"The Darkness of Mere Being": Dr. Manhattan and Laurie have just teleported to Mars. The latter almost forgot that there is no oxygen on the planet for Laurie to breathe and uses his powers to keep her breathing. After Laurie lashes at Manhattan for his slip-up, Manhattan escorts her to his crys

Quote1.png We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another's vantage point, as if new, it may still take the breath away. Quote2.png
Doctor Manhattan

Watchmen #9 is an issue of the series Watchmen (Volume 1) with a cover date of May, 1987.

Synopsis for "The Darkness of Mere Being"

Dr. Manhattan and Laurie have just teleported to Mars. The latter almost forgot that there is no oxygen on the planet for Laurie to breathe and uses his powers to keep her breathing. After Laurie lashes at Manhattan for his slip-up, Manhattan escorts her to his crystal construct.

Dr. Manhattan's perception of time and predestination begin to frustrate Laurie as he seems to already know what the entire conversation will be about. He tries to explain to her the nuance of time by asking her about her earliest memory.

Laurie recounts her time when she was five years old and overheard her mother and stepfather Lawrence Schexnayder arguing over one of Sally's affairs. The young Laurie wanders into the living room where she picks up and play with a snow globe until she was caught by Lawrence, causing her to drop and break the snow globe. Lawrence yells at Laurie and sends her back to bed. Since then, Laurie saw Schexnayder a domineering bully who picks on her because she is not his child. Laurie was certain that her real father was Hooded Justice.

Laurie pleads to Manhattan to end their conversation and return to Earth and help save humanity from nuclear destruction. But Manhattan is indifferent to humanity's plight and states that the end of the world will mean the end of human suffering. He then takes his construct to fly above the Martian surface.

Manhattan and Laurie's conversation brings up another memory in Laurie's life. In 1962, thirteen-year old Laurie was involved in a reunion party of the Minutemen at Sally's home. She witnesses Byron Lewis, the former Mothman, having a mental breakdown. The sight of the broken man caused Laurie to question her mother if that is what she has to look forward to when she becomes a costumed hero.

Laurie continues to try to change Manhattan's mind by talking about the importance of life. This leads to the third memory of the Crimebusters' meeting at Nelson Gardner's mansion where The Comedian points out the futility of such an organization. Laurie has a flirtatious encounter with Blake, who comments her that she looks much like her mother and asking if Sally talks about him. The encounter quickly ended when a furious Sally pulls her daughter away and forbids from ever speaking to Blake. The Comedian tries to make peace with Sally and wanted only to talk with "his old friend's daughter" to no avail. Laurie noted that the Comedian looked sad as he watched them drive away, and she felt sorry for him.

After Laurie finishes her story about Blake, she tries again to make Manhattan value people. But Manhattan still doesn't care as human life is brief and mundane. Manhattan momentarily foresees that he will return to Earth in the future, where there are streets full of corpses and that he kills someone, but the details remains vague as Manhattan describe that there is some kind of static preventing him from making a clear impression which he hypothesizes that it might be caused by the EMP of mass detonation of nuclear warheads; meaning that nuclear war is inevitable and Manhattan would be too late to stop it.

Deeply troubled by this revelation, Laurie again tries to convince Manhattan while recalling of her second encounter with Edward Blake in a banquet in 1973, where Blake was being honored with Gerald R. Ford and G. Gordon Liddy in attendance. By this time Laurie had learned of Blake's sexual assault on her mother. Deeply drunk, Laurie angrily confronted Blake and brought this past up to him before throwing her drink into his face. Afterwards Manhattan was angry of what she did and teleported her home for the first time.

Laurie is finally fed up that there is no point convincing Manhattan to change his mind on humanity. But Manhattan explains that he understands his scientific approach doesn't help him to understand human existence, however, it is Laurie's emotions that are blinding her to see his viewpoint. Laurie is avoiding something. Laurie then comes to the shocking realization that The Comedian is her real father. In a fit of rage, Laurie throws a perfume bottle which shatters Manhattan's crystal palace.

As the construct falls around them, Manhattan erects a shield to protect himself and Laurie from the debris. Laurie rages that Blake and Sally had pulled a "gag" on her and thus making her to believe that her life is a meaningless joke. But Manhattan surprisingly tells her that he disagrees. He rationalizes that if Laurie can be the product of such an outrageous set of chaotic and improbable circumstances (Sally loving the man she has every reason to hate), then her existence is, as he describes, a "thermodynamic miracle." And if her birth was a "miracle" then so could be any other birth in the world. He points out that since the world is so full of people, that miracles would become commonplace, and its vast improbability would become easy to forget.

Manhattan is convinced that life does matter and he tells Laurie they will go back to Earth.

Appearing in "The Darkness of Mere Being"

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Synopsis for "Daily World"

Appearing in "Daily World"

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  • The title of this issue is taken from a passage from Carl Jung's book Memories, Dreams, Reflections. A passage from the books appears at the end of the issue: "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."
  • On page 8, panel 4, when Laurie relates her earliest memory to Manhattan, a splash of water from the broken snow globe marks the eye of one of five-year-old Laurie's teddy bear slippers.
  • On page 21, panel 4, as Laurie throws her Scotch into the Comedian's face, a drop of it falls onto or in front of the smiley face badge's left eye.
  • On page 27, the shattering of Dr. Manhattan's fortress occurring next to a boulder that forms the right eye of the "happy face" Galle crater on the Argyre Planitia of Mars is reminiscent of the blood-spatter smiley face.


  • "Chaotic terrain," as explain by Manhattan (9:14:1), is an astrogeological term for a planetary surface with jumbled features.
  • Doctor Manhattan was referred as "goddamn Mr. Spock there" by one of the minor characters at the cocktail party. Alan Moore had wanted Manhattan to avoid creating an emotionless character like Spock from Star Trek.
  • In the 1973 banquet, Manhattan is talking with Henry Kissinger, who became the 56th Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon. Edward Blake and G. Gordon Liddy are talking about Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who in real-life wrote the story of the Watergate break-in that eventually led to Richard Nixon's resignation. Judging by their words, Woodward and Bernstein were murdered and therefore Nixon was prevented from being impeach in the world of Watchmen. Blake's offhand remark of not to ask where he was when John F. Kennedy was assassinated implies that The Comedian was involved, in which this is further discussed by Ozymandias in issue #11.
  • The 1973 banquet is where the photograph of Blake and Gerald Ford seen in issue #1 was taken (9:20:2).

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