Wednesday, February 06, 1985

Watchmen Chapter VI: "The Abyss Gazes Also"

Spoiler warning: If you have not read Watchmen, do not read these notes. See intro/disclaimer.

Cover: The cover of this chapter is a Rorschach blot that does indeed, as Rorschach himself claims, look like a butterfly; so much so that most people probably would say so as their first impression. The dead dog that Rorschach actually sees is however also an incredibly strong resemblance. The point of this chapter is in many ways embodied in this ink blot, as the lesson in the end is that reality is whatever you make of it when "staring at it for too long", and yet in a way, it's just blobs of ink. Of course the fact that Rorschach tests are being given to a guy named Rorschach is an irony lost on nobody except for perhaps Malcolm Long. This inkblot will be seen again on page 6 of chapter XII.

Page 1, panel 1: One might wonder why, if Malcolm is trying to help Walter disassociate himself from his fantasy Rorschach personality, he would have chosen this particular test.

Page 1, panel 3: Note nothing on the table but a couple notebooks; this will change.

Page 1, panel 6: Rorschach has been injured by his left eye. This is the reverse of the standard imagery, but then isn't Rorschach a reflection of society?

Page 1, panel 8: After being deprived of his "face" and beaten by the cops, Rorschach's face is far from symmetrical.

Page 1, panel 9: Malcolm is either stupid, overly-optimistic, or some combination of both. One meeting and a few inkblots and "I really think he might be getting better."?

Page 3, panel 2: This is the first of a handful of Rorschach's flashbacks, all of which are highly unpleasant.

Page 4, panel 5: Young Walter thought his mother needed rescuing.

Page 4, panel 8: Note the similarities both visually and in "dialogue" to 3.2.

Page 6, panel 6: Rorschach's second childhood flashback. Perhaps this vignette establishes his need to see justice?

Page 6, panel 9: In the notes at the back of the chapter, it is said that others assumed this was an unprovoked attack, as Walter apparently never explained that he was insulted and assaulted.

Page 7, panel 4: Even as a child, he improvised weapons on the spot.

Page 9, panel 2: Second session; Malcolm has brought a bottle of pain medication.

Page 10, panel 1: Walter had to work making women's clothing.

Page 10, panel 2: Dr. Manhattan even had an indirect role in helping create Rorschach.

Page 10, panel 3: Of course Rorschach would like the dress, he hates shades of gray.

Page 10, panel 6: The infamous Kitty Genovese incident really happened, and in our world as well...

Page 11, panel 8: ...but Malcolm thinks Rorschach made it up.

Page 11, panel 9: The theme ink blot again.

Page 13, panel 2: Malcolm's desk: two bottles of pain reliever. Note Veidt logo on this as just about everything.

Page 14, panel 1: Now three bottles.

Page 14, panel 9: "You have friends?" Very sensitive, Malcolm.

Page 15, panel 4: That clock again.

Page 16, panel 5: We'll see this panel again. Coincidences seem to abound at this location.

Page 16, panel 6: The graffiti lovers are a sort of Rorschach test themselves. When Rorschach saw them in the previous chapter, he thought of ghosts. Malcolm sees them and thinks of Hiroshima.

Page 16, panel 7: Another clock at five to midnight.

Page 18, panel 2: Most likely, Walter's "personal reasons" were that it made him think of himself as a child?

Page 18, panel 4: Rorschach's second and final defining moment also takes place at a dressmaker's.

Page 20, panel 9: Rorschach's "shocked face" for the first time chronologically, but the last time in the book.

Page 21, panel 9: "Dark" in every sense.

Page 24, panel 4: Different shape for this bloodstain, but notable anyway.

Page 26: Rorschach's personal, nihilistic philosophy; and yet he seeks justice in the midst of meaninglessness.

Page 27, panel 7: So-called "good people" sometimes wink at evil, don't they?

Page 28: In the end, Malcolm seems to have accepted Rorschach's philosophy, rather than the other way around.

Page 29: The Kovacs casefile. Note that Walter didn't think much of his mother, and so formed a complex fantasy about his father that he never met. The picture from his dream is a bit of "fearful symmetry".

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