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Which Watchman Was the Worst?

by Matt Cates 6 years ago in art / comics / fact or fiction / feature / literature / movie / pop culture / product review / review / satire / superheroes
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They're all jerks, but who was the jerkiest?


The city may fear him, but Rorschach is a bigoted virgin who never bathes and eats cold beans from the can.

Cold bean eater Rorschach on patrol...

Nite Owl II is a potbellied fetishist with no apparent day job (apart from penning bird essays) and a pathetic nostalgia for the life of honor he chose to quit.

Nite Owl II, being weird...

Silk Spectre II is a bratty, husband-stealing chain smoker who’s never happy with what she’s got and generally looking out for herself first.

Silk Spectre II, an inappropriately dressed teen

What a trio of jerks! I love them, though, but objectively speaking? You know they’re seriously flawed citizens. No matter; I'm giving those three a free pass today...

To bore down to the Numero Uno Jerko from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ DC graphic novel, we gotta keep truckin’… So strap in, crank the 80’s jams—but do NOT touch any buttons on the control console! You’ll torch the whole city, bro!

Almost torching the whole city, via Archie's flame thrower

Our three main contenders for the title of King Jerk (Watchmen Edition) are:

The Comedian - Dr. Manhattan - Ozymandias

Take your pick.

Who’d you pick? No, don’t tell me. Just read on...

(Did anyone bring a notepad, case we need one? You didn’t? What are all those pouches on your utility belt even for?? Never mind; we’re going anyway…)

Comedian: Ignoring 'No Smoking' sign behind him...

Eddie Blake, the Comedian.

He’s my pick. I was going to tell you later, but eh... It’s all a joke anyhow.

Besides, have you read Watchmen? Look at the guy, he is clearly the winner of this contest. Total amoral pig, attempts to rape a fellow crime fighter, guns down his pregnant lady friend in Southeast Asia, more than likely assassinated JFK. He’s it, hands down; he’s the one. Case closed.

Right? Ahh, okay, make your argument. I’m listening…

Who said Dr. Manhattan? YOU, in the back!

Doc M, perturbed

“Doctor Manhattan could’ve stopped Comedian from murdering that pregnant Vietnamese woman, but chose not to. He could have turned the gun to steam or the bullets into mercury—”

Thank you, please sit back down. I’ve read the same book you have, so don’t use Comedian’s own words. Be original. What’s your personal thoughts on the matter? Anyone else? Yes, you in the Thanos shirt...

Doc M, not doing anything

“Doc M wasn’t a human being any longer; he was only pretending to be. Jon Osterman was dead. Manhattan was only going through the motions and losing the tenuous connections he had with every passing moment, as evidenced by the ever-diminishing amount of underwear he wore.”

Yes, good point. Luckily artist Dave Gibbons spared us the imagery of that blue butt in a thong, though skipping from black Speedo to bare ass was a little startling. In fact, what kind of jerk stalks around with his junk hanging out? Hmm. Okay, continue…

“So I don’t think Manhattan was a jerk, is what I'm saying. He was just dissociated from the strife of humanity and the human condition. People live and die and he saw no difference between the two states.”

So he said, but then why did he keep hauling Laurie around?

“She was his only connection. The last string binding him to our world.”

Doc M, dragging Laurie to Mars...

Then he did understand the difference between life and death. He didn’t allow Laurie to die when he brought her to Mars.

“Yes, she was the only person he loved. Love held him to her, but without love, he felt nothing towards anyone. Once he’d lost her, he left the galaxy…”

Seems rather selfish and a bit childish to me. In fact, I’m starting to think he WAS a huge jerk!

“Well I was trying to make the argument that Doctor Manhattan shouldn’t even be in the contest. He’s disqualified because he exists outside of our range of moral boundaries. Right and wrong are trivialities to a being like him.”

No they’re not! You don’t believe in the concepts of objective right or wrong?

“I don’t think there is a universal right or wrong which can be applied to everything, no. Right and wrong are based on our human opinions. They are subjective, not objective.”

I agree with you, actually. Just checking to see if we’re on the same playing field. There is subjective right or wrong, though. I say killing an innocent person is “wrong.” If, as a society, we agree with that sentiment, then we make laws based on it and it becomes illegal to murder an innocent person. But you’re claiming Manhattan isn’t part of society and so he is immune to our laws.

Doc M, chilling alone

“You’re putting words in my mouth, but you have extrapolated correctly enough. Anyways, I know what you’re going to say next.”

What, that his love for Laurie means he was part of society and therefore was subject to following its laws?


But I wasn’t going to say that! Ha HA!

“You just did—!”

No I didn’t. I only said what I thought you thought I was going to say next… Anyone got anything they want to add to this?

“Disagree with you about Comedian. No proof he tried to rape first Silk Spectre. Only rumor based on that book by Hollis Mason.”

Rorschach's mask

Rorschach?? Sorry, I…didn’t see you back there originally. Listen, about the virgin remark…

“Never apologize. Makes you look weak. Like your chin.”

Yes, well. So who would you pick? Adrian Veidt, I’m sure?

“Don’t assume. Don’t know me that well.”

True, but after what he did… Destroying New York with a giant engineered alien squid. Oh, but then again, it was Manhattan who obliterated you. Which sort of makes me wonder how you got here—? Unless you're a parody, in which case we can avoid any messy entanglements of copyright infringement...

“Unimportant. Here now. All that matters. Voting Silk Spectre II, in case you're wondering.”

Really, she's the biggest jerk? Wh-why? What did she do? It was Ozymandias that butchered New York City!

“Realize that. Manhattan could have stopped it, but too distracted by all that sex and perversion. Thanks to her.”

Laurie? But the government believed it was best to keep the big blue guy sexually sated. They didn’t want him blowing off steam in dangerous ways…

“Right. Better to blow it off in unproductive ways, instead of preventing nuclear holocaust."

What do you mean?

"Could have prevented nuclear proliferation. Every second wasted rutting that teenager, could’ve been destroying Soviet missile silos. You disagree?”

Well... Oookay, I’m sure we all respect your experience and opinion in this matter, Sir. Would anyone else like to contribute?

“I'd like to state my belief that Rorschach is the biggest jerk in the group, not Laurie Juspeczyk. I feel she should be excluded entirely from the conversation.”

“I second that. If we're conversing about 'jerks,' do remember that Rorschach's practically a Nazi, like the I’m already on record for saying.”

Doc M with Ozymandias

(Oh God, there’s more of them…also parodies, thankfully!) Alright, well welcome, Doctor Manhattan and Ozymandias! Weren’t expecting you…but that’s alright! Heh. So you both contend it is really Rorschach who deserves…this…


…this prestigious award?

“You mean the biggest jerk award, Matthew? Yes, it is indisputably him. I am, after all, the owner of a multi-billion dollar corporation employing thousands across the country and abroad. And in terms of New York, actions speak for themselves. The world united because of me, and Mutually Assured Destruction was averted. Of course there are still regional wars in our time, but these are not threats to the planet's very existence, are they? And by the way, on a slight tangent...has anyone noticed the foul stench in this room? Where do you think the origin of that odor traces back to?”

“Not all of us wealthy prostitutes like you, Veidt. Exploiting past, selling toys of selves.”

“Or perhaps you're jealous there's no market for toys of a disheveled thug in a zoot suit with a sock puppet for a face? And by the way, soap is fairly cheap.”

"Always your problem, Adrian. Condescension, smooth talk...anything to divert attention away from truth."

Guys, I think we maybe...

"Truth? And what would that be, Rorschach? Please, humor us with your stunted insights."

"Truth is you're masking insecurities by overcompensating. Real reason you cannot relate to anyone? Not because you're better or smarter. Because you're an assho—"

Ozy tutoring Rorschach with a backfist

"Gentleman, your bickering is futile andI have grown bored of it. Asteroids do not linger in the confines of their belt if they become too perturbed; instead they eject from that orbit in order to explore the cosmos unfettered. I have had my say. I've always had it. Now, like a liberated asteroid, I am departing. In fact, I've already left..."

Doc M peering away...

"Good idea. Tired of listening to nonsense. Think to do same..."

Exit: Rorschach

"Well, I believe Rorschach's departure has proven my point more eloquently than my own words. Even if it is only a parody of him, he's still a psychopath. But let us segue to a more pleasant conversational topic. Have you had a look at this Ozymandias action figure, available from"

Yes, it's very nice. Doesn't really look like you, Mr. Veidt.

"Ah! Of course, this one's based on the motion picture by Zack Synder. The actor who portrayed me was Matthew Goode. So the character does more closely resemble him than me."

Yes, I saw that movie. It was pretty faithful to the graphic novel...which I preferred over the film, to be honest. I've read it several times; in fact I never get tired of it.

"Well, ours is an emotionally-complex tale, and Mr. Moore and Mr. Gibbons did wonderful jobs capturing the essence of the story. My only criticism, which I'm sure you can sympathize with, is that they didn't delve enough into the sodden history of the man we just saw walk out. Rorschach views the world through a black and white lens. Every action he takes, he weighs first upon his own mental scales of justice, or rather his vigilante brand of it. If the scale tips 'black,' or 'evil' let's say, he resorts to violence. There's never any regard for the laws of society or even for the consequences of his actions, for that matter. He is like a force of nature, in some ways. Not thoughtless, but his thought patterns are not sophisticated. No, they're quite primitive, which is why he was so willing to inform the world of my own 'criminal' deeds."

But I think it is safe to say now, the world already knows what you did...and yet here you are, walking the streets instead of being behind bars.

"Yes, well, the parody version of Adrian Veidt is here. Don't forget; even my wealth couldn't staunch the vengeance of an upset Alan Moore! But you are correct; the world's tribunal has acquitted me of all wrongdoing. The only person left with a chip on his epauleted-shoulder is Rorschach...or his doppelgänger."

Mr. Veidt, I must say, you are very persuasive. And yet it is difficult to get that image out of my head, of the giant alien squid-thing...

Alien Squid monster

"Of course it is! I hired the most creative artists on Earth to design it! It was meant to leave an indelible impression. Otherwise it would not have staved off World War III."

Well. We didn't get to hear your take on Edward Blake, the Comedian. I am surprised you don't consider him a worse person than Rorschach..."

"Worse person? Oh, let's be absolutely clear on this, Matthew! Blake is by far a worse human being that Rorschach! There's no contest."

"But I thought..."

"You said biggest 'jerk.' Look, I'm a grammarian. Words are important, and so are definitions. A 'jerk' is a 'contemptibly foolish person,' and that, to me, out of the gang of us formerly costumed crusaders, is Rorschach above all others. The Comedian isn't a fool, despite his moniker. On the contrary. He may be an utter nihilist, but then who among our group isn't? But he's no fool and therefore not a jerk by the dictionary definition. Oh, incidentally you can purchase an action figure of him, as well. If you enjoy collecting toys of inhuman savages..."

It's pretty cool, too! Say, isn't that the guy on The Walking Dead TV show?

"I'm sure I wouldn't know about that. I don't watch a lot of television..."

Well, in any case, I'm glad we both agree. I guess great minds think alike, eh, Mister Smartest Man in the World?

"Yesss, I'm sure we have much in common, Matthew! Good luck with your writing, by the way. I'm afraid I must be going; I'm in the middle of a hostile takeover of Microsoft, and my private jet is waiting..."

Ozymandias being smug

Oh, yeah yeah, sure, man... I mean, Sir! (God, what a total freakin' jerk!)

A couple more items of interest for Watchmen fans (Alan Moore excepted!) DC decided to bring in some of their most talented writers and artists to craft these short-run series featuring the individual characters and their stories prior to the events in Watchmen...

There's more in this series but this one and the one featuring Comedian and Rorschach are the two best-selling!

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About the author

Matt Cates

Freelance writer and owner of Cates Content and Copywriting; retired Air Force Veteran; former administrative assistant at Oregon State University; author of Haveck: The First Transhuman, the greatest sci-fi novel in the multiverse.

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