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Chapters in Watchmen

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The following are detailed descriptions of chapters in the graphic novel Watchmen by Alan Moore. Chapter descriptions include plot summaries, brief descriptions of the fictional documents attached to each chapter, and various other motifs and trivia.

Chapter I: At Midnight, All the Agents...

Chapter01
Opening Image: A smiley face, lying on top of a pool of The Comedian's blood. There is also a drop of blood on the face.
Plot Summary: Edward Blake is mysteriously thrown out of his apartment window and plummets to his death on the street. Rorschach investigates and finds that Edward Blake is in fact The Comedian. Rorschach notifies Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl II), Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias), Dr. Manhattan (Jon Osterman) and Laurie Juspeczyk (Silk Spectre II) of the hero's death. Laurie then meets Dan for drinks and reminiscing.
Closing Quotation: "At midnight, all the agents and superhuman crew go out and round up everyone who knows more than they do." - "Desolation Row" by Bob Dylan.
Attached Document: The first two chapters of Under the Hood by Hollis Mason are presented. They describe why he decided to become the costumed hero "Nite Owl".
See Also: There is an animated version of the first book floating around in MP4 format, last seen on Demonoid.com. (Very cool except for the male narrator speaking the female voices).

Chapter II: Absent Friends

Chapter02
Opening Image: A statue of an angel in a graveyard during The Comedian's funeral.
Plot Summary: Instead of attending Edward Blake's funeral, Laurie visits her mother, Sally Jupiter (Silk Spectre I), at a retirement home in California. Sally remembers the night The Comedian attempted to rape her after the first photoshoot of "The Minutemen", the earliest costumed hero organization. Before actually committing rape, Hooded Justice finds the two and attacks The Comedian. Back at the funeral, Adrian Veidt, Dan Dreiberg and Dr. Manhattan witness The Comedian's funeral service. Veidt recalls the failed proposal of organizing "The Crimebusters", a second costumed heroes league. The Comedian speaks out to say that such an idea is simply a joke and that in less than 30 years, World War III will commence - a nuclear war. Dr. Manhattan remembers an instant during the end of the Vietnam War. When The Comedian is visited by a Vietnamese woman whom he had impregnated, they begin to argue. The woman cuts The Comedian with a broken bottle, leaving a large scar on the right side of his face. The Comedian responds by shooting her down. Dr. Manhattan witnesses the entire conflict without intervening, and The Comedian makes note of this. Dan Dreiberg's memory involves his time spent with The Comedian during the riots caused by a police strike. Meanwhile, Rorschach visits the retired costumed villain Moloch to question him about The Comedian's death. Moloch describes The Comedian visiting him while drunk late one night, nearly a week before his death. He appears to be worried, fearful and saddened, mentioning vague activities taking place on an island full of scientists, artists and writers. After hearing this, Rorschach visits the graveyard and takes a single rose from The Comedian's grave.
Closing Quotation: "And I'm up while the dawn is breaking, even though my heart is aching. I should be drinking a toast to absent friends instead of these comedians." - "The Comedians" by Elvis Costello.
Attached Document: Chapters III and IV of Under the Hood by Hollis Mason. They discuss the formation of The Minutemen.

Chapter III: The Judge of All the Earth

Chapter03
Opening Image: A trefoil symbol that represents radioactivity. The symbol is on a sign reading "FALLOUT SHELTER".
Plot Summary: The characters of the news vendor and the young boy reading the pirate comic are introduced. Laurie has an argument with Dr. Manhattan (who is becoming more distant to her). She visits Dan while Dr. Manhattan makes a rare public appearance on a talk show. Dan and Laurie head out for the night and are attacked by thugs. Their crime fighting training proves handy as they make quick work of their attackers. Meanwhile, a reporter from the Nova Express accuses Dr. Manhattan of giving various forms of cancer to those who get close to him. When the issue is pressed by the media, Dr. Manhattan becomes angered. In an outburst, he teleports everyone in the television studio into a nearby parking lot. The story is instantly a top priority among news stations. Dr. Manhattan informs the army he is leaving to Mars. He then transports himself to an abandoned shack, taking a photograph of a man and a woman at a carnival. After staring at it briefly, he leaves Earth. His departure is a startling message through various news sources, as well as word that Russia has invaded Afghanistan.
Closing Quotation: "Shall not the Judge of all the Earth do right?" - Genesis, chapter 18, verse 25. (Genesis 18:25; Abraham is begging God not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah)
Attached Document: Chapter V of Under the Hood. It describes the downfall of The Minutemen during the 1950s, along with the birth of new costumed vigilantes.

Chapter IV: Watchmaker

Chapter04
Opening Image: A photograph of Jon Osterman and Janey Slater at a carnival.
Plot Summary: The chapter discusses Dr. Manhattan/Jon Osterman's current location on Mars and revisits various turning points in his life. When his father, a watchmaker, hears about the bombing of Hiroshima, he pushes Jon to become a scientist. Jon attends Princeton and is eventually employed by a research lab at Gila Flats in 1959, where he meets and eventually falls in love with Janey Slater. At a carnival, a fat man steps on and breaks Janey's watch. Jon later fixes the watch, but forgets it in his lab coat. When he goes to retrieve his lab coat from a test vault, he is accidentally locked in. When Dr. Glass and others arrive back from their lunch break, Jon embarrassingly asks to be released, but to everyone's horror, the vault has automatically time-locked and generators have already began warming up to begin an experiment: removing the intrinsic field from cell block fifteen. Expecting certain death, Jon examines the watch he has put back together. He is then disintegrated in a flash of light. A month later, "ghosts" of Jon begin to appear at the research site. First a circulatory system, then a muscled skeleton, etc. Finally, he appears as a complete being, entirely blue with abilities far greater than that of a normal human being. He retains all of his memories and has vaguely similar physical features, although he appears distant and somewhat unemotional to those around him. He begins to argue frequently with Janey, whom he still dates and says he loves and needs (although this is a lie). In addition to his new, purely scientific outlook on life, he can telekinetically assemble and disassemble objects, transport himself or others great distances, alter his size and multiply his image, among other things. He is almost immediately recruited as a military asset of the United States, given the moniker "Dr. Manhattan". He is touted as the first super hero with actual super abilities, worrying the active costumed heroes who are already beginning to disassemble for various reasons. Although he is the United States greatest weapon, he is apparently unable (or unwilling) to prevent certain disasters, such as the assassination of President Kennedy. In 1966, Jon leaves Janey for the then sixteen-year-old Laurie. He becomes a hero at Vietnam and is the only superhero to be left active after the Keane Act besides The Comedian, who is also employed by the government (and Rorschach, who evades capture). Then Jon briefly remembers Laurie leaving him and his current activities on Mars. He creates a giant, glass structure that rises from the soil, then stands on its balcony to watch a meteorite shower.
Closing Quotation: "The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking. The solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I would have become a watchmaker." - Albert Einstein
Attached Document: The introduction to Dr. Manhattan: Super-powers and the Superpowers by Professor Milton Glass. Professor Glass discusses the dangers of Dr. Manhattan. He also dispels the myth that he was the one who came up with the popular phrase "The superman exists and he's American". Instead, he chillingly told the press "God exists and he's American".

Chapter V: Fearful Symmetry

Chapter05
Opening Image: Upside down club sign
Plot Summary: Throughout this chapter, the author reveals a lot of hidden symmetry and the nature of Rorschach, comparable to that of Ozymandias. The reader must analyze the cracks in the case and the hidden clues. The chapter title itself is a clue, however, the entire issue is symmetrical beginning with the first panel mirroring the last panel and so fourth. The chapter starts when a man walks through the rain past discarded newspapers reporting Russia's invasion of Afghanistan. The man walks into a house, which is soon to be revealed as Moloch's. Moloch climbs out of his bed and takes a gun for safety. Remembering Rorschach's break in last time he checks the fridge wherein he finds a note saying "Behind You". It has been left by Rorschach who then questions him about The Comedians visit to Moloch's a week before his murder. Rorschach makes suggestions that the list was related to the press allegations that Dr. Manhattan has given cancer to many of his close friends. Realising Moloch has no intentional part in this plan, Rorschach leaves. Meanwhile a man, fearing nuclear holocaust, has murdered his two children before taking his own life - we join them during the police questioning his wife. The scene cuts again to the newspaper vendor, who discusses the end of the world with a delivery man who puts forward the idea that in World War III, as opposed to the Second World War, there will be no place to run to. The boy reading the pirate comic learns of the character's plan to make a raft of wood, using the bodies of the dead men who had gas in their stomachs for buoyancy. During this time, Dan and Laurie are having dinner, Dan invites Laurie to live with him after she has been asked to leave her home in the military and had her expense account shut down now that Jon has disappeared. Rorschach, who has ventured outside without his mask to wait for news from Moloch, via a secret message, sees Dan and Laurie leaving the diner. The pirate story continues, with the protagonist seeing the reflection of himself as a maniac, while the news vendor rants to anyone who will listen about the apathy of the world. Adrian Veidt walks to a meeting, discussing ideas of morbidity, death and an afterlife with his secretary who is merely concerned with physical appearance and money. She is shot at and hit, while Veidt fights the man who eventually bites into a suicide capsule to prevent Veidt discovering who sent him. At Moloch's, Rorschach discovers that he was murdered, and a bullhorn from outside commands Rorschach to come out and surrender - clearly, it is a trap. Rorschach attempts to escape by jumping out of a window but twists his ankle upon landing and is overwhelmed by the SWAT troops. He is then taken into custody.
Closing Quotation:"Tyger, Tyger/burning bright, In the forests/of the night, What immortal hand or eye/Could frame thy fearful symmetry?" - "The Tyger" by William Blake
Attached Document: "A Man on Fifteen Dead Men's Chests"- magazine article about Tales of the Black Freighter

Chapter VI: The Abyss Gazes Also

Chapter06
Opening Image: Rorschach inkblot
Plot Summary: Rorschach (now out of costume and in prison) is being interviewed by psychiatrist Dr. Malcolm Long. Long shows Rorschach an inkblot which looks to Rorschach like a dog with its head split in half; though Rorschach tells Long it looks like "a pretty butterfly." Long comments in his journal that Rorschach is getting better, then shows him another ink-blot which causes Rorschach to have a flashback to when as a child he walked in on his mother having sex with a man. The man gets upset and leaves and pays her five dollars. (apparently she is a prostitute) She gets upset and then beats Rorschach. When Long asks Rorschach what he just saw in the ink-blot, Rorschach responds, "Some nice flowers." Rorschach is then led back to his prison cell while other prisoners threaten to kill him for having gotten them locked up in the past. Rorschach then has a flashback to when he was a child and some older kids are taunting him because his mother is a prostitute. One of the kids smashes a piece of fruit in Rorschach's face and then Rorschach takes a cigarette out of the bully's mouth and then shoves it in the bully's eye. Rorschach then attacks the other bully and starts biting his face. Several bystanders then try to pull Rorschach off.
Closing Quotation: "Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." -Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
Attached Document: New York State Psychiatric file on Walter J. Kovacs. Contains a file on Kovaks by a certain Charlton home for problematic children.

Chapter VII: A Brother to Dragons

Chapter07
Opening Image: Nite Owl's hovercraft ("Archie") reflected in lens of goggle from his costume
Plot Summary: Laurie explores Dan's underground base further, almost setting it on fire after mistaking one of the buttons on Archie's console for a cigarette lighter (which turns out to be a flamethrower). Dan explains his collection of superhero inventions and mementos, often talking them down along with his own beliefs. Laurie - captivated - tries her best to raise his spirits and uphold their nostalgic value. On return to the main apartment, Dan and Laurie start to watch TV when passion sparks between them- they attempt to make love but Dan's biology isn't cooperating. The pair fall asleep and Dan has a nightmare involving an old fan of his, Laurie, and a nuclear explosion (similar to the charred Hiroshima couple on New York's walls). Dan awakes and slouches -naked- to the basement. Laurie - finding him - consoles him and by chance they find out that a nearby tenement is on fire. Donning their costumes (for Laurie, the first time since retirement) they set out in Archie to rescue the block's inhabitants. After they are led to safety, Dan's passion is re-awakened (partly due to the fact he's in costume) and the pair have sex on board. Afterward Dan realises that in order to get to the bottom of the case they have to break Rorschach out of prison.
Closing Quotation: "I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls. My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat." Book of Job Chapter 30, verses 29-30 (Job 30:29-30)
Attached Document: "Blood from the Shoulder of Pallas" ornithology article by Daniel Dreiberg

Chapter VIII: Old Ghosts

Chapter08
Opening Image: Statuette of Nite Owl I, engraved with the message "In Gratitude"
Plot Summary:
Closing Quotation: "On Hallowe'en the old ghosts come about us, and they speak to some; to others they are dumb." - "Hallowe'en" by Eleanor Farjeon
Attached Document: Draft of the New Frontiersman for Thursday, October 31st, 1985.

Chapter IX: The Darkness of Mere Being

Chapter09
Opening Image: An open bottle of Nostalgia cologne tumbling against a starry backdrop.
Plot Summary: Dr. Manhattan transports Laurie with him to his crystal palace on Mars. In order for her to breathe, he creates a breathing cloud that surrounds her.
Closing Quotation: "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." - C.G. Jung, from "Memories, Dreams, Reflections"
Attached Document: A section from Sally Jupiter's collection of newspaper clippings and letters about her career as Silk Spectre I (the movie critic credits her as Sally JUNIPER).
Trivia: The "Smiley" image makes another appearance in a Martian crater. This is an existing geographical feature on Mars, called the Galle crater.

Chapter X: Two Riders Were Approaching...

Chapter10
Opening Image: A Radar screen showing two incoming aircraft.
Plot Summary:
Closing Quotation: "Outside in the distance a wild cat did growl, two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl." - All Along the Watchtower by Bob Dylan.
Attached Document: Letters, promotional materials, and other business documents taken from Adrian Veidt's desk.
Trivia: In the chapter's opening image, the radar screen's artifacts make a vague smiley face, and a wedge of reflected light is in the 5-minutes position.

Chapter XI: Look On My Works, Ye Mighty

Chapter11
Opening Image: A tropical garden seen through a small hole in the snow.
Plot Summary:
Closing Quotation: "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings; look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" - "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Attached Document: Nova Express interview with Adrian Veidt, from July 12, 1975. The interviewer is Doug Roth, who appeared in Chapter III.
Trivia: The shape of the hole in the snow matches that of the blood spatter on the Comedian's badge, as seen in the opening image of Chapter I; the penultimate image of the chapter also echoes this shape.

Chapter XII: A Stronger Loving World

Chapter12
Opening Image: A clock at midnight, its face running with blood.
Plot Summary: Rorschach and Dan Dreiberg discover that Adrian Veidt is behind the attacks on the masks. They meet Adrian at his south pole base and argue about the morality of his actions and his plan to bring peace and union to the world by teleporting a genetically engineered "Alien Monster" to New York City, killing millions. Dr. Manhattan and Laurie Juspeczyk also go to the south pole to try to find out who brought the horrors of the "alien" to the world. They try to stop Adrian from causing further harm but when he gets through with his plans all the masks present agree to keep the secret of who caused the creature's appearance and the killing of people that united the world, to keep the peace. Rorschach, however, doesn't agree with keeping the secret, which results with him walking into his own death because he knows Dr. Manhattan will not let him reveal the truth. In the end, the previously ignored journal of Rorschach is picked by the newspaper he sent it to.
Closing Quotation: "It would be a stronger world, a stronger loving world, to die in." - John Cale, "Sanities"
Attached Document: None, however this last chapter is four pages longer than any previous one.
Trivia: The closing panel contains the same image - a smiley face with a spatter of red - as the opening image of Chapter I. At the end of the story, though, the stain is ketchup, rather than blood.
Watchmen Chapters
Chapter I: At Midnight, All the Agents...Chapter II: Absent FriendsChapter III: The Judge of All the EarthChapter IV: WatchmakerChapter V: Fearful SymmetryChapter VI: The Abyss Gazes AlsoChapter VII: A Brother to DragonsChapter VIII: Old GhostsChapter IX: The Darkness of Mere BeingChapter X: Two Riders Were Approaching...Chapter XI: Look On My Works, Ye MightyChapter XII: A Stronger Loving World

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