Of the eight main characters in Watchmen, Laurie Juspeczyk is the only one without her own chapter, you know, one of the mini-ones. She is the youngest superhero, too. Does that mean she deserves the short end of the stick, even though she’s the female lead? Not at all. Since Watchmen tells the story of two generations of American heroes, the old folks have the past, but the present and future belong to Laurie. Just don’t tell that to Dr. Manhattan, who doesn’t believe in separating time, no matter what.
Overall, Laurie makes an appearance in nine out of the book’s twelve chapters, and she holds her own every step of the way. Not that her biography is especially complicated. Ages 0-15, she trains to become the next Silk Spectre or else face her momma’s wrath. Have you ever felt the pressure to follow in your parents’ footsteps? That’s no fun for anyone. From 16-35, she lives with Dr. Manhattan in the Rockefeller Nuclear Research Facility in Washington D.C., where she fights crime as Silk Spectre until the passage of the Keene Act makes it illegal.
Besides ending the book with blonde hair and a name change (she switches it up to Sandra Hollis, after “perishing” in Veidt’s NYC attack), Laurie goes through a serious amount of personal growth. She starts off as a petulant child—acting out, smoking in front of her mother, rolling off snarky one-liners like “Oh, right. Just like that” (II.2.3). Contrast that to the embrace Laurie and her mom share during Christmas at the end. By now, Laurie’s been through so much and gained so much experience. She’s traveled to Mars, learned the true identity of her father, fallen in love with Dan Dreiberg, and seen millions of people dead on the streets of New York.
Somehow, that must be the formula for infinite wisdom, beyond even Adrian Veidt’s level, and he’s the smartest man in the world. Laurie hugs her mother, and says, “People’s lives take them strange places. They do strange things, and well, sometimes they can’t talk about them. I know how that is. I love you, mom. You never did anything wrong by me” (XII.29.6). This is incredibly powerful, even more so because it’s two women just talking to each other, which doesn’t happen in comics (or movies) as often as you’d think.
Also, Alan Moore’s worldview isn’t known for its tenderness, so that makes this scene even more unique. Combine that with the fact that in so many other comics, the female lead would never get this opportunity to contribute something other than eye candy.
Laurie turns out to be Moore’s biggest opportunity to tout his feminist credentials, which is important. It’s what makes graphic novels more adult-oriented than comic books (and no, we’re not talking that kind of adult). Laurie’s no puppet though, not even for the writer who invented her. She’s headstrong, freethinking, and independent. In other words, that’s Laurie Juspeczyk for you. She can do it all, and she does it on her own terms.