To discuss Eddie Blake is to take the best and the worst of the 20th Century and stuff it into one man. No wonder he sees life as a joke, where the only punch line is there isn’t any punch line. With all this talk of comic books and comedy, you might think Blake is based on the Joker, but in fact he has more in common with the Charlton hero Peacemaker.
Still, when Nite Owl (Dreiberg edition) asks the Comedian what happened to the American Dream, his answer is even more telling: “It came true. You’re looking at it. Now c’mon. Let’s really put these jokers through some changes” (II.18.7). By this point in his life (circa 1976), all Blake’s dreams have come true. But instead of a moral compass, all he’s got is a smiley-face pin and a long list of women who he’s hurt really, really badly. He attempts to rape Sally Jupiter, shoots his pregnant, Vietnamese girlfriend to death, and more. With heroes like this, who needs villains? How does he end up like this?
In 1940, at age 20, Blake is all ego and aggression. After the Minutemen photo shoot, right before he sexually assaults Sally Jupiter, he asks the gang, “Why don’t Uncle Sammy get us into Europe, where the action is?” (II.5.3). Be careful what you wish for, Eddie. Talking about bloodlust is fine and dandy, but once you have to back up your words, well, that’s when you have to pay for it.
Less than ten years later, Hollis Mason observes that “on the strength of his military work [the Comedian] had good government connections, and it often seemed as if he was being groomed into some sort of patriotic symbol” (Chapter C.11). Just like the Uncle Sammy of yesteryear, the Comedian is on his way to becoming a new symbol of American might makes right. For more on patriotism, check out the “Themes” section.
Yes, the Comedian considers himself the ultimate patriot, but should the reader? Maybe Alan Moore is doing a disservice to the real men and women who sacrifice their lives for our country, or by extension, any country. Or is Moore right to call out those who send teenagers into harm’s way? On the other side of the coin from the passionate Blake we have the zombie-like Dr. Manhattan, the only other hero who works directly for the U.S. Government. By the time they cross paths in Vietnam, Blake is farther gone than Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. The big blue guy finds Blake “interesting. I have never met anyone so deliberately amoral. He suits the climate here: the madness, the pointless butchery” (IV.19.4-5). After that, there’s only one thing left to say about the Comedian. Here you go, Eddie, this one’s for you: ☺