Chapter 2: "Absent Friends"

     Watchmen is a trademark of DC Comics Inc., copyright 1995.  
These annotations copyright 1995 by Doug Atkinson.  They may be freely 
copied and distributed, provided the text is not altered.

     Certain notes are true for each issue.  Each one is written by 
Alan Moore, drawn and lettered by Dave Gibbons, and colored by John 
     Moreover, each issue has a continuing motif, a reoccuring object 
or pattern that is seen on the cover, the first and last page (usually), 
and throughout the issue.  This issue's motif is the graveyard and the
Comedian's funeral, with the other characters' flashbacks.
     Another trend is the title, which is always an excerpt from an 
apropos quote shown in its entirety in the last panel.  This issue's title is 
from Elvis Costello's "The Comedians."
     The clock appearing on the covers counts the minutes to 
midnight, similar to the clock in the _Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists_, 
which is an estimate of the world's closeness to nuclear war.  The clock 
stands at 10 minutes to midnight, and advances by one minute per issue.

Cover: The angel statue in the cemetery.

Page 1, panel 1: The speaker is Sally Jupiter, Laurie's mother.  (Her 
name was originally Juspeczyk: she changed it to hide her Polish 
background.  Laurie changed hers back.)

Panel 2: Note the "Nostalgia" perfume ad and the issue of _Nova 
Express_.  (The title comes from a novel by William S. Burroughs of the same 

Note: My copy of the trade paperback (3d printing) colors Laurie's 
skin golden on pages 1 and 8 of this issue, making her look more like a
stereotypical comic-book Asian than the Vietnamese later this issue.  
This is, presumably, a production error.

Panel 3: The man in the lighter-colored raincoat in the middle is 
Dan, and the man he's shaking hands with is Adrian.  The limo is for Dr. 
Manhattan, not that he needs it.

Panel 5: Notice the police holding back the onlookers (protestors?) 
and the man with the "The End is Nigh" sign.

Panel 8: Sally's copy of the Minutemen group photo (we saw the 
Comedian's and Nite Owl's in the last issue.) We see here that the date is 
October 16.  Laurie is loading her pipe.

Page 2, panel 3: We see here that these pipes are lit by heating the 
ball (where the tobacco is stored).

Panel 7: The name of the retirement home is "Nepenthe Gardens." 
_Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary_ lists nepenthe as "A potion or drug used 
by the ancients to drown pain and sorrow; hence, anything causing oblivion."

Panel 9: Ashes from these ball-pipes are dropped out whole when 

Page 3, panel 2: Hollis Mason is the first Nite Owl.  Byron Lewis is

Sally's dressing table has a bottle of Nostalgia.

Page 4, panel 3: Tijuana Bibles are real (though Silk Spectre was 
obviously never really in one).  Their origin was unknown; the name derives 
from the theory that they were Mexican.

Panel 4: The speech bubble in the comic says, "Oh!  The door.  I 
wonder who it [is?]."

Panels 8-9: The taking of the Minutemen group photo in 1940; one of 
the last times the entire team was together.

Page 5, panel 1: From left to right, the team is: Mothman, Dollar 
Bill, Captain Metropolis, the Comedian, Silk Spectre, Hooded Justice, Nite 
Owl, the photographer, and Silhouette.  The headline reads, "Scientists 
Name First Artificial Wonder Element: Plutonium." The day is October 2, 
12, or 22, 1940.  (I can't tell if the paper is titled _Gazette_ or 

Research reveals that this is the right time for plutonium to be
synthesized.  This foreshadows the Manhattan Project, Dr. Manhattan, 
and the obsolescence of the old-style superhero.

Panel 2: The sign on the left reads, "Moloch's Solar Mirror Weapon;" 
the case on the right is "King Mob's Ape Mask."  The nameplate on the 
table is Mothman's, and the symbol on the back of his chair is presumably the
group's symbol.

Panels 3-4: Silhouette's line and Sally's response confirm a) 
Laurie's comment about the reason Sally changed her name (in issue #1) and b)
Sally's later comment (issue #9) about how Silhouette was an 
unpleasant person to work with.  (This line is Silhouette's only dialogue in the 
whole series; Dollar Bill has no dialogue at all.) Since Silhouette was a 
Jew who left Austria to avoid the Nazis, it makes sense she'd be against

Page 7, panel 6: There is evidence later that the Comedian's 
assumption here is correct (issue #9).

Panel 8: It is believed that the Comedian killed Hooded Justice in 
the '50's.

Panel 9: Note the time on the clock.

Page 8, panel 5: Again, my copy has two production errors: in this 
panel, Sally also has golden skin and her bathrobe is white.

Panel 6: I believe Varga is a real-world artist.

Page 9, panel 5: The attempted organization of the Crimebusters in 
1966.  From left to right: Janey Slater, Doctor Manhattan, Captain 
Metropolis, Silk Spectre II, Ozymandias, Nite Owl II, Comedian, and Rorschach.  
The newspaper reads "French Withdrawing Military Commitment from NATO" 
and "Heart Transplant Patient Stable." (Why are the headlines on the last

In our world, the first human heart transplant was performed on 
December 13, 1967.

It has been pointed out that the heroes gathered here cover the 
entire spectrum of motivations for super-heroics, and that we learn Captain
Metropolis' underlying motivations here (he wants to fight "social 
ills," as he sees them; some of his choices, such as "anti-war demos" and 
"black unrest," are very telling).  The Comedian's response is perhaps the 
second most pivotal event in the story (after the creation of Dr.  

This scene will be repeated numerous times from different points of 

Page 10, panel 1: Again, note the clock.

Panels 2-3: The headline reads "Dr. Manhattan 'An Imperialist Weapon' 
Say Russians." An internal headline mentions "Dick." The Comedian is 
wearing the leather costume he started wearing in 1941, but still has the 
domino mask (which he wore until the '70's).

Panel 5: Janey is saying something to Dr. Manhattan; we find out what 
in issue #4.

Note Rorschach's style of speech, and compare it to his later speech.

Page 11, panel 2: Moloch was a stage magician-turned-crimelord; he 
appears later this issue.

Panel 7: Nelson Gardner is Captain Metropolis' real name.

Panel 8: Nelson's speech, and Ozymandias' reaction to the Comedian's
outburst, are *extremely* significant.

Page 12, panel 5: Vietnam, 1971.  Dr. Manhattan's involvement led to 
a quick Viet Cong surrender.  (Note that this panel layout is unusual 
for the series; the nine-panel grid is usually altered only by combining 
panels, or occasionally by dividing the panels in half.)

Page 13, panel 1: VVN stands for "Victory in Viet Nam."

Panel 5: The yellow man by the helicopter is President Nixon; the two 
"V for victory" gestures is a mannerism commonly associated with him.

Page 14, panel 2: "Number ten" is slang for "bad;" "number one" is 
slang for "good." (This is authentic slang.)

Panel 7: Note the blood on the smiley-face button.  This incident is 
the reason Blake changed masks.

Page 16, panel 4: New York, 1977.  The riots during the police strike 
just prior to the Keene act.  The building on the left is "Treasure 
Island," the comics shop from the first issue; the beginning of a "Who Watches the
Watchmen" graffito is being added below it.

Page 17, panel 2: The symbol on the middle woman's T-shirt reappears 
later in modified form.  It's obviously a militant feminist symbol; I am 
unsure if it has been used in real life or is original here.

Page 6: The headline reads "Cops Say 'Let Them Do It;' Senator Keene
Proposes Emergency Bill." This leads to the Keene act, 
re-illegalizing vigilantism (see issue #4).  The spatter on Archie (to the right of 
the paper) is the same shape as the blood-spatter on the smiley face.

Page 18, panels 2-3: Jon Osterman is Dr. Manhattan's real name.  The
kidnapping referred to is explained in issue #6.

Page 19, panels 2-3: The Comedian's smiley-face button, last 
appearance.  Dan cleaned off the blood in 1:11:4.

Panels 4-5: The man placing the flowers on the grave is Moloch.

Panel 6: The man shaking hands with Dr. Manhattan here is Adrian, as 
seen by the cufflink.

Panels 7-9: The sign man is following Moloch; this is a clue to 
something that is revealed later.

Page 20, panel 1: The man on the left has a copy of the _New 

Panel 2: The headline reads, "Soviets Will Not Tolerate U.S.  
Adventurism in Afghanistan."  I'm not sure if this is meant to be the same 
headline as in issue #1, page 10, panel 1, or not.  If not, it indicates the 
Soviets getting more belligerent and confrontational.

Panel 3: The door is latched here, so Rorschach probably entered 
before Moloch arrived home.

Panel 5: Notice the "ice cream," "pizza," and "frozen" boxes.  
Evidently Moloch doesn't worry much about calories, or housekeeping.

Panel 7: Why didn't Rorschach suffocate?  It takes a while for water 
to boil.  Maybe this world has safer refrigerators...  (The glass milk 
bottle is interesting, by the way; one wonders if it's still delivered to 
the door, too.)

Page 21, panel 4: Rorschach gives us another clue to his identity 
here.  Since he doesn't have a vast army of assistants, he has to have seen 
Moloch there personally.

Panel 5: This is the first good look we get at Moloch's pointed ears. 
It is unclear if they have been surgically altered or are natural.

Pages 22-23: All will be made clear later.  This is a good summary of 
the plot underlying the whole series.  (Artistic note: All these panels 
are from Moloch's POV, which only changes a little, but does shift as he 
moves his head.)

The light changes because of the blinking "The Rumrunner" neon sign 
outside his window.

Page 24, panel 4: Laetril (or Laetrile) is a real-world drug, 
marketed as a cancer cure but ultimately found to be fraudulent.

Page 25, panel 1: "Enola Gay and the Little Boys" is a reference to 
the first atomic bomb used in WWII and the plane that dropped it.  This 
ties in with Ozymandias' theories in issue #10 about increased warlike 
imagery in times of international tension. 

Page 28, panel 7: The flowers on this page parallel the flowers on 
page 1.

Pages 29-32: More of _Under the Hood_.  This section has a lot of
information about the Minutemen.

Page 7, paragraphs 6-7: Part of the attention to realism that this 
series was noted for.  Most superhero costumes are very impractical and 
flourish by reader suspension of disbelief.

Paragraph 8: An interesting chronological problem.  He says he first 
became active in "the early months of 1939" and it has been said that he was 
the second costumed hero.  However, the first article about Sally in 
issue #9 is dated January 12, 1939.  Three months of preparation after Hooded
Justice's first appearance in mid-October, 1938, would put him right 
around that date; but it seems strange that Larry would prepare the Silk 
Spectre identity after only one costumed hero had appeared (one is a fluke, 
but two is a trend).  Moreover, the article referred to the "superhero 
bandwagon," which wouldn't have been the case this early.  The simplest approach 
is to assume that the date on the article is in error.

Page 9, paragraph 3: Captain Metropolis' "strategic approach" stems 
from his other career: "Marine Lieutenant USMC Nelson Gardner: Free-Lance
Consultant" (issue #9).

Paragraph 7: Hooded Justice wasn't actually interested in Sally; they 
acted as a couple to provide a smokescreen for his real interests.  (Issue 
#9 again.)

Photograph: I presume that's the "Solar Mirror Weapon" on the wall.  
That seems to be mistletoe Blake is holding over Sally.

Page 10, paragraph 2: What on earth was the "Solar Mirror Weapon" 
for, given Moloch's described MO here?                      Doug Atkinson