Chapter 5: "Fearful Symmetry"

     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 
skull-and-crossbones, and mirror images in general.
     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 William Blake's poem "The Tyger."
     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 7 minutes to midnight, and advances by one minute per issue.

Cover: Reflection of the "The Rumrunner" neon sign outside Moloch's 
window.  The "RR" symbol and the bones give us a skull-and-crossbones, and the 
RR is a mirror image.  The "Forecast: Cloudy, heavy rain later" line on the 
paper is symbolic foreshadowing.  Rorschach is reflected at the very top.

A note on the layout of this issue: The entire issue's story pages 
are a mirror image.  Page 1 reflects page 28, page 2 reflects page 27, and 
so forth; the two-page spread on pages 14-15 is where the "mirror" 
lies.  Each page is a reflection both of layout and content.

Page 1, panel 1: The sign reflected again.  That's a copy of the 
_Gazette_ with the "Russians Invade Afghanistan" headline, and a Gunga Diner 
takeout box.

Panel 9: The speaker is Moloch.

Page 3, panel 4: Note the broken Gordian Knot lock.  It must be 
freshly broken; Moloch wouldn't have been able to close it if it were like 

Panel 6: Checking the refrigerator, remembering issue #2.

Panel 9: Rorschach signs all his notes with the "blot" symbol.  He 
doesn't write very well, as shown later; it's possible, though, that he used 
the capital "H" because it has horizontal symmetry.

Page 5, panel 5: Rorschach is correct in this assumption; the list in
question was the cancer list.  More later.

Panel 6: Rorschach either believes in checking every possible lead, 
no matter how remote, or is a raving paranoid.  The likelihood that 
Moloch could be behind all this is somewhat farfetched.

Page 6, panel 5: The Chrysler Building is visible in the background.

Panel 6: We see the island later.  (It all ties together.)

Since this is Monday, Rorschach must have great endurance to hold on 
so long.  He's probably used to it, though.

Panel 7: The puddle again.

Page 7, panel 1: The triangle symbol, with an Eastern connection.  
The smear of blood across the face repats the smiley-face from #1.

Panel 3: The lamp in the upper right repeats the very minor theme of 
a zig-zag pattern on a sphere.  Officer Capaldi is the woman on the left of 
the panel.

Panel 6: Note the skull-and-crossbones in the "Grateful Dead" poster. 
(The other posters read, "Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life" 
and "No Nukes.")

Page 8, panel 1: The truck is, again, from Pyramid Deliveries, and 
gives us the triangle again.  (A triangle also has mirror symmetry.)

Panel 8: The early arrival of next month's comics explains how the 
kid has the new "Black Freighter" already.  Tuesday is a a somewhat unusual 
day for a comics shipment to arrive, at least in our world.

Page 10, panel 1: The Gunga Diner interior.  The speaker is Laurie.  
Most of this page is seen in a mirror.

Panel 4: The Diner is across from the Utopia.  (The people walking on 
the street have been shown in passing before; the woman with the girl was 
seen in 1:4:5.) They're now showing "Things to Come" (reflecting the theme 
of change).  The "Y"-shaped symbols contain traingles and have a mirror-
symmetry themselves.

At this distance, Dan should probably be visible in the mirror.

Page 11, panel 1: The hands on this page belong to Rorschach.  Notice 
the symmetrical stain pattern on the plate, and the Heinz bean can.  
Rorschach wears his watch on his right wrist, a clue to his identity.

Panel 3: The pile of _New Frontiersman_ under the bed are another 
hint to Rorschach's real identity.

Panel 4: We see his mother in the next issue.

Panel 5: Another mirror-image; the "Hiroshima lovers" are a theme for 
the rest of the series.  "Who Watches the Watchmen" graffiti in the 

Panel 6: Once again, Rorschach is either investigating _all_ leads or 
is behaving like a paranoid loon.  Laurie is more plausible than Moloch, 
but not by much.

Panels 7-9: Rorschach is creating a Rorschach blot with the napkin; 
its shape is an upside-down question mark, perhaps referring to his
inspiration, the Question.  The gang sprays another "Hiroshima 
Lovers" image on the wall.  The man in panel 8 may be dropping the message
Rorschach picks up on panel 18; he faintly resembles the courier from 
issue #10, but is too far to really tell.

Page 12, panel 1: "Afghanistan: Is Pakistan Next?" The radiation 
symbol is still on the wall.  This page is the first to alternate real and 
"Black Freighter" panels.

Panel 5: Note the "...don't people see the *signs*? Don't they know 
where this is *headed*?" viz. the sign-man in the background.

Panel 7: The Chrysler Building is vaguely visible behind the 

Panel 8: Another mirror image, and streak across eye (related to the 
issue #1 smiley face).

Panel 9: Notice the "The End is Nigh" man going through the trash.  
>From this we can postulate the layout of this corner, Fortieth and 

 Gunga|   | Promethean
 Diner|   | Cab Co.
-------   ---------------   /|\
          Newsstand          | N
-------   ---------------    |
Utopia|   | Institute for
      |   | Extraspatial
      |   | Studies

(Does this corner exist in "our" New York?  What's located there?")

Page 13, panel 1: The shiny desk and floor provide another mirror.  
The hands belong, of course, to Adrian; the woman is his secretary.  The 
"V" has mirror symmetry, and the link on the desk forms an "X" (what this 
may signify I don't know).

Those are very interesting symbols on Veidt's computer terminal.  
Some of them make sense (an =, a :, a 0) but others are incomprehensible.  
Does he use some bizarre sort of code on his personal terminal?

Panel 3: Is Veidt foreshadowing the end of this issue?  Does he know 
too much?

Pages 14-15: This split-page panel is unique in the series.  The pool 
is another mirror surface.

Page 17, panel 4: The _Gazette_ headline reads, "Industrialist in 
Murder." Notice the sign man in the background.  The person by the corner 
might be Joey.

Panel 8: And the sign man is in the trash again; we learn the 
significance of this later.  Ironic line from the newsvendor.

Page 18, panel 1: The same graffiti we saw on page 11.  The hands in 
the panel (mirror image) appear on 2/3 of the panels on the page.  If 
alert, you can work out the identity of Rorschach here.

>From the slant, the writing could be by someone left-handed.  Moloch 
is left-handed; look at the way he holds the gun in the beginning of 
this issue.  If this is a fake, it's a good one.

Panel 4: Another Pale Horse poster on the left, above a torn 
Ozymandias Famine Relief poster; on the right, more "Who Watches the Watchmen?"

Panel 5: A Nostalgia ad.

Panel 6: Compare Rorschach's pulling on the glove with the woman's 
pulling on her stocking.  Is Rorschach being ironic when he says, "My 
spotless gloves," or is he overlooking their condition?

Panel 8: Note the similarity of mugger and victim's silhouette to the

Page 19: Another mirror.

Panel 6: On the table is "Under the Hood." The old heroes have been 
on Dan's mind lately.

Page 21, panel 2: Joey, last seen in issue #3.

Panel 3: _Hustler_ is a real-world "men's" magazine, noted for being 
more hardcore and pornographic than Playboy or Penthouse.

Panel 8: Another triangle image (compare with Pyramid Deliveries) and 
the militant feminist symbol.  The poster read, "Pink Triangle LIVE at 
the Gay Women Against Rape Benefit Concert."

"Pink Triangle" is actually an odd name for a lesbian band.  The 
symbol comes from Nazi Germany, where gay men were made to wear pink 
triangles.  Lesbians and other "undesirables" wore black triangles.  The usage of 
the pink triangle as a symbol for all homosexuals is seen by some as 
sexist, and some militant lesbians prefer to use the black triangle.  Since 
the point-up orientation of the symbol can indicate greater militancy 
than the more common point-down, one is left with the impression that Moore 
and Gibbons were trying to fit the poster into their motifs.

Also note that the term is "gay women," not "lesbians."  We learn 
later that "gay woman" has become the accepted term.

Panel 9: The ad on the back of the _Hustler_ reads, "For Smokers With
Balls" and is for the ball-pipes. (The copy is sort of ironic.  We've 
seen the holders used by people in Happy Harry's, a man in New York in #4, 
page 4, and a minor character in this issue on page 13, but Janey and 
Laurie use them too, as well as the man embracing the other man in issue 1.  
Surely not *all* these people are in _Hustler's_ target audience.)

Page 22, panel 3: Notice the "Gunga Diner" balloon out the window.  
If that's the same one, the station must be close to the action of the 

Panel 4: The shot of the Dead poster here gives us half of the 
album's title.  The full title is "Aoxomoxoa," a palindrome.  Gibbons claims 
to have chosen this by pure chance, but it stil fits the motif.

Panel 6: The case number on the Blake file has a palindromic number, 
and all the numbers in it have vertical and horizontal mirror symmetry.

Panel 7: He means "Rorschach," of course.

Panel 9: The skull-and-crossbones on the poster again.

Page 23, panels 1-3: A return to page 1.

Panel 4: New graffiti on the wall by the Rumrunner.

Panel 6: The broken Gordian Knot lock; comparison with page 3, panel 
4 shows that Rorschach has broken it again.  (The damage is different, 
and the second lock has "X"s on it framing the keyhole.)

Page 24, panel 3: Underboss was a major mob crimelord; Rorschach and 
Nite Owl eventually apprehended him.

Page 25, panels 3-6: Rorschach is gathering makeshift weapons here.  
The aerosol can reads "Veidt For Men Hair Spray."

Page 26, panel 3: "Here be tygers" refers both to the quote giving us 
the story title, and the practice of filling in unknown areas on old maps 
with "Here be dragons."  It may be NYPD slang for the unknown and 

Page 28, panels 1, 5: The "Rumrunner" logo is similar to that of the 
real-life Ramrod club, placing the apartment on West Street off 
Christopher.  The cop's "goddamned queer" line also points to that area, and is 
similar to Comedian's line from issue #, page 7, panel 6.

Panel 9: Once again the puddle.

Pages 29-32: "A Man on Fifteen Dead Men's Chests," Chapter 5 of the
_Treasure Island Treasury of Comics._  An overview of the history of 
DC's "Tales of the Black Freighter."  EC and DC are/were both real 
publishers.  Joe Orlando is a real person; he's a VP at DC now.  In the real 
world, comics centered on superheroes, which declined in the '50's: the 
horror comics of that period brought about public disapproval.  In this 
world there were few superhero comics: there was no witchhunt and EC 
remained strong.  (Ironically, though, the superheroes helped the survival of 
the form; see page 59, paragraph 1.) Marvel never made it (since, in the 
real world, their growth can be traced to FANTASTIC FOUR #1).

The title refers to the classic pirate song "Fifteen Men on a Dead 
Man's Chest."

Page 61, paragraph 4: "Marooned" is the story Bernie is reading.

Page 62, panel 2: Another reference to Max Shea's disappearance 
(first mentioned in issue #3).

By the way, if anyone is interested in reading a collaboration 
between Alan Moore and Joe Orlando, look for SECRET ORIGINS #10, the secret origin 
of the Phantom Stranger.                      Doug Atkinson