"Absent Friends": Laurie Juspeczyk visits the Nepenthe Gardens retirement home to see her mother, Sally, the original Silk Spectre. She only came because she's been forced to visit, transported by Jon since she hadn't wanted to attend the funeral of Eddie Blake. Sally shows a large sense of symp
Synopsis for "Absent Friends"
Laurie Juspeczyk visits the Nepenthe Gardens retirement home to see her mother, Sally, the original Silk Spectre. She only came because she's been forced to visit, transported by Jon since she hadn't wanted to attend the funeral of Eddie Blake. Sally shows a large sense of sympathy for Blake.
During her conversation with Laurie, Sally remembers the night that the Minutemen were taking their group photo in 1940. The group discussed the war in Europe, until the original Nite Owl stopped the discussion and they all headed down to the Owl's Nest, except for Sally who stays behind to change her clothes. The Comedian stepped into the room and interrupts her, attempting to sexually assault her to which Sally clawed his face. Blake brutally attacked her, intending to rape her, before Hooded Justice walked in. He viciously attacked Eddie, but lets him go when Eddie says to him "This is what you like, huh? This is what gets you hot..."
At Eddie's funeral, Adrian Veidt recalls the first meeting of the Crimebusters, held by Nelson Gardner, Captain Metropolis, in April, 1966. Nelson attempt to recreate another team of masked adventurers since the Minutemen's breakup in 1949. However, The Comedian derided Nelson's plan as "bullshit" and accuses Nelson of trying to seek personal glory as akin to "playin' cowboys and Indians." Nite Owl II (Dan Dreiberg) defends Nelson's Crimebusters idea by saying that he and Rorschach had made some success together fighting criminal gangs. Though Rorschach agrees with his partner, but he sees the group as more of a "publicity exercise" and too unyielding. Ozymandias speaks in that the group only need the right person coordinating them. The Comedian continues to mock the group's intentions, especially Veidt's, and arguing the Crimebusters would not make a difference in a world heading towards nuclear apocalypse. He then burns Metropolis' presentation board and leaves the room with nearly everyone following. Nelson, in vain, begs them not to leave, telling them that someone had to "save the world."
Doctor Manhattan recalls "V.V.N. Night" - the celebration of America's victory in the Vietnam War due to Manhattan's intervention - in Saigon with Blake and discussing his strange attitude toward life and war, how he sees it all as a joke, although admittedly not a "good joke." He mentions how anxious he is to leave the country. A Vietnamese woman approaches Blake and tells him that she is pregnant with his child. She also asserts that Blake has a responsibility to the child. Blake doesn't seem to care, saying how he will forget them and their entire country. The woman angrily breaks a glass bottle and slashes Blake's face. Blake impulsively shoots her, while Manhattan stands watching. Blake then lashes at Manhattan for not intervening to save the woman and accuses him of not caring about human life. He then walks away to look for someone to heal his face as he laments over Manhattan's loss of touch with humanity.
Dan Dreiberg recalls how he and The Comedian worked riot control during the 1970's Police Strike in New York. The streets are crowded with angry rioters, but The Comedian and Dreiberg (as the Nite Owl) clear the streets after The Comedian throws a gas bomb into the angry mob. Looking at the devastation, Dreiberg asks Blake, "What's happened to the American dream?" Blake replies, while staring into the foggy streets filled with riot gas, "It came true. You're lookin' at it."
As the funeral ends, Dan drops The Comedian's smiley face badge into the grave. A man in a trench-coat leaves flowers on Blake's grave and walks to his apartment. The man is suddenly ambushed by Rorschach, who leaps out of the man's refrigerator. Rorschach identifies him as Edgar Jacobi, a former villain known as Moloch the Mystic. He questions him about Eddie Blake, and Jacobi explains that he attended Blake's funeral out of compulsion because Blake broke into his home one night while he was in bed, babbling about how it's all a joke that he doesn't get it. Blake mentioned an island with writers, scientists and artists, and he says that he did bad things before leaving. Rorschach doesn't consider the retired villain as Blake's murderer. He then informs Jacobi that he found him using Laetril, a faked cancer cure medicine that is widely illegal. Jacobi defends himself that he was diagnosed with cancer and was desperate. Rorschach leaves Jacobi alone but will be seeing him again.
Rorschach goes to the cemetery at night to pay his respects to Eddie Blake. Finishing his journal entry, he leaves the cemetery with a red rose.
Appearing in "Absent Friends"
- Crimebusters (Flashback only)
- Minutemen (Flashback only)
- Edgar Jacobi (Flashback and main story)
- United States of America
- Vietnam (Flashback only)
- Owlship (Flashback only)
Synopsis for "Under the Hood"
Hollis Mason becomes deeply interested in the Hooded Justice's actions and decided upon himself to become a super-hero, known as the 'Nite-Owl'. The name was based on his habit to work out as much as possible. Although his first exploits were largely unspectacular, it has aroused a lot of media interests simply because at the time dressing up in a costume and protecting a neighborhood had becoming something of a fad.
Within several months since the appearance of the Hooded Justice, several other costumed vigilantes began to appear: Silhouette, Mothman, the Comedian, Captain Metropolis, Silk Spectre (Sally Jupiter), and Dollar Bill. Hollis reflect on each of their background and how people thought of them. Regardless of the heroes' reasons and their faults, Hollis believed them to be "doing something because [they] believed in it."
On the suggestion of Captain Metropolis, Sally Jupiter and her agent Laurence Schexnayder, the heroes band together to form the Minutemen in 1939. However, the Minutemen did not last long. The Comedian's attempted rape of Sally Jupiter resulted in his departure from the Minutemen and Sally's decision not to press charges against him, as persuaded by Schexnayder for the group's image. The Comedian soon changed his flimsy costume for leather armor following an unconnected stabbing incident, and became a war hero in the Pacific Theatre during World War Two. Hollis personally hoped that America have a better class of hero than the Comedian.
Problems for the Minutemen further deteriorated. In 1946, a newspaper exposed Silhouette's lesbian relationship with a woman and the group was forced to expel her on Schexnayder's persuasion. Six weeks later, Silhouette was murdered along with her lover by one of her former enemies. In the same year Dollar Bill was shot dead by bank robbers. In 1947, Sally quit crime-fighting and married Schexnayder, and gave birth to her daughter Laurie in 1949. By then the villains that the group fought were less interesting to fight. Their enemies were either imprisoned or moved to less glamorous activities. Among those is Moloch, who began as a stage magician at the age of seventeen and became an flamboyant criminal mastermind before moving into impersonal crimes such as drugs, financial fraud and vice clubs. Hollis concluded that the Minutemen was finished, but it didn't matter. The damage had already been done.
Appearing in "Under the Hood"
- The title of the issue is taken from Elvis Costello's "The Comedians." A passage from "The Comedians" appears at the end of the issue: "And I'm up while the down is breaking, even though my heart is aching. I should be drinking a toast to absent friends instead of these comedians."
- The End-Is-Nigh man is seen outside the gate of the cemetery.
- Rorschach's word balloon at the Minutemen meeting noticeably matches those of the other character's; it has not yet developed the jagged borders.
- The Comedian's (accurate) rant about Doctor Manhattan not caring for Laurie Juspeczyk much like he did with Janey Slater foreshadows what will happen in Manhattan and Laurie's deteriorating relationship.
- When Edgar Jacobi returns to his home, there is a newspaper bearing the headline: "Soviets Will Not Tolerate U.S. Adventurism in Afghanistan." This is previously foreshadowed in issue #1 and ultimately becomes prominent in issue #3.
- On page 7, panel 6, when Hooded Justice prevents Blake from raping Sally Jupiter, Blake bleeds on his yellow jumpsuit in the same position he wears the badge at the time of his death.
- On page 14, when Blake is slashed across the face by the pregnant Vietnamese woman, some of his blood falls on the smiley badge.
- Nepenthe Gardens is named after Nepenthe, a drug that brings happiness and forgetfulness in some Greek legends. This could be stated as the purpose of such rest homes, but can also be seen as an ironic statement, since it is common for residents in these homes to become sorrowful and feel emotional pain at their solitude and separation from their families.
- In the Minutemen photo op (2:5:1) there is a newspaper headline: "Scientists Make First Artificial Wonder Element: Plutonium." Plutonium was first produced and isolated on December 14, 1940 and later used in the development of the first nuclear weapon in the Manhattan Project. However, its discovery was not announced until 1948 because of wartime security measures. This also foreshadows the coming of Doctor Manhattan.
- Silhouette's remark about the Poles aimed at Sally Jupiter (who changed her name from Juspeczyk to Jupiter) directly relates to Laurie's comment to Rorschach in issue #1 that her mother changed her name so nobody would know she was Polish. During the period between World War I and World War II, anti-Polish sentiment ran high in Germany, and some of the German disdain spilled over to America, which had a large population of both German and Polish immigrants.
- On Sally Jupiter's table (2:8:5) is a Nova Express headline: "How Sick is Dick? After 3rd Presidential Heart Op?" In the real world, Richard Nixon fell ill to phlebitis in 1974 before recovering in early 1975. He died on 8 August 1994, from a stroke caused by the atrial fibrillation from which he had suffered for many years.
- The painting of Sally Jupiter (2:8:6) is done by Alberto Vargas, a real-world pin-up artist of the early to mid twentieth century.
- Sally paraphrases (2:8:7) Matthew 5:45: "That ye may by the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (King James Version)
- The priest overseeing the funeral rite is reading from The Book of Common Prayer.
- The newspaper that The Comedian is reading (2:9:5) bears the headlines: "French Withdraw Military Commitment from NATO" and "Heart Transplant Patient Stable." France withdrawn from all NATO military activities in June 1966 after French President Charles de Gaulle grew frustrated by the United States' strong role in the organization and what he perceived as a special relationship between it and the United Kingdom. The first human-to-human heart transplant was performed by Professor Christiaan Barnard in 3 December 1967; however, the patient Louis Washkansky lived only for eighteen days. Apparently, due to science and technology is more advanced in the world of Watchmen, this version of the heart transplant was more successful.
- On Captain Metropolis' presentation board that he mentions as "new social evils" - promiscuity, anti-war demonstrations, "black unrest", drugs - clearly reflects on his conservative and racist views which were mentioned in Under the Hood.
- In Doctor Manhattan's flashback to Vietnam, Richard Nixon is seen giving two "V for victory" gestures. This mannerism commonly associated with him in real life, where he struck the same pose just before boarding the Marine helicopter that took him from the White House following his resignation from the Presidency. Nixon's posing with the helicopter is based on the well known photograph taken by Dutch photojournalist Hubert van Es of an American helicopter evacuating South Vietnamese civilians on the day before the collapse of Saigon during the final days of the Vietnam War.
- The Comedian's remark, "I mean, if we'd lost this war . . . I think it might have driven us a little crazy, y'know? As a country," is a comment on the reality of the Vietnam War, in stark contrast to the war in the world of Watchmen.
- The Comedian's dismissive remark "Saigon number ten, New York number one, okay?" In the pidgin language used for exchanges between Americans and Vietnamese during the war, "number one" means "the best" and "number ten" meant "the worst".
- The Gordon's Gin logo on the mirror (2:14:6) is cropped to show only "Gord," creating a resonance with Alexander the Great's challenge of the Gordian Knot—a motif that will be repeated later in the story. The cut-off word is what happen to The Comedian's "gored" face.
- During the Police Strike riots in Daniel Dreiberg's flashback (2:17:6), a newspaper headline reads, "Cops Say 'Let Them Do It' Senator Keene Proposes Emergency Bill."
- The phrase "Who Watches the Watchmen?" is seen spray-painted by rioters during the Police Strike in Dreiberg's flashback.
- The drug Laetril used by Jacobi is a real-world drug, marketed as a cancer cure but ultimately found to be fraudulent as explained by Rorschach.
- When Rorschach walked pass the peep show, the theatre showcase a sign reading "Enola Gay and the Little Boys." This is a reference to the first atomic bomb used in World War II and the plane that dropped it. This ties in with Ozymandias' theories in issue #10 about increased warlike imagery in times of international tension.
- Rorschach's Pagliacci story is the Italian opera of the same name by Ruggero Leoncavallo. The story related in the journal entry was originally told about English comedian Joseph Grimaldi who is known as the King of the Clowns.