Thursday, February 07, 1985

Watchmen Chapter VII: "A Brother to Dragons"

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

Cover: The cover image in this case is, at first glance, a repeat of the continuing motif of a "face" with a mark over the right eye. When on the first page we once again open with a zooming-out sequence, we see that this is indeed a mark over an eye, but in this case, a left eye, and the "eye" that we saw in the original picture was a reflection in this eye, therefore also being a left eye. While book five was specifically about symmetry, there is, of course, a symmetry to the whole series; the reversal to a left eye may allude to the fact that we are now past the midpoint of the overall story, and what follows reflects back on what came before (see comments on page 4 below). This scene being viewed through the goggles of Dan's Nite Owl costume introduces the theme of this chapter, not often stated outright: Dan feels as though his Nite Owl persona (symbolized by his continually watching costume) is somehow living and calling out to him. The whole of this chapter seems to revolve around the idea of (to borrow a phrase from Superman) "mild-mannered" Dan Dreiberg, a guy who is really pretty much as boring as he fears himself to be. And yet within Dan is the possibility of transforming into Nite Owl if he would just "...blow away the cobwebs." Many things in this chapter remind me of Frank Miller's Return of the Dark Knight.

Page 1: Clearly, Dan hasn't even touched any of this stuff in a long time until today.

Page 2, panel 7: Dan and his dusty old "jalopy" may seem sort of cute, but there's power there that one might never suspect.

Page 4, panel 8: "Looking back..."

Page 4, panel 9: "...hindsight...on reflection." Aside from these words describing the scene, they also hint at the theme of the costume watching over his shoulder.

Page 6, panel 1: The Comedian and Laurie have a few things in common, eh?

Page 7, panel 3: "These days it hardly bothers me at all." ...as the suit looks on once again.

Page 8, panel 5: "...I sort of regretted the Crimebusters falling through..." I've noticed that many people who comment on Watchmen talk about which heroes were members of the Crimebusters, but as far as I read it, that superhero team never came to be, having only that one short meeting.

Page 8, panel 8: "Is there any other sort?" Dan knows costumed adventurers are all a little off in the head.

Page 9, panel 9: "...everything was as clear as day." Surely Rorschach feels the same way about his "face", without the night vision.

Page 10, panel 4: Dan is clearly very lonely himself. Loneliness is actually a major underlying theme to Watchmen, as all of the characters are profoundly alone; here we see even Laurie felt alone when she was with Jon, and they were the only superheroes that didn't live by themselves.

Page 10, panel 9: "These days, I feel like something's watching my every move..." To me, this panel is the central theme of the chapter.

Page 12, panel 3: Chronologically, this chapter happens before most of the events of the previous chapter.

Page 13: On the next three pages, the television narrates what's going on, sometimes with ironic contrast.

Page 18, panel 3: A yellow circle with...oh you get it.

Page 18, panel 4: Dan's owl-like shadow falls on the door to his "workshop".

Page 18, panel 5: He goes down...

Page 18, panel 8: ...to his costume.

Page 19, panel 8: I don't think I need to explain this.

Page 20, panel 7: Dan and his suit look at each other...

Page 20, panel 9: ...and he puts it on.

Page 28, panel 1: They're both going back to old habits, apparently. (Note that "habit" is a word with multiple meanings, one actually being "costume".)

Page 28, panel 4: "...to come out of the closet." both figuratively and literally. The last six panels are a zoom out from the partially-obscured eye of the costume...

Page 28, panel 9: ...to the partially-obscured eye of the Owlship. Laurie was probably talking about sex, but Dan was talking about the thrill of adventuring in itself. Nite Owl is back.

Page 29: "Blood from the Shoulder of Pallas" by Dan Dreiberg. In the movie "Batman Begins", Bruce Wayne says of choosing a bat as his symbol, "Bats frighten me. It's time my enemies shared my fear." Here we see a bit of Dan Dreiberg's view of owls, and their relationship to their prey. Like an owl, his ship comes in with a screech and paralyzes his prey, and he sees Nite Owl as a dangerous predator. Also note that in the story he is telling, he has just left visiting Mothman ("a sick acquaintance at a hospital in Maine"), and perhaps he thus fears something else as well.

1 comment:

migca said...

Page 14, panel 1: It might be a bit redundant pointing out all the "Smiley Face" analogs but here, the circular Nostalgia bottle is limned in yellow and echoed by the moon.

Any comments about juxtaposition between Dan and Laurie's awkwardly stymied love-making and the performance Ozymandias on TV? I felt like like I was missing some fairly obvious point.

Page 15, panel 3: That appears to be a clock on the wall not following the usual pattern. Is this the only one up to this point? It seems that either you pointed out an earlier one, or I saw one and failed to make a note. Of course now, I can't find either your reference or the clock.

Page 15, panel 6: Another yellow circle...