Cover Rank: 4/10. The image above is NOT the standard cover but rather the variant that I’ll touch upon in a moment, which is not the way I generally go with my reviews. However, the standard’s image of the bottle of Victory gin shattering into a thousand pieces against the wall just doesn’t seem like a worthy cover shot to me. Where the previous two issues have had ambiguous pictures to pore over in an attempt to wrangle the true meaning from them, this one’s message is a pretty straightforward depiction of the bottle the Comedian launched at his assailant in Watchmen #1, so straightforward that it’s literally the first panel of the issue which, to me, robs it of the impact I’ve come to expect.
Best Variant Issue: 7/10. The variant on the other hand, while being far from perfect, gives me a little bit more to dig into. Obviously the first take away from it is Batman has in his possession the infamous journal of the original Rorschach. It’s the pivotal time that caused Adrian Veidt’s grand conspiracy to unravel when released to the public of his earth. The more subtle aspect of it however brings to mind Robin’s promotion to partner status with Batman. The lone candle upon the table in a more secluded part of the cave seems to me to be a direct homage to that key moment, which had me guessing as to just how exactly the pairing of the two was going to play out.
What I Like: There’s not a lot of big moments in this issue but rather several little nuggets that I thoroughly enjoyed, the primary being that they did in fact answer one of my big questions coming out of issue 2: Alfred did in fact have time to make more pancakes. As that may not have been a burning question to everybody else, I’ll leave it at that and move on to the other highlights. We started with the flashback to the Comedians “death” which then led directly to his rematch with Veidt where he got his retribution, pummeling Ozymandias and tossing HIM out a window this time, coming full circle.
We also got a bit of back and forth between Batman and the neurotic Rorschach, as while questioning the psyche of Bruce, Rorschach attempts to gain his aid. Rorschach’s obvious impatience as he questions how far Bruce is through examining the journal was a nice touch. We also got to see him take off the shifting mask but are still in the dark as to his identity outside of a brief flash of him in riding in a car when Veidt’s monster decimated Timed Square. Which begs the question, how did he survive the psionic backlash of it. It all comes to a head as Batman claims to know the location of the elusive Dr. Manhattan leading them both into the bowels of Arkham Asylum.
Throughout the course of the issue, it keeps cutting back to an elderly man suffering from Alzheimer’s they name Mr. Thunder. Now at first glance, new readers may focus on the news reports on the television in the room, as it touches on some rather important plot points for the series such as the condition of Lex Luthor and the overarching “Superman Theory” conspiracy. While both of which I’m sure are going to be crucial to the narrative, especially the latter, Thunder is what I’m most concerned with at this point. After popping up in Rebirth #1 and a few times since, I’m really curious as to what his part is going to be in reintroducing the Justice Society of America. He is Johnny Thunder, one of the founding figures of the DCU’s original team the JSA which was the Golden Age’s Justice League. They have been a cornerstone of the universe pretty much ever since, but outside of Jay Garrick (the Flash) making a brief appearance during “The Button” crossover who got free from wherever he had been trapped only to be pulled right back by Manhattan , they have not been seen in the Rebirth era. If you go back even further, they haven’t been a part of the main continuity since Dr. Manhattan played god with the onset of “The New 52”. There’s got to be a reason behind this.
(From The Flash #22)
What I Didn’t Like: At this time, my biggest issue with this particular chapter is the way they have managed to resurrect the Comedian. As depicted in the opening segment, Dr. Manhattan pulls him from the Watchmen universe as he’s plunging from his apartment window to the street below, which is the key moment that kicked off the entire Watchmen series. Unless Manhattan is going to return him to the same time, in the same circumstances, nothing would have happened that has led us to this point. Rorschach wouldn’t have ever been investigating his death that led to the unraveling the conspiracy, that led to Veidt coming after Manhattan. Time travel stories always have these paradoxes, but involving such a beloved series as Watchmen makes it that much more important that the threads get properly tied off. But who knows, maybe Geoff Johns and Gary Frank have it all figured out… only time will tell.
Speaking of time, as this issue was released we were informed that series was changing shipping schedules. Rather than a monthly release it will now be bi-monthly. I get that things happen, and problems arise, but given that this has been in the works for two years I’m concerned by the shift and what the reasons behind it were. I’ve heard a few different answers but who knows.
Best Moment: This was a fairly easy call, as the Mime and Marionette literally shine each time they have graced the page. In this particular issue they’re wandering through the seedier side of Gotham and happen upon a bar. From the patrons response to their ignorance of the Joker to the fight that ensues, this is by far my favorite scene. The “invisible/mind” weapons bring up a number of questions I’m extremely curious about, but it puts the scene in issue #1 where Mime was picking up his “gear” in a whole different light. I want to make special note of Gary Frank’s art which has been phenomenal throughout this series. I truly think this scene in particular he really nailed his portrayal of these two, both in their facial expressions and the “movement” of the characters themselves really stood out to me.
Ending: 7/10 Displaying the cold, analytical mind for which Batman is known, upon reading Kovacs disjointed account from his journal, he comes to the obvious conclusion that Rorschach is insane. Claiming Dr. Manhattan is inside a deep cell in Arkham, Batman ushers Rorschach in, sealing him inside. So much for my speculation on the alternate cover. This makes a nice parallel to when Rorschach was apprehended in the original run and I’m curious as to what comes next. He’s not going to be trapped there forever, so the how and why of his escape is definitely something I’ll be pondering in the coming months.
What I’m Looking Forward To: Answers. The subtle hints, allusions, and nods throughout the course of the first three issues have prompted me with more questions than I have the room to list, and thus far answers have been in short supply and when they’re given it just leads to more questions. Despite my initial disappointment with the progress made here in #3, as I began organizing my thoughts for this review, I came to appreciate it more and more. But, to avoid that cop out I will say that I can’t wait to see the Joker introduce himself to the duo with the same sense of fashion Mime and Marionette. That’s probably the combination I’m most intrigued to explore at this point. Plus at the rate we’re going with this slow burn, it’s probably the one will see come to fruition relatively soon. But this series has surprised me before so who knows.
Overall Score: 7/10
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