tense dat nukes might start flyin any second. But dem Ruskies gonna think twice befo’ they make a move, cuz da US got a viagra-lookin’ super thug named Dr. Manhattan on their side who can control thangs on goddamn MOLECULAR level, meanin he can be multiple places at once, teleport, turn Washingtons in to Benjamims- this brutha can do almost anything!
Manhattan is one of a whole crew of badasses dat used to protect da city back when. Cept these days, people don’t want nobody callin da shots but da po-lice, so all dem playas runnin’ round in their undies gotta put their hustle to the side. But a stone cold G named Rorschach don’t give a DAMN bout dat and still be rockin a mask to patrol da mean streets.
When Rorschach hear that somebody tossed da Comedian, one of da OG superheros, out a damn window, he figger somebody might be tryna ice old costumes one by one. So he hollas at all da other retired masks- the gadget slangin Night Owl, da super sexy Silk Spectre who shacked up wit Doc Manhattan now, and Ozymandias- the smartest, and RICHEST, homie in da world.
Papa Smurf Manhattan decide to go on a lame-ass talk show when some
dude start runnin his mouth sayin’ dat chillin wit his big blue ass causes cancer! Word? Da news gets the Doc all riled up and he decide dat dealin wit these loud-ass piles o’ molecules jus’ ain’t worth a shit and peaces out to Mars.
Now dat Mr. Clean outta da picture, da Russians like “haaaell yeah” And
start flexin’. Lata’ an assassin try to kill Ozymandias, but he jus shakes dat hater off. Rorschach gets played, whooped by the fuzz, and holed up in the big house. If it wasn’t clear already, Rorschach was right: somebody IS tryna mess wit deez heros.
So Silk Spectre and Night Owl take a break from fu**ing, suit up, and bust Rorschach outta jail. Later, Doc Manhattan scoops up Silk Spectre and takes her to Mars so they can chop it up. Silky axe the Doc to come back to Earth and stop da world from ending, but the Doc don’t really give two shits bout savin’ humanity cuz it ain’t make no difference to da universe. But after Silk Spectre chews his ass out, the doc finally snaps out of it, and decide he gonna return to earth.
Eventually Rorshach and da Owl realize dat it might be Ozymandias who mastermindin’ all dis mess, so they swang over to his winter pad and say “yo Ozy, dafuq man?” Ozy like yo- here’s the deal: Da whole world is rotten to the core, and gonna tear itself to shit unless somebody step up and do somethin’ bout it. I got a plan.
￼ I’m gonna kill a shit ton of people, blame it on a giant alien- squid dat I pulled outta my ass, and then errybody will be on the same side. Naw mean?” They all like “Yeaaahhhh…. Fu** dat. We gonna stop you.” But Ozy like “too late it already happened 35 minutes ago.” Oh sh**.
And jus’ like brutha thought, errybody put they difference aside and unite. Ozy like “I did it! Everlasting peace. How you like me now son?!” But Manhattan jus’ like “Baby nothin’ lasts forever.”
Rorshach try to bounce and tattle on Ozymandias, but Doc Manhattan tell him he best not cuz at this point, da truth can only hurt. Rorschach ain’t backin down so the Doc just turns his ass in to mush.
One thing Ozymandias didn’t plan on though, was at Rorscach got his whole scheme written down in a journal, which now chillin at the office of a journalist. Does the world learn dat they were saved by a lie? Or does Ozzie’s new world order keep on truckin? Good question, yo…
This sh** right here is so dank dat it made it into Time Magazine’s top 100 novels eva’ written. And it sho as hell deserve it- cuz Watchmen is
complex as hell.
First off, Dis graphic novel don’t read like most.
We always trippin’ back and forth through time, switchin’ perspectives, and readin parts of made up books, letters, and notes at da end of erry chapter. To readers used to cruisin’ through stories held together by cause and effect, Watchmen was a good ol fashioned mind-fuck. Not only do dis messy story-tellin represent da clusterfuck of a world dis book take place in, and our own, but it also mirror da way Doc Manhattan see time:
“There is no future. There is no past. Do you see? Time is simultaneous, and intricately structured jewel that humans on viewing one edge at a time, when the whole design is visible in every facet.” (9.6)
Throughout dis book people geekin out tryna say Doc Manhattan’s existence gone and changed da whole world fo’eva, cuz now Gods walkin’ amongst regular erryday hoods. But da crazy thing is dat it ain’t somebody wit super powers dat come to define da world. Naw baby, the fight for humanity’s soul is between two superhumans, wit’ emphasis on da “human” part: Ozymandias and Rorschach.
Ozymandias massacred half of New York city fo the GREATER good, but Rorsach jus’ say you shouldn’t kill innocent people STRAIGHT UP and even give his life tryin to spread the truth. Do the ends justify the means? What’s mo important? The saving lie? Or the Truth?
To Rorschach, errything is black and white- jus’ like his mask. No grey. Like he say: some bruthas is good, some bruthas is bad, and the bad ones gonna get what’s comin to em.
￼ Also, His mask always changin shapes like a true blue rorschach test and symbolize da way he see da world:
“Born from oblivion; bear children, hell- bound as ourselves, go into oblivion. There is nothing else. Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose” (6.26)
Ozymandias’s name come from Rameses II, da pharoah of Egypt who was runnin’ da game durin’ da 13th century BC. Percy Shelley wrote a dope poem bout dat hustla, and Watchemen’s 11th chapter even ends wit a quote from it:
“My Name is Ozymandias, king of kings; look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.”
So yeah, on one level it’s just Ozymandias thinkin he high balla’- dude’s whack-ass plan to save humanity from itself, and him actually pullin it off, make him look like he deserve mo’ props than anybody else. But if you take a closer peep at Shelley’s poem, you’ll see it ain’t jus bout talkin up da ultimate badass- it showin dat even though it seems like Rameses II got da world sold up, ain’t nobody legit enough to dodge the all destructive power of time.
“Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/ Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare/ The lone and level sands stretch far away”
It don’t matter how legit you get in life- you and what you leave behind ain’t gonna be around forever. Doc Manhattan even drop dat same truth:
Sparky reads quote: “Jon, wait, before you leave… I did the right thing, didn’t I? It all worked out in the end? J: In the end? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.” (12.27)
So is it worth holdin back da horrible truth fo’ even a little bit of peace? Or is da truth mo’ important? A question like dat is maybe jus’ too crazy to answer. Maybe when we faced with whack horrors like dat, we only got one option: try to put a smile on dat face, and laugh about it.
Yo if you liked philosophizin’ bout truth and da greater good, take a couple mo’ minutes and check out my eps on The Brothers Karamazov and The Grand Inquisitor. I promise, it’s all some real tight sh**.
Thanks fo’ checkin me out. I’ll see y’all next time. Peace.