Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII



Non-Comic Information

World of the Watchmen



Chapter 5: "Fearful Symmetry"

Certain notes are true for each issue.

This issue's title is from William Blake's poem "The Tyger."

Cover: Reflection of the "The Rumrunner" neon sign outside Moloch's window. The "RR" symbol and the bones give us a skull-and-crossbones, and the RR is a mirror image. The "Forecast: Cloudy, heavy rain later" line on the paper is symbolic foreshadowing. Rorschach is reflected at the very top.

ISSUE MOTIF: Skull-and-crossbones, and mirror images in general
COVER CLOCK: 7 min. to midnight

A note on the layout of this issue: The entire issue's story pages are a mirror image. Page 1 reflects page 28, page 2 reflects page 27, and so forth; the two-page spread on pages 14-15 is where the "mirror" lies. Each page is a reflection both of layout and content.

Page 1, panel 1: The sign reflected again. That's a copy of the Gazette with the "Russians Invade Afghanistan" headline, and a Gunga Diner takeout box.

Panel 9: The speaker is Moloch.

Page 3, panel 4: Note the broken Gordian Knot lock. It must be freshly broken; Moloch wouldn't have been able to close it if it were like that.

Panel 6: Checking the refrigerator, remembering issue #2.

Panel 9: Rorschach signs all his notes with the "blot" symbol. He doesn't write very well, as shown later; it's possible, though, that he used the capital "H" because it has horizontal symmetry.

Page 5, panel 5: Rorschach is correct in this assumption; the list in question was the cancer list. More later.

Panel 6: Rorschach either believes in checking every possible lead, no matter how remote, or is a raving paranoid. The likelihood that Moloch could be behind all this is somewhat farfetched.

Page 6, panel 5: The Chrysler Building is visible in the background.

Panel 6: We see the island later. (It all ties together.)

Since this is Monday, Rorschach must have great endurance to hold on so long. He's probably used to it, though.

Panel 7: The puddle again.

Page 7, panel 1: The triangle symbol, with an Eastern connection. The smear of blood across the face repats the smiley-face from issue #1.

Panel 3: The lamp in the upper right repeats the very minor theme of a zig-zag pattern on a sphere. Officer Capaldi is the woman on the left of the panel.

Panel 6: Note the skull-and-crossbones in the "Grateful Dead" poster. (The other posters read, "Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life" and "No Nukes.")

Page 8, panel 1: The truck is, again, from Pyramid Deliveries, and gives us the triangle again. (A triangle also has mirror symmetry.)

Panel 8: The early arrival of next month's comics explains how the kid has the new Black Freighter already. Tuesday is a a somewhat unusual day for a comics shipment to arrive, at least in our world.

Page 10, panel 1: The Gunga Diner interior. The speaker is Laurie. Most of this page is seen in a mirror.

Panel 4: The Diner is across from the Utopia. (The people walking on the street have been shown in passing before; the woman with the girl was seen in issue #1, page 4, panel 5.) They're now showing "Things to Come" (reflecting the theme of change). The "Y"-shaped symbols contain traingles and have a mirror- symmetry themselves.

At this distance, Dan should probably be visible in the mirror.

Page 11, panel 1: The hands on this page belong to Rorschach. Notice the symmetrical stain pattern on the plate, and the Heinz bean can. Rorschach wears his watch on his right wrist, a clue to his identity.

Panel 3: The pile of New Frontiersman under the bed are another hint to Rorschach's real identity.

Panel 4: We see his mother in the next issue.

Panel 5: Another mirror-image; the "Hiroshima lovers" are a theme for the rest of the series. "Who Watches the Watchmen" graffiti in the background.

Panel 6: Once again, Rorschach is either investigating all leads or is behaving like a paranoid loon. Laurie is more plausible than Moloch, but not by much.

Panels 7-9: Rorschach is creating a Rorschach blot with the napkin; its shape is an upside-down question mark, perhaps referring to his inspiration, the Question. The gang sprays another "Hiroshima Lovers" image on the wall. The man in panel 8 may be dropping the message Rorschach picks up on panel 18; he faintly resembles the courier from issue #10, but is too far to really tell.

Page 12, panel 1: "Afghanistan: Is Pakistan Next?" The radiation symbol is still on the wall. This page is the first to alternate real and Black Freighter panels. Panel 5: Note the "...don't people see the signs? Don't they know where this is headed?" viz. the sign-man in the background.

Panel 7: The Chrysler Building is vaguely visible behind the Promethean.

Panel 8: Another mirror image, and streak across eye (related to the issue #1 smiley face).

Panel 9: Notice the "The End is Nigh" man going through the trash. >From this we can postulate the layout of this corner, Fortieth and Seventh:

 Gunga|   | Promethean

 Diner|   | Cab Co.

-------   ---------------   /|\


          Newsstand          | N

-------   ---------------    |

Utopia|   | Institute for

      |   | Extraspatial

      |   | Studies
Mark James Schryver writes in that 40th and 7th is the location of the flagship store of Midtown Comics.

Page 13, panel 1: The shiny desk and floor provide another mirror. The hands belong, of course, to Adrian; the woman is his secretary. The "V" has mirror symmetry, and the link on the desk forms an "X" (what this may signify I don't know).

Those are very interesting symbols on Veidt's computer terminal. Some of them make sense (an =, a :, a 0) but others are incomprehensible. Does he use some bizarre sort of code on his personal terminal?

Panel 3: Is Veidt foreshadowing the end of this issue? Does he know too much?

Pages 14-15: This split-page panel is unique in the series. The pool is another mirror surface.

Page 17, panel 4: The Gazette headline reads, "Industrialist in Murder." Notice the sign man in the background. The person by the corner might be Joey.

Panel 8: And the sign man is in the trash again; we learn the significance of this later. Ironic line from the newsvendor.

Page 18, panel 1: The same graffiti we saw on page 11. The hands in the panel (mirror image) appear on 2/3 of the panels on the page. If alert, you can work out the identity of Rorschach here.

>From the slant, the writing could be by someone left-handed. Moloch is left-handed; look at the way he holds the gun in the beginning of this issue. If this is a fake, it's a good one.

Panel 4: Another Pale Horse poster on the left, above a torn Ozymandias Famine Relief poster; on the right, more "Who Watches the Watchmen?"

Panel 5: A Nostalgia ad.

Panel 6: Compare Rorschach's pulling on the glove with the woman's pulling on her stocking. Is Rorschach being ironic when he says, "My spotless gloves," or is he overlooking their condition?

Panel 8: Note the similarity of mugger and victim's silhouette to the graffiti.

Page 19: Another mirror.

Panel 6: On the table is Under the Hood. The old heroes have been on Dan's mind lately.

Page 21, panel 2: Joey, last seen in issue #3.

Panel 3: Hustler is a real-world "men's" magazine, noted for being more hardcore and pornographic than Playboy or Penthouse.

Panel 8: Another triangle image (compare with Pyramid Deliveries) and the militant feminist symbol. The poster read, "Pink Triangle LIVE at the Gay Women Against Rape Benefit Concert."

"Pink Triangle" is actually an odd name for a lesbian band. The symbol comes from Nazi Germany, where gay men were made to wear pink triangles. Lesbians and other "undesirables" wore black triangles. The usage of the pink triangle as a symbol for all homosexuals is seen by some as sexist, and some militant lesbians prefer to use the black triangle. Since the point-up orientation of the symbol can indicate greater militancy than the more common point-down, one is left with the impression that Moore and Gibbons were trying to fit the poster into their motifs.

Also note that the term is "gay women," not "lesbians." We learn later that "gay woman" has become the accepted term.

Panel 9: The ad on the back of the Hustler reads, "For Smokers With Balls" and is for the ball-pipes. (The copy is sort of ironic. We've seen the holders used by people in Happy Harry's, a man in New York in issue #4, page 4, and a minor character in this issue on page 13, but Janey and Laurie use them too, as well as the man embracing the other man in issue 1. Surely not *all* these people are in Hustler's target audience.)

Page 22, panel 3: Notice the "Gunga Diner" balloon out the window. If that's the same one, the station must be close to the action of the series.

Panel 4: The shot of the Dead poster here gives us half of the album's title. The full title is "Aoxomoxoa," a palindrome. Gibbons claims to have chosen this by pure chance, but it stil fits the motif.

Panel 6: The case number on the Blake file has a palindromic number, and all the numbers in it have vertical and horizontal mirror symmetry.

Panel 7: He means "Rorschach," of course.

Panel 9: The skull-and-crossbones on the poster again.

Page 23, panels 1-3: A return to page 1.

Panel 4: New graffiti on the wall by the Rumrunner.

Panel 6: The broken Gordian Knot lock; comparison with page 3, panel 4 shows that Rorschach has broken it again. (The damage is different, and the second lock has "X"s on it framing the keyhole.)

Page 24, panel 3: Underboss was a major mob crimelord; Rorschach and Nite Owl eventually apprehended him.

Page 25, panels 3-6: Rorschach is gathering makeshift weapons here. The aerosol can reads "Veidt For Men Hair Spray."

Page 26, panel 3: "Here be tygers" refers both to the quote giving us the story title, and the practice of filling in unknown areas on old maps with "Here be dragons." It may be NYPD slang for the unknown and dangerous.

Page 28, panels 1, 5: The "Rumrunner" logo is similar to that of the real-life Ramrod club, placing the apartment on West Street off Christopher. The cop's "goddamned queer" line also points to that area, and is similar to Comedian's line from issue #2, page 7, panel 6.

Panel 9: Once again the puddle.

Pages 29-32: "A Man on Fifteen Dead Men's Chests," Chapter 5 of the Treasure Island Treasury of Comics. An overview of the history of DC's Tales of the Black Freighter. EC and DC are/were both real publishers. Joe Orlando is a real person; he's a VP at DC now. In the real world, comics centered on superheroes, which declined in the '50's: the horror comics of that period brought about public disapproval. In this world there were few superhero comics: there was no witchhunt and EC remained strong. (Ironically, though, the superheroes helped the survival of the form; see page 59, paragraph 1.) Marvel never made it (since, in the real world, their growth can be traced to Fantastic Four #1).

The title refers to the classic pirate song "Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest."

Page 61, paragraph 4: "Marooned" is the story Bernie is reading.

Page 62, panel 2: Another reference to Max Shea's disappearance (first mentioned in issue #3).

By the way, if anyone is interested in reading a collaboration between Alan Moore and Joe Orlando, look for Secret Origins #10, the secret origin of the Phantom Stranger.

Watchmen is a trademark of DC Comics Inc., © 1999. These annotations © 1995 by Doug Atkinson. They may be freely copied and distributed, provided the text is not altered.
The annotations are maintained at this location by R.J. White.