- Writer: Alan Moore. Illustrator/letterer: Dave Gibbons. Colorist: John Higgins.
- See also Watchmen (film)
- What in my life, does not deserve celebrating?
- My parents reached America the year I was born, 1939. Entering school, I was already exceptionally bright, my perfect scores on early test papers arousing such suspicion that I carefully achieved only average grades thereafter. What caused such precociousness? My parents were intellectually unremarkable, possessing no obvious genetic advantages. Perhaps I decided to be intelligent rather than otherwise? Perhaps we all make such decisions, though that seems a callous doctrine. By seventeen, my parents were both dead, and I faced a different decision. My inheritance offered life long idle luxury, and yet, needing nothing, I burned with the paradoxical urge to do everything. Do you understand? My intellect set me apart. Faced with difficult choices, I knew nobody whose advice might prove useful. Nobody living. The only human being with whom I felt any kinship died three hundred years before the birth of Christ. Alexander of Macedonia. I idolized him. A young army commander, he'd swept along the coasts of Turkey and Phoenicia, subduing Egypt before turning his armies towards Persia. He died, thirty-three, ruling most of the civilized world. Ruling without barbarism! At Alexandria, he instituted the ancient world's greatest seat of learning. True, people died ... perhaps unnecessarily, though who can judge such things? Yet how he nearly approached his vision of a united world! I was determined to measure my success against his. Firstly, I gave away my inheritance. to demonstrate the possibility of achieving anything starting from nothing. Next, I departed for Northern Turkey, to retrace my hero's steps. I wanted to match his accomplishment, bringing an age of illumination to a benighted world. Heh. I wanted to have something to say should we meet in the hall of legends. I followed the path of Alexander's war machine along the black sea coast, imagining his armies taking port after port, blood on ancient bronze. Perhaps because of the challenge it represented: the ancient world's greatest puzzle was there, a knot that couldn't be untied. Alexander cut it in two with his sword. Lateral thinking, you see. Centuries ahead of his time. Heading south, he entered Egypt through Memphis, where they proclaimed him son of Amon, judge of the dead, whose name means "hidden one." Under rule from Alexandria, the classic culture of the great Pharaohs was restored. I followed him through Babylon, up through Kabul to Samarkhand then down the Indus, where he met the first elephants of war. Where he'd turned back to quell dissent at home, I travelled on, through China and Tibet, gathering martial wisdom as I went. Alexander returned to Babylon to die of an infection, aged thirty-three, amongst its ruined ziggurats. I saw at last his failings. He'd not united all the world, nor built a unity that would survive him. Disillusioned, but determined, to complete my odyssey, I followed his corpse to its resting place in Alexandria. The night before returning to America, I wandered into the desert and ate a ball of hashish I'd been given in Tibet. The ensuing vision transformed me. Wading through powdered history, I heard dead kings walking underground, heard fanfares through human skulls. Alexander had merely resurrected an age of Pharaohs, their wisdom, truly immortal, now inspired me. What intellectual magnificence their system encouraged.. Ptolemy seeking the universe's pivot from his light-house at Pharos, Eratosthenes, measuring the world using only shadows … their greatest secrets entrusted to their servants, buried alive with them in sand-flooded chambers. Adopting Ramses the Second's Greek name and Alexander's free-booting style, I resolved to apply antiquity's teachings to today's world. Thus began my path to conquest … conquest not of men. But of evils that beset them. Today, that conquest becomes assured, in which your questioning assistance has proven invaluable. Do you comprehend the triumph which you have contributed, the secret glory that it affords? Do you understand my shame at so inadequate a reward?
- Soliloquy to all of his subordinates, as he watches them die from the poison he has provided them.
- I suppose I'd have had to catch the bullet, wouldn't I?
- Delivered with a smirk, after Nite Owl asks what he would have done if his hired assassin had shot him first.
- Do it? Dan, I'm not a Republic Serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago.
- I don't mind being the smartest man in the world, I just wish it wasn't this one.
Daniel Dreiberg/Nite Owl II
- Y'know, this must be how ordinary people feel. This must be how ordinary people feel around us.
- As he and Rorschach prepare for their confrontation with Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias
- Oh God, I probably sound so Devo right?
- What happened to us? What happened to the American Dream?
Edward Blake/The Comedian
- I mean, what's so funny? What's so goddamned funny?
- Yeah. Yeah, that's right. Pregnant woman. Gunned her down. Bang. And y'know what? You watched me. You coulda changed the gun into steam or the bullets into mercury or the bottle into god damn snowflakes! You coulda teleported either of us to goddamn Australia...but you didn't lift a finger! You don't really give a damn about human beings. I've watched you. You never cared about what's her name, Janey Slater, even before you ditched her. Soon you won't be interested in Sally Jupiter's little girl, either. You're driftin' outta touch, Doc. You're turnin' into a flake. God help us all.
- You people are a joke. You hear Moloch's back in town, you think "Oh, boy! Let's gang up and bust him!" You think that matters? You think that solves anything?
- It don't matter squat because inside thirty years the nukes are gonna be flyin' like maybugs...and then Ozzy here is gonna be the smartest man on the cinder. Now, pardon me, but I got an appointment. See you in the funny papers.
Jon Osterman/Doctor Manhattan
- A live body and a dead body contain the same number of particles. Structurally, there's no discernible difference. Life and death are unquantifiable abstracts. Why should I be concerned?
- They call me Dr. Manhattan. They explain the name has been chosen for the ominous associations it will raise in America's enemies. The marketing boys say I need a logo. If I'm to have a symbol it shall be one I respect. [draws a symbol of a hydrogen atom on his head]
- Everything is preordained. Even my responses.
- They claim their labors are to build a heaven, yet their heaven is populated with horrors. Perhaps the world is not made. Perhaps nothing is made. A clock without a craftsman. It's too late. Always has been, always will be...too late.
- I am two-hundred and twenty-seven million kilometers from the sun. Its light is already ten minutes old. It will not reach Pluto for another two hours. Two hours into my future, I observe meteorites from a glass balcony, thinking about my father. Twelve seconds, into my past, I open my fingers. The photograph is falling. I am watching the stars. Halley's Comet tumbles through the solar system on its great, seventy-six year ellipse. My father admired the sky for its precision. He repaired watches. It's 1945, I sit in a Brooklyn kitchen, fascinated by an arrangement of cogs on black velvet. I am sixteen years old. It is 1985. I am on Mars. I am fifty-six years old. The photograph lies at my feet; falls from my fingers, is in my hand. I am watching the stars, admiring their complex trajectories through space and time. I am trying to give a name to the force that set them in motion.
- There is no future. There is no past. Do you see? Time is simultaneous, an intricately structured jewel that humans insist on viewing one edge at a time, when the whole design is visible in every facet.
- We're all puppets, Laurie. I'm just a puppet who can see the strings.
- "Thermodynamic miracles... events with odds against so astronomical they're effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. I long to observe such a thing. And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive; meeting; siring this precise son; that exact daughter... Until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate, and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you, that emerged. To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold... that is the crowning unlikelihood. The thermodynamic miracle."
- Yes. Anybody in the world. .. But the world is so full of people, so crowded with these miracles that they become commonplace and we forget... I forget. We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from the another's vantage point, as if new, it may still take our breath away. Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg. Come, dry your eyes. And let's go home.
- I am disappointed, Veidt. Very disappointed. Restructuring myself after the subtraction of my intrinsic field was the first trick I learned. It didn't kill Osterman... Did you think it would kill me? I've walked across the surface of the sun. I've seen events so tiny and so fast they hardly can be said to have occurred at all. But you... you're just a man. And the world's smartest man poses no more threat to me than does its smartest termite.
- In my opinion, the existence of life is a highly overrated phenomenon.
Laurie Juspeczyk/Silk Spectre II
- "I want you to love me. I want you to love me because we're not dead. Here..take these off. I want to see you. I want to see you and taste you and smell you. Just because I can. Oh God, it's so damn good being alive.
- (Examining Dan's Nite Owl II utility belt.) What else have you got in there? Chocolate rations? Boy Scout knife? Army-issue contraceptives?
- I'm through thinking about my life, looking back at all my stupid memories. It's been a dumb life, and if there is a design, it's a dumb design!
- My mother, she eroded my adolescence, chipping me into the shape she'd have been if she hadn't had me. She pushed me into adventuring, fussing over my career, trying to live her life through me.
- I used to be a masked avenger too, remember … I mean, I'm used to going out at three in the morning and doing something stupid.
- This city is afraid of me...I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"... and I'll look down and whisper "No." They had a choice, all of them. They could have followed in the footsteps of good men like my father or President Truman. Decent men who believed in a day's work for a day's pay. Instead they followed the droppings of lechers and communists and didn't realize that the trail led over a precipice until it was too late. Don't tell me they didn't have a choice. Now the whole world stands on the brink, staring down into bloody Hell, all those liberals and intellectuals and smooth-talkers... and all of a sudden nobody can think of anything to say.
- Soon there will be war. Millions will burn. Millions will perish in sickness and misery. Why does one death matter against so many? Because there is good and there is evil, and evil must be punished. Even in the face of Armageddon I shall not compromise in this. But there are so many deserving of retribution ... and there is so little time.
- This city is dying of rabies. Is the best I can do to wipe random flecks of foam from its lips?
- Why are so few of us left active, healthy, and without personality disorders?
- So many questions. Never mind. Answers soon. Nothing is insoluble. Nothing is hopeless. Not while there's life. In the cemetery, all the white crosses stood in rows, neat chalk marks on a giant scoreboard. Paid last respects quietly, without fuss. Edward Morgan Blake. Born in 1924. Forty-five years a comedian. Died 1985, buried in the rain. Is that what happens to us? A life of conflict with no time for friends … so that when it's done, only our enemies leave roses. Violent lives, ending violently. Dollar Bill , The Silhouette, Captain Metropolis … we never die in bed. Not allowed. Something in our personalities, perhaps? Some animal urge to fight and struggle, making us what we are? Unimportant. We do what we have to do. Blake understood. Treated it like a joke, but he understood. He saw the cracks in society, saw the little men in masks trying to hold it together … he saw the true face of the twentieth century and chose to become a reflection of it, a parody of it. No one else saw the joke. That's why he was lonely.
- Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, "Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up." Man bursts into tears. Says "But Doctor... I am Pagliacci." Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.
- [Recollecting a guard dog he killed to which a murderer had been feeding the dismembered body of a kidnap victim] Shock of impact ran along my arm. Jet of warmth spattered on chest, like hot faucet. It was Kovacs who said "Mother" then, muffled under latex. It was Kovacs who closed his eyes. It was Rorschach who opened them again.
- Stood in firelight, sweltering. Bloodstain on chest like map of violent new continent. Felt cleansed. Felt dark planet turn under my feet and knew what cats know that makes them scream like babies in night. Looked at sky through smoke heavy with human fat and God was not there. The cold, suffocating dark goes on forever and we are alone. Live our lives, lacking anything better to do. Devise reason later. Born from oblivion; bear children, hell-bound as ourselves, go into oblivion. There is nothing else. Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose. This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It’s us. Only us. Streets stank of fire. The void breathed hard on my heart, turning its illusions to ice, shattering them. Was reborn then, free to scrawl own design on this morally blank world. Was Rorschach. Does that answer your questions, Doctor?
- Men get arrested. Dogs get put down.
- None of you understand. I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me.
Dr Malcolm Long
- "Later: The Deputy Warden just called. Apparently, Kovacs was involved in an incident today, just after he'd seen me. It happened during lunch, in the canteen...the guards intervened, dragging Kovacs away to solitary and the other man to the prison hospital. According to the deputy Warden, his burns were horrific. Hot cooking fat...I don't like to think about it. As they dragged him away, Rorschach spoke to the other inmates. He said 'None of you understand. I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me.' My earlier optimism was obviously unfounded. He's just getting worse."
- I looked at the Rorschach blot. I tried to pretend it looked like a spreading tree, shadows pooled beneath it, but it didn't. It looked more like a dead cat I once found, the fat, glistening grubs writhing blindly, squirming over each other, frantically tunneling away from the light. But even that is avoiding the real horror. The horror is this: In the end, it is simply a picture of empty meaningless blackness. We are alone. There is nothing else.
- Why do we argue? Life's so fragile, a successful virus clinging to a speck of mud, suspended in endless nothing.
- Police Detective: I think you take this vigilante stuff too seriously. Since the Keene Act was passed in '77 only the government-sponsored weirdos are active. They don't interfere.
- Detective Steve Fine: Screw them. What about Rorschach? Rorschach never retired, even after him and his buddies fell out of grace. Rorschach's still out there somewhere. He's crazier than a snake's armpit and wanted on two counts of Murder One. We got a cozy little homicide here. If he gets involved, we'll be up to our butts in corpses.
- [Rorschach informs the former Nite Owl II of the Comedian's death.]
- Dan Dreiberg: Maybe this was a political killing?
- Rorschach: Maybe. Or maybe someone's picking off costumed heroes.
- Dreiberg: Um. Don't you think that's maybe a little paranoid?
- Rorschach: That's what they're saying about me now? That I'm paranoid?
- Rorschach: Used to come here often, back when we were partners.
- Dreiberg: Oh. Uh, yeah... yeah, those were great times, Rorschach. Great times. Whatever happened to them?
- Rorschach: [exiting] You quit.
- [Dan and The Comedian, in the midst of a riot]
- Dan Dreiberg: But the country's disintegrating. What's happened to America? What's happened to the American dream?.
- The Comedian: [brandishing tear gas grenade launcher] It came true. You're lookin' at it. Now c'mon... let's really put these jokers through some changes.
- Edgar Jacobi: Heh. Well, you know that kind of cancer that you get better from eventually?
- Rorschach: Yes.
- Edgar Jacobi: Well, that ain't the kind of cancer I got.
- [Retired crimefighters reminisce about the good old days.]
- Laurie Juspeczyk: Hey, you remember that guy? The one who pretended to be a supervillain so he could get beaten up?
- Dan Dreiberg: Oh, You mean Captain Carnage. Ha ha ha! He was one for the books.
- Laurie: You're telling me! I remember, I caught him coming out of this jeweller's. I didn't know what his racket was. I start hitting him and I think "Jeez! He's breathing funny! Does he have asthma?"
- Dan: Ha Ha Ha. He tried that with me, only I'd heard about him, so I just walked away. He follows me down the street in broad daylight, right? He's saying "Punish me! Punish me!" I'm saying "No! Get lost!"
- Laurie: Ha Ha Ha. What ever happened to him?
- Dan: Well, he pulled it on Rorschach, and Rorschach dropped him down an elevator shaft.
- Laurie: [laughing] Oh, God, I'm sorry, that isn't funny,.
- Dan: Ha, ha, ha! No, I guess it's not... It's a little funny...
- Laurie:Uh-huh. Ahuhuhuh... Jeez, y'know, that felt good. There don't seem to be that many laughs around these days.
- Dan: Well, what do you expect? The Comedian is dead.
- Dr. Malcolm Long: Walter, is what happened to Kitty Genovese really proof that the whole of mankind is rotten? I think you've been conditioned with a negative worldview. There are good people, too, like...
- Rorschach: Like you?
- Dr. Malcolm Long: Me? Oh, well, I wouldn't say that. I...
- Rorschach: No. You just think it. Think you're 'good people'. Why are you spending so much time with me, Doctor?
- Dr. Malcolm Long: Uh...well, because I care about you, and because I want to make you well...
- Rorschach: Other people, down in cells. Behavior more extreme than mine. You don't spend any time with them...but then, they're not famous. Won't get your name in the journals. You don't want to make me well. Just want to know what makes me sick. You'll find out. Have patience, Doctor. You'll find out.
- [a riot occurs in the prison due to Rorschach's presence]
- Prison Inmate: We wanna piece, Big Figure!
- Big Figure: Sure. Thanks-giving's Early this year, but everyone gets a piece of turkey. It's just I get to carve. Now beat it.
- Larry: [reaching into the bars of Rorschach's cell] You lousy little bastard! I'll tear your goddamned heart out! You're dead, you unnerstand? Dead! We got a jail full of guys out here who hate your guts. What in hell do you got?
- Rorschach: [grabbing his arms] Your hands. My perspective.
- [Big Figure is forced to have Larry killed so he can get into the prison cell]]
- Big Figure: We're gonna cut through there and then that bastard's gonna find out what the Score is!
- Rorschach: One-nothing. Your move. Come and get me.
- Nite-Owl: Rorschach...? Rorschach, wait! Where are you going? This is too big to be hard-assed about! We have to compromise!
- Rorschach: No. Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise.
- Adrian Veidt: I did the right thing, didn't I? It all worked out in the end.
- Dr. Manhattan: 'In the end'? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.
- Dr. Manhattan: Thermodynamic miracles... events with odds against so astronomical they're effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. I long to observe such a thing. And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive; meeting; siring this precise son; that exact daughter... Until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate, and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you, that emerged. To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold... that is the crowning unlikelihood. The thermodynamic miracle.
- Laurie Juspeczyk: But... if me, my birth, if that's a thermodynamic miracle... I mean, you could say that about anybody in the world!
- Dr. Manhattan: Yes. Anybody in the world... But the world is so full of people, so crowded with these miracles that they become commonplace and we forget... I forget. 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 our breath away. Come... dry your eyes. For you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes... and let's go home.
- Laurie Juspeczyk: Is that what you are? The most powerful thing in the universe and you're just a puppet following a script?
- Doctor Manhattan: We're all puppets, Laurie. I'm just a puppet who can see the strings.
- Doctor Manhattan: You sound bitter. You're a strange man, Blake. You have strange attitudes to life and war.
- The Comedian: Strange? Listen... once you figure out what a joke everything is, being the Comedian's the only thing that makes sense.
- Doctor Manhattan: The charred villages, the boys with necklaces of human ears... these are part of the joke?
- The Comedian: Hey... I never said it was a good joke! I'm just playing along with the gag...
- Nite-Owl: Look, I just meant we took enough unnecessary risks retrieving your outfit this morning...
- Rorschach: Unnecessary? Cowering down here in sludge and pollution, conjuring names on screens, learning nothing: that is unnecessary. Give me smallest finger on man's hand. I'll produce information. Computer unnecessary. This face, all that's necessary... all I need.
- The publications here exist only in the fictional Watchmen universe unless otherwise noted.
- I never said, "The superman exists, and he's American." What I said was,"God exists, and he's American."
- Dr. Milton Glass, Dr. Manhattan: Super-Powers and the Superpowers
- No, I don't mind being the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one.
- Adrian Veidt, interview in Nova Express
- [Responding to question on how much of putting on a superhero costume is a "sex thing".] No, I don't… Well, let me say this, for me, it was never a sex thing. It was a money thing. And I think for some people it was a fame thing, and for a tiny few, God bless 'em, I think it was a goodness thing. I mean, I'm not saying it wasn't a sex thing for some people, but, no, no, I wouldn't say that's what motivated the majority…
- Sally Jupiter, interview in Probe.
- Alan Moore quotes