"That Annihilated Place": November 22nd (or 23rd), 1992. Seven years have passed since Ozymandias's mass murder of 3 million people in New York City on November 2nd, 1985. We learn from what seems to be a new version of Rorschach's journal, that Veidt's crazy dream of uniting all humanity a
- My dream has died. I cannot save our world. Though there is one who, even now, has the power to.
Synopsis for "That Annihilated Place"
November 22nd (or 23rd), 1992. Seven years have passed since Ozymandias's mass murder of 3 million people in New York City on November 2nd, 1985. We learn from what seems to be a new version of Rorschach's journal, that Veidt's crazy dream of uniting all humanity as one against a common enemy did not work at all "in the end", and that the American dream has turned into the American nightmare. Dr. Manhattan's (or, with Rorschach's words, "God's") disappearance has left the world in chaos, and international nuclear conflicts are more likely than ever. Rorschach wonders if it wouldn't be better to just let the world burn this time. On the news, apocalyptic events are related: the vice-president shot and killed the Attorney General, the European Union has collapsed, Russia is threatening to invade Poland, North Korea has a fire-power capable of reaching Texas, thousands of Americans are looking for shelter in Mexico... and the POTUS is playing golf. In other news, we learn that Ozymandias is on the run as his scheme was figured out and the USA government intend to convict him to prove their non-involvement in its execution. The Russians, on the contrary, affirm that the President and his cabinet were willing participants to the massacre. Veidt, by the way, is not the only former vigilante gone missing: there's no public news about Dr. Manhattan, Nite Owl, Rorschach or Silk Spectre, either. Independent news broadcasters are in time substituted by the National News Network, the only official bulletin in the US.
Meanwhile, a military team enters Karnak, finding an x-ray test that shows brain cancer in the patient's skull.
The National News Broadcast announces that, unfortunately, Russia has in fact invaded Poland, leaving no other answer than the atomic bomb: if the Russian military doesn't leave the occupied territory in four hours, the US will attack and thus a mandatory evacuation of the populace has been issued across the country.
In a prison, a man who claims to be Rorschach, but not the one who died at the hands of Dr. Manhattan in '85, is trying to remember which high-security cell he needs to open. He's been having a bad morning, as he had to sacrifice his desired breakfast to break the hands of his favorite waitress' boyfriend, who had beaten her.
While he turns the key to Door 31, elsewhere another hand turns another key, activating the launch of a nuclear warhead, at the orders of the President of the United States.
Rorschach opens Door 31, finding inside it Erika Manson, The Marionette. She's shocked to see Rorschach alive, so he proves her to be another Rorschach by showing her his black skin, as he removes one of his gloves. Even so, he refuses to be considered an impersonator, frequently restating "I AM Rorschach". Getting to business, Rorschach hands Manson her "payment" for a job he needs her to do. The envelope contains a photo of her son and she'll be told his location once she's found God (i.e. Dr. Manhattan), thus saving the world. Erika gets infuriated, but ultimately accepts to one condition: that her husband, Marcos Maez, known as The Mime, comes along.
In another section of the prison, some inmates, led by a Billy, are vexing a guard and intend to rape him as the end of the world is near. The only inmate not playing along is Maez, who just watches the scene with contempt, without a single word. Billy orders his fellow inmates to grab Maez and starts punching him repeatedly. Suddenly, Erika and Rorschach arrive and she calls for him to go alongside them on their mission. Erika says she knows he's in the middle of a performance (playing the underdog and then "Ba-ba-bum! The dramatic turn"), but he needs to hurry. Immediately, with a big smile on his face and crazed eyes, The Mime kills all his harassers and joins Rorschach and Erika. With less than three hours to go, Rorschach urges the couple to get going, but there's another problem: Maez won't leave without his "special" weapons, which appear to be two invisible (or imaginary) guns.
While the mandatory evacuation in New York City goes on, Rorschach and the couple walk in the sewerage to meet with the former's mysterious partner. At a crossroads, Rorschach can't remember if they should go right or left. The Mime points his guns at him and Erika tells him what's going to happen next: he'll take them to his partner and reveal the location of their son, or they're going to get their tongues pulled out of their mouths, which is what The Mime did to himself and the reason why he doesn't talk. Rorschach doesn't answer to the threat, simply deciding the right way is to go... right.
The trio enters a huge, metallic door, leading inside Nite Owl's hideout. Despite the clues leading Erika to believe his partner to be Nite Owl, Ozymandias comes out of the shadows, with a smaller Bubastis in his arms. Erika immediately threatens to kill him if he doesn't tell her where her son is, adding that his head must be worth millions now. Ozymandias, with his usual calm demeanor, answers that he'll pay her two HUNDRED million dollars for her job, and will tell her everything she wants to know, as long as she stops with the threats. He especially advises against threatening the new Rorschach, calling him less predictable and more uncompromising than the first one. Rorschach is visibly bothered by these remarks, asking Ozymandias to shut up and concluding: "I am Rorschach. Nothing else to tell".
Getting back to the core of the matter, Ozymandias reveals he's got cancer (the brain cancer in the x-ray test) and, because his dream to be the one who saves the world died, he needs to get back the one who can: Jon Osterman, Doctor Manhattan. Their mission must then be to find him, "wherever he's retreated to."
In another reality, in the city of Metropolis, Kal-El, a.k.a. Clark Kent, a.k.a. the superhero Superman, is sleeping beside his wife, Lois Lane. He dreams of a high-school party he's forced to participate in by his parents Martha and Jonathan Kent. He argues that people his age don't understand him and they agree that it's frustrating to not be able to tell anyone about his secret identity. As the Kents go back home, they discuss about what will happen when they're not around for Clark anymore, when they are suddenly hit by another car and crash against a tree, dying.
Clark is woken by Lois, as he was yelling in his sleep and the whole room was shaking. He tells her of his nightmare, remarking he doesn't think he ever had one before in his life.
Appearing in "That Annihilated Place"
- William F. Buckley Jr.
- Seymour David (Deceased)
- Jonathan Kent (In dream sequence only)
- Martha Kent (In dream sequence only)
- Lana Lang (In dream sequence only)
- Pete Ross (In dream sequence only)
- Rorschach (Walter Kovacs) (In a photograph only)
- Byron Lewis (In a photograph only)
- The Comedian (Mentioned only)
- Nite-Owl (Mentioned only)
- President Robert Redford (Mentioned only)
- Silk Spectre (Mentioned only)
- Instead of being published on Wednesday November 22nd, this book was released 3 minutes early at 11:57 PM on Tuesday November 21st.
- The supplemental information section is the paper revealing Veidt's fake alien invasion and something called "Operation: Commodus", an operation overseen by the President himself. It also features reports regarding the deaths of Byron Lewis and Seymour David, otherwise known as the men who found Rorschach's journal. Worse yet, the reports indicate that despite wanting to stop Armageddon, Rorschach's efforts have only increased the odds of nuclear war.
- The title of the story comes from the second version of the poem "Ozymandias", by Horace Smith.
- According to Rorschach, the date is either November 22nd or November 23rd 1992. This provides a contrast to the first Rorschach, who always pinpointed the exact date of his journal entries.
- The date of the story (November 22nd) is also the planned date of publication of the comic, but see "Notes" above.
- According to writer Geoff Johns, he created Mime and Marionette as the Watchmen Universe version of Punch and Jewelee. (This continues the recurring concept of the Watchmen being inspired by Charlton characters. In Mime and Marionette's case, Punch and Jewelee were Charlton villains.)
- The novel Walden Two by B. F. Skinner can be seen on Clark Kent's nightstand. In a nutshell, Walden Two is a sci-fi novel about a man who built a utopia via behaviorism, the idea that human behavior can be controlled by manipulating the notion of reward and punishment. This mirrors how Veidt attempted to achieve a utopia via elaborate manipulations in the original Watchmen, but of course, that didn't work nearly as well as it did in Walden Two.