Study Guide

Watchmen Chapter III

By Alan Moore

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Chapter III

The Judge of All the Earth

  • As if all this wasn’t overwhelming enough, it’s time for a curveball.
  • Chapter III opens with an excerpt from another comic, Tales from the Black Freighter (text in tan). Scenes from T.B.F. are spliced with a new Odd Couple: an old, white newsstand man and the young, black teen who’s reading the T.B.F. issue in question.
  • The Nova Express newspaper is late to arrive, and the redheaded doomsayer (who the heck is this person?) strolls up to buy a copy of the New Frontiersman.
  • We head back to the world of T.B.F. where a sailor has been marooned, surrounded by the corpses of his fellow crewmen.
  • Cut to Jon (Dr. Manhattan) and Laurie Jupiter fooling around in bed. Laurie’s enjoying herself until she comes to realize there are two Dr. Manhattans in bed with her, and another performing lab experiments down the hall.
  • Laurie can’t take being with him anymore and walks out on him right before his televised interview.
  • Meanwhile, the embittered Janey Slater grants an interview to the Nova Express about Jon dumping her for Laurie Jupiter, who was then only sixteen years old!
  • Now afflicted with cancer, Slater smokes a cigarette as she blames the radioactive Jon for causing her illness. She hopes that Jon’s upcoming interview on TV will ruin him.
  • Lost and just about friendless, Laurie pays Dan Dreiberg a visit. Sound like a rebound? Well, maybe it is.
  • Dreiberg tries to defend Jon, whose mind is on another plane (as in universe, not Boeing) and Laurie agrees to walk with Dan over to his Saturday night beer session with Hollis Mason.
  • Over in TV land, we learn that Jon’s real last name is Osterman, and that he used to be a scientist. Just as the TV show is about to begin, a gang of “knot-tops” attempts to mug Dan and Laurie in an alley. Bad idea.
  • In the TV studio, Dr. Jonathan Osterman grants his first live Q & A.
  • Doug Roth, a reporter for Nova Express, sucker punches him, metaphorically speaking. He accuses Jon of spreading terminal cancer to everyone who ever spent major time with him: Wally Weaver, Moloch, Janey Slater. The show ends abruptly on a sour note.
  • Dan and Laurie, out of breath from whomping on the bad guys, part ways.
  • Dan greets Hollis, who fills him in on the just-breaking Dr. Manhattan scandal.
  • Cut to the newsstand, with the Odd Couple: the older half comments on the Dr. Manhattan situation, and the younger half reads some T.B.F.
  • Dr. Osterman returns home to the nuke facility, where a grunt is painting hazard signs on his door. The big blue guy is in turmoil, having hurt the ones he loved most. C’est la vie, non?
  • He needs to think things through, so he teleports to Arizona to grab an old photo of Janey Slater with this normal looking dude, and then he heads to Mars.
  • More excerpts of T.B.F. bring us back down to Earth. A new day has dawned. In T.B.F. the marooned sailor buries his friends.
  • Laurie Jupiter returns “home” to the nuke facility to learn that Dr. Manhattan has vacated the premises. A government agent blames Laurie for costing them Jon, America’s not-so-secret weapon.
  • Rorschach wakes up Dreiberg with the day’s headlines.
  • With the Comedian gone and Dr. Manhattan in exile, Rorschach’s theory of masked hero assassination doesn’t look so crazy.
  • Cut to the newsstand, where the Odd Couple talks about comics and the fact that without Dr. Manhattan, the Russians have just invaded Afghanistan.
  • Then we’re jerked away to a Washington D.C. war room, where the President and his staff run through nuclear holocaust scenarios. Let’s just say, things look bleak without the big blue Doc.
  • Phew, do you have whiplash yet from all the scene shifts? If so, you’re not alone.
  • Chapter Postscript: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? –Genesis chapter 18, verse 25

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