Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / Before Watchmen

Go To
Nite Owl I, on the cover of Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1.

Before Watchmen is a 2012-13 comics miniseries set in the world of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen. The event was launched in celebration of Watchmen's 25th anniversary. Both Moore and Dave Gibbons insist that the prequels are not canonical.

Each of the miniseries involves some of the best talents in the comics industry to date. This event's purpose is to explore the backstory, characters and setting of Watchmen (comics continuity only), as any previous history not shown in the original series is in hard to find RPG's and supplementary materials.

The individual miniseries are:

  • Comedian, six issues by Brian Azzarello and J.G. Jones.
  • Dr. Manhattan, four issues, by J. Michael Straczynski and Adam Hughes.
  • Minutemen, six issues by Darwyn Cooke.
  • Nite Owl II, four issues by J. Michael Straczynski and Andy and Joe Kubert.
  • Advertisement:
  • Ozymandias, six issues by Len Wein and Jae Lee.
  • Rorschach, four issues by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo.
  • Silk Spectre II, four issues by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner.
  • Moloch, two issues by J. Michael Straczynski and Eduardo Risso.
  • Dollar Bill, one issue by Len Wein and Steve Rude.
  • Curse of the Crimson Corsair, two page backup in most Before Watchmen issues, by Len Wein & John Higgins.

Please note: trope folders are for the characters' miniseries, not the characters themselves. Of course a trope about Edward Blake can be placed in the Comedian folder, but only if that's the series where the trope in question is used. So for instance, tropes about anything Edward does in Ozymandias should be placed in the folder for the Ozymandias series.

Warning: Several spoilers from Watchmen will be unmarked.


Before Watchmen provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    General Before Watchmen Tropes 
  • Adaptation Expansion: Due to its nature exploring periods in the original merely glimpsed and not fully witnessed, many plot threads hinted at in Watchmen are brought out more fully for this series.
  • Adaptational Heroism: The Comedian.
  • Art Evolution: Each miniseries is in a different art style from each of the others, as well as from the detailed but utilitarian art of the original Watchmen.
  • Call-Back: Even the panel layouts for some pages recall the original comic, especially in the series that Darwyn Cooke writes.
  • Call-Forward: The reason (aesthetically) that this series exists.
  • Cosmetically Advanced Prequel: Two and a half decades of improvements in the art department will do that for you.
  • Depending on the Artist: Those art styles and ideas differ on some designs. Moloch looks like a regular person in Comedian, but in his series he Looks Like Orlok, and Silhouette has a redesign in Minutemen and Dollar Bill, but her single-panel appearance in Moloch has her design from Watchmen.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who's alive in Watchmen is obviously not going to die or get permanently injured, no matter what it might look like.
    • Likewise, you know that some of the Minutemen won't make it all the way through in their own comic.
  • Prequel: As the title would suggest.

    The Comedian 
  • Anti-Hero: Comedian #1 tries to nudge Eddie from a Type IV/V situation into a Type III.
  • False Flag Operation: The Comedian is sent by the FBI to bust Moloch for drug-running. It turns out to just be a distraction, so he is not in Dallas when Kennedy is shot.
  • Friendly Enemy: Eddie shares a moment with Moloch in issue #1, busting through his goons to face him, only to find Moloch crying over JFK's assassination. The two cease hostilities and stare in disbelief at the report, with Moloch giving Blake some liquor.
  • Mythology Gag: The character of Gordy is a dead ringer for the character of the same name in V for Vendetta. He even meets Eddie in a similar-looking bar/nightclub.
  • Pals with Jesus: Blake is shown to be loyal to the presidency (to the Kennedys in B.W. and Nixon in Watchmen proper) and even kills Marilyn Monroe on behalf of Jackie Kennedy. He's genuinely saddened when he hears that JFK was assassinated in Dallas, when he wasn't around.
  • Shout-Out: The brick that somebody throws at Edward in issue #3 is made by the Herriman Brick Co.
  • There Was a Door: In #6, Rorschach and Nite-Owl smash their way through a barroom window, causing the Comedian to snark "Door was open, you morons..."
  • Unfriendly Fire: Eddie does this to his commanding officer in the Pacific during World War II.
  • Who Shot JFK?: Despite what has been implied elsewhere, Comedian #1 reveals that Eddie did not shoot Kennedy. Later, he meets his contact, Gordy, and remarks on how they could be mistaken for one another, implying that Gordy was JFK's true killer. Nevertheless, Blake was the one who really killed Robert F. Kennedy.

    Dollar Bill 
  • All-American Face: Wearing the bank's colors and the Stars and Stripes.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Admits to peeing a little during his first fight.
  • Cape Snag: Played for Drama, as the end of the comic shows Bill's last moments and thoughts during the events that lead up to his death.
  • Continuity Nod: Several to Minutemen. Bill tries out for the team along with the various people in the Terrible Interviewees Montage, and they are the people from Minutemen (though Iron Lid's costume is more colorful), and the first misson the team shared and covered up.
  • Due to the Dead: Bill's funeral, where the remaining Minutemen attend, in costume, and Metropolis delivers the eulogy. The sequence of events established in Minutemen means that Sally got dressed up again after quitting to attend his funeral. Afterwards, they see a bunch of kids dressing up as Bill and reenacting the faithful scene, but with a more superheroic Immune to Bullets flair. Byron wonders if he'll be forgotten, Nelson laughs it off and shows him the kids, saying that he'll still be remembered.
  • The Hero Dies: Bill was Doomed by Canon. Bill's funeral is featured at the end of the story.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: The original people trying out for the job said the outfit looked gaudy (or saying they look like a fag in it), and though Bill agrees to wear it, he protests the cape as it would restrict movement.
  • Posthumous Narration: Bill does this after his funeral.
  • Survivor's Guilt: Byron admits he feels bad Silhouette and Dollar Bill died before him, thinking he should've been the first to die.
  • To Absent Friends: Bill's reaction to hearing the news of Silhouette's death, drinking a toast for her journey to the afterlife; even though he thought God was punishing her for her orientation, he still thought of her as a loyal teammate.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Despite being an actor, and afraid of getting shot, Bill follows Nite Owl and Hooded Justice into one of the banks he supported to fight the robbers. After that, he compares his experiences to playing football in college, and how the adrenaline got him going.

    Doctor Manhattan 
  • Alternate History: In-Universe, when Jon sees many different realities from several decisions. Some include John F. Kennedy surviving his assassination attempt, JFK's assassin either being a successful Comedian or a thwarted Lee Harvey Oswald, to the Comedian with the Vietnamese woman and her newborn child, whose lives he spared.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: All the Alternate Universes Dr. Manhattan creates end in nuclear war, so he more safely destroys them all by thinking them out of existence.
  • For Want of a Nail: In the first issue, Dr. Manhattan creates a universe where Jon Osterman never got turned into Dr. Manhattan. The second issue continues from there to Jon's and Janey's wedding, where a small decision (going to the left or right door) decides whether the Comedian or Ozymandias becomes part of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • Perspective Flip: Issue no. 4 quite literally flips to show Ozymandias’s perspective on his conversation with Manhattan about the Alternate Universes Manhattan created and destroyed and Manhattan’s inability to fully see the future of the existing timeline. Ozymandias makes sure to keep his pulse calm, since Manhattan could hear any emotional reactions.
  • Physical God: Manhattan is able to create and destroy Alternate Universes simply by imagining into and out of existence. And after the events of Watchmen, Manhattan goes on to create new lifeforms on another planet.
  • Pulp Magazine: At least one of the variant covers pays homage to the genre's traditionally lurid space-age cover art.
  • Retcon: It features an alternate, longer version of the Crimebusters scene.
  • Scenery Censor: The first cover already features this. In the actual comic his penis is shown (but never erect).
  • With This Ring: In the reality where Jon never became Dr. Manhattan, he proposes to Janey by hiding a ring inside a stuffed bear he arranges for her to win at a carnival sideshow.

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Hollis becomes this by stories end. His good work ethic and honesty made him a local hero out of uniform and in-uniform he became one of the most well liked heroes, even having a parade thrown for him in the end when he rescues a missing child. He's one of the only Minutemen to survive with his health and reputation intact having escaped many of the scandals that claimed his companions.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Darwin's stylistic art makes everyone look quite good. Ursula is better-looking and more feminine than her portrayal in the original Watchmen, Hooded Justice is drawn more super heroic with Irisless Eye Mask Of Mystery getting rid of his odd looking eyes sticking out from the hood. Young Eddie's downright handsome in the more cartoonish style.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Silhouette calls Hollis Mr. Owl or Mr. Nite-Owl, more as a formality. As they get to know each other, she calls him Mr. Hollis, and later, more affectionately, Mr. Silly, or silly man. When delirious from blood loss, she calls him Mister Angel.
  • The Alcoholic: As in the original, Byron Lewis. Some of the reasons are brought to the fore — the sheer terrifying difficulty of doing what he did day in and day out (jump off of tall buildings, in the course of an already stressful career, and hope it worked, every single time) eventually broke him.
  • Ascended Extra: The comic centers on a cast of some of the most minor characters in the series so this trope is a given. Dollar Bill had no lines in the original series, and Silhouette is given a fairly prominent role despite only saying one sentence in the comic. All the Minutemen get their personalities expanded upon.
  • Backstory Horror:
  • Badass Crew: The Minutemen, while they can fight well, they're very dysfunctional, and their relationships to each other varies from respect to apathy to outright hatred.
  • The Beard: Sally for Hooded Justice.
  • Berserker Tears: Byron has them in Minutemen #2. Ursula and Hollis follow the sound of crying because they think they're on the way to finding the abducted child they're seeking — and they do, just not alive. The person crying is Byron.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Nelly is clearly way, way over his head in his relationship with HJ, whether the bondage itself is the issue or not. The original Watchmen implies Hooded Justice is a sadist, but it doesn't say anything about Nelson being a masochist, or the two of them being well-matched.
  • Break the Cutie: It's quite a shock to see Nelson Gardner, previously a neurotic wreck in Watchmen proper, as a fit and self-assured younger man. His relationship with HJ probably had a lot to do with it. Byron is following a similar downward trajectory.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: The guy Hooded Justice advances on in the first issue wets himself.
  • Bullet Proof Human Shield: Averted. When Ursula rescues a child, she is shot, the bullet passes through her back and into the child's chest, killing her.
  • Bury Your Gays: Ursula and Gretchen were killed by one of her foes, both for being an enemy and for her orientation.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The first issues have some really funny moments. The latter issues are noticeably darker.
  • Coat, Hat, Mask: The nature of Ursula's costume, though whether it's a full redesign or simply her original costume before Lawrence made her over into something more sellable is debatable.
  • Combat Stilettos: Sally has them, until her Let's Get Dangerous! moment. Silhouette's silhouette had the appearance of them, as it was Juxtaposed with a cover of Vogue which she appeared on, implying a fashion motif, but upon getting into a fight reveals that they're regular boots.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Nite Owl fights The Comedian dressed as Hooded Justice, and Hollis is beaten quite badly, and has his ribs broken.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: When Ursula was in Linz, she and her sister lived in the orphanage. She met Gretchen, her girlfriend, and prepared to flee with her, but found that her sister had been taken and murdered by a Nazi torturer. Since then she's become devoted to saving children from those who would do them harm, closing herself off from others in her crusade.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Ursula fled from the Nazis after they murdered her sister Blanche. Hooded Justice also seems to have one, because after he broke into her apartment, he could be seen waking up crying and screaming Nein.
  • Dead-Hand Shot: How we see Ursula's death, via bloody slashed hand. The Liquidator's death is shown this way as well, seeing only his hand from the bathtub.
  • Dead Hat Shot: A non-drowning example in Issue #6 we see a flashback of Ursula's death with her hat turned upside down, and her bed in the back.
  • Determinator:
    • Silhouette's first appearance has her descend a building by jumping on ledges to get to a large man carrying a kid in a carpet. When she gets to the ground, the guy uses her momentum against her by punching her in the face. When he runs off, he waits behind a corner to blindside her and then kick her in the face while she's down, and then Neck Lift her. She is close enough to slash and kick him, and he runs after that.
    • Mothman's a determinator too. His original tests resulted in some pretty bad breaks. He continued on, still wanting to help people, but always living with the fear of falling, dying and all of his trust in a machine which had let him down before.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
  • Doomed by Canon: In one way or another, they're all bound to wind up dead or shells of their former selves by the time the main Watchmen series starts.
  • Due to the Dead: Played with When Ursula and Gretchen are killed they're given an unmarked grave by Byron's request as their deaths were a hate crime, he wanted to preserve their dignity, and not have anyone vandalize the burial. Sally even pays her respects, apologizing for treating Ursula with scorn, and reveals that she hunted down and executed her killer. Even Eddie appears to pay his respects. As time went on, Hollis mentions that despite all the good Ursula did in helping children, the tabloids turned her into a joke, and that's all the public really remembers.
  • Engineered Heroics:
    • Spectre starts her career by thwarting staged shop robberies. The stores usually go along with it for the free publicity.
    • After the fact variant. The Minutemen succeed in stopping a criminal act, but rather than being Italian fascist saboteurs smuggling bombs, they blow up a warehouse full of smuggled fireworks. Nelly even holds up one of his armored car's own shells as proof the criminals were arms smugglers.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Issue #1 is built on this, and it gives one to each and every member of the Minutemen, showing a promotional picture, and then their scene. Hooded Justice is big threatening and invokes a Mook Horror Show. Silk-Spectre is shown in a pin-up, and then shown taking down a crook, while Hollis narrates about how her manager hired an actor to play the crook, payed off the cops, and had a failing jewelry store get robbed to get publicity. Hollis debuts jumping onto an armored car, subduing the crooks, and causing it to flip over, right before jumping out and saving a mother and child from getting hit. Mothman debuts with a pan of his house, showing his wealth, accomplishments, and finally his alcohol, then, he's seen on a roof, looking all the way down, and drinking to get the courage to fly. Silhouette debuts jumping down the ledges on a building to stop a man carrying off a carpet. She catches him and takes quite a beating before slashing his chest and making him run off, before opening the carpet revealing an abused child, and telling him he's safe. Dollar Bill debuts on a movie advertisement, where he beats up some crooks, and encourages people to invest in the bank. Finally, Captain Metropolis debuts, with a pan of his estate, costumes, and technology, all as he talks about putting an ad in the paper to attract other heroes.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Rolf Muller was kicked out of the Nazi party because he was too sick for them.
  • Face–Heel Turn: A kinda hard one to spot, but the Iron Lid (wearing the armor and welding mask and carried a blow torch) showed up to audition for the minute men ("We burn them all, yes?"), later he's apparently become a bad guy and can be seen in the background getting beaten by Dollar Bill.
  • Fanservice: Sally at all times, looking like a pinup. Nelly in the bath, looking like a gay pinup. In issue #3, Sally and Ursula do pin-ups for the war (Ursula noticeably with a look more resembling her look in Watchmen proper). Sally's more racy pictures are all rather clear, but the woman in the pictures with her has a mask, an obscure face, or a different hair type, making it unclear if Ursula is in them as well.
  • Fan Disservice: Hey, a HJ/Nelly sex scene! Hey, uh, what are you doing there, Justice?
  • Foregone Conclusion: It's a prequel, and by the time Watchmen starts things, the Minutemen have completely shattered.
  • Foreshadowing: All over the damn place.
    • One very good example is when Ursula tries rescuing the girl, and is shot, with the girl dying. She states that the girl is fading like a flickering light, with the image of Silhouette and the girl, small and featureless, in a flickering light-bulb foreshadowing her own death.
    • When Ursula calls Hollis at the police box, a poster for the Bluecoat comics can be seen behind him, though the figure is wearing a red cape.
  • Friend to All Children: Silhoette's M.O. as a hero. After her sister and a bunch of their fellow orphans were brutally tortured and killed by the Nazis that took over their orphanage, she eventually took up vigilante crime-fighting, specifically targeting those involved child trafficking and child pornography, eventually joining the Minutemen with the hope that they would help her.
  • General Ripper: Eddie revealed to have served under one in the war. After Eddie, and one of his troops, Greg survive their squadron's attack (by one sniper and a mine field), through the kindness of a native and her child, they report the attack to him. The General Orders the placed shelled against Eddie's protests. When Eddie tries to warn the woman, he comes too late, and finds her, disorientated, and severely burnt, with her child fused against her side. The General shoots her, in a mocking gesture of mercy. In true Comedian fashion he slits the general's throat with a Japanese Bayonet.
  • Good Samaritan: In WW2, Eddie's viewpoint is challenged when he almost gets killed in the pacific islands by a mine. A local woman and her son rescue Eddie, and Greg, and she and Greg carry Eddie back to patch him up. After he and Greg report to camp the general has the area she lived in shelled.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The abducted child's corpse at the end of Minutemen #2. We see Hollis reeling from the foul smell before they even enter the room, and then horrified reactions' on the three's faces. Byron is just standing there stock-still, tears running down his face. At the same time the panels keep cutting away to HJ assaulting Captain Metropolis, showing little more than their faces and hands. Ultimately Ursula's death was this. With the perpetrator breaking in advancing on Gretchen and Ursula sleeping, and a final panel of her trying to defend Gretchen and holding out her hand in defense. A panel before only showed a limp bloody hand, and the word "Lesbian whores" written in their blood. The Liquidator also dies this way, with Sally hunting him down after he murdered Ursula. Ironically, his body was discovered with a limp bloody hand as well.
  • Gut Punch: In issue 4, the series hits the moment where the tone falls firmly into cynicism, more character deaths occur, and the team starts to lose membership in one way or another. Specifically the moment where Ursula and Gretchen die.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Eddie turns the meeting that's meant to be his official dismissal from the Minutemen (for sexually assaulting Sally) into an opportunity to beat up HJ and accuse the rest of them as being just as bad as he is.
  • Hero Stage Show: Dollar Bill's day job is performing in a heroic stage show to entertain kids and promote a bank. At one point, he convinces Nite-Owl to join him.
  • How We Got Here
  • I Love Nuclear Power: Averted to tragic effect. In his efforts to prevent the Statue of Liberty from exploding and killing all of New York, Scout manages to prevent the bomb from going off at the cost of being blasted with a high dosage of uranium radiation unprotected. While he looks fine at first, by the time he dies his whole body is deformed beyond recognition.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: Hooded Justice: The Noose looks cool, but it serves as an easy thing to grab onto in a fight. When Comedian left, he used it to flip Justice over and subdue him and in issue #6 Hollis grabs onto it, breaking his neck. Lampshaded.
    Comedian:"What kind of stupid shit fights crime with a noose around his neck?"
  • Incompatible Orientation: During their time in the Minuteman, Hollis would help Silhouette in her mission to finding and bringing down a Child-killer, both more interested in enforcing justice rather than working on their brand. They soon became friends and Hollis would develop feelings for her. When he decides to act upon these feelings, she awkwardly breaks it to him that she was in a relationship with Gretchen. While he does not hold it against them and is not bothered that his friends are homosexuals, he still harbored feelings that would eventually devastate him when they were both found murdered by the Liquidator.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Minutemen #2 uses Robert Louis Stevenson's poem "The Unseen Playmate" juxtaposed with a child going missing at the fairground and the frantic search for him. Ursula seems to have it in her notes about finding the kids, and it may be connected to Hooded Justice.
  • Jabba Table Manners: Not quite so extreme, but Eddie shaking down a bartender for some pickled eggs and then wolfing them down is pretty gross.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: How Eddie fights crime, beating up criminals because it's fun or to get out anger, not out of any moral obligation Rolf Muller dies this way.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Upon hearing about Silhouette's death Sally forgoes her stilettos, grabs some boots, a brass knuckle and a knife, and goes out to torture and kill the murderer, The Liquidator.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Sally is a glamorous, strawberry-blonde all-American girl who's happy to take the credit for a few busted crooks but doesn't like to get her hands dirty. Ursula is a trenchcoat-wearing, raven-haired Jewish lesbian immigrant, capable of real ruthlessness but deep compassion.
  • Like Brother and Sister: At the end of his career, surrounded by dead friends and ones trapped by physiological problems, Hollis is still very close to Sally, becoming an "uncle" to her daughter Laurie. He admits he has few personal connections, but Sally and Laurie mean a lot to him.
  • Marijuana Is LSD: Averted. Byron takes hashish for his leg and back pain, and he's still coherent and doesn't suffer any hallucinatory effects. Compare that to when Ozymandias takes the drug in his series and the original.
  • Mook Horror Show: Hooded Justice's debut involves him stalking two murderers after beating two others. He takes one out and advances threateningly, silently and visibly onto the final man as he drops his gun, begs and wets himself. HJ throws him out the window, and Hollis mentions that the crook's body smashed a car and coated the officer standing next to it. Said officer retired the next day.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Hollis is horrified to realize that Hooded Justice, whom he killed, was innocent.
  • Nice Guy:
    • How Hollis regards Dollar Bill, in spite of his Politically Incorrect Hero status, Hollis calls him a friend and mourns his passing in issue #5
    • Hollis himself is also one. He takes time off during his beat to help an Italian family with getting the car to start, even giving a kid his hat to play with. He mentions that after that they "thought he was alright for an Irishman." He mentions the wife of the guy he helped helped him pick out flowers, and he went looking for her son when he was taken.
  • Nominal Hero: Sally is, as ever, in it for the publicity. This puts her at odds with many of her teammates, particularly Ursula, who willingly takes on difficult and unglamorous cases. (Dollar Bill is also transparently a marketing ploy rather than an actual crime-fighter, but he's less ostentatious about it.)
  • Nostalgic Narrator: Hollis's opening narration displays him as such, but he's written the book to show that nostalgia or no, the truth needs to be known.
    Hollis: "Over the months it took me to complete, I found the act of writing seemed to purge me of the darker aspects of my secret life. As if I trapped all of it in a bottle I could now toss away into the surf. Lately, when I think of those times the dark parts fall farther and farther away from my limited line of sight. From down here on earth, I can only see what I want to see. From here, in my empty apartment, I can only see the good."
  • Not Quite Flight: Byron's wings.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: The Comedian reveals to Hollis that Hooded Justice was not Rolf Mueler, the child Serial Killer that Silhouette was searching for. The Comedian already killed him and then dressed up as Hooded Justice, so Nite Owl would go after HJ. The Comedian didn’t expect Nite Owl to kill HJ, but wasn’t sorry to see him dead.
  • Opaque Lenses: Gretchen in the present day, looking more stoic. Larry has them as well.
  • Opaque Nerd Glasses: Byron. Gretchen in her flashback.
  • Pet the Dog: Ursula is hardly a villain, but she's still closed-off and none too friendly with her fellow masked adventurers. She goes out of her way to combat child abuse and child trafficking in particular — it's not glamorous compared to catching wartime saboteurs and stopping bank robberies, but somebody has to think of the children. She also considers Hollis and Byron her friends.
  • Politically Correct History: Averted, within the first few pages of Minutemen #1 someone's getting casually called an antisemitic slur by a police officer. Likewise, the series touches on anti-gay prejudice with both the Silhouette and Hooded Justice/Nelson Gardner.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Due to the Deliberate Values Dissonance of the times, Captain Metropolis calls the Japanese they're going to try and stop 'heathens', and has some racist tendencies. Dollar Bill is shown to be homophobic during a discussion with Hollis, and questions Eddie's guilt in assaulting Sally, citing the way Sally dresses. The Comedian is a borderline case, he's seen killing Japanese crooks and dishing out slurs, but he's the Comedian, he hates practically everyone.
  • Rape as Drama: The child Ursula rescues from the child porn ring pleads for no more when she finds him. Later, when Hooded Justice and Nelson Gardner have sex, it's clearly and explicitly not what Nelly wanted, and he looks terrified. We also see the aftermath of the Comedian assaulting Sally.
  • Really 17 Years Old: Hey, Eddie's old enough to bust crooks he's old enough to have a beer, right?
  • Red Herring: The child killer's identity was implied to be the man from Ursula's past. Hooded Justice was the prime suspect; he wore a hood and similar colors. Numerous hints were dropped that he at least had some connection to the case. The true culprit being Rolf Müller (who was the man from her past), with Eddie pointing out the Fridge Logic of him not being Justice, given the age difference.
  • Retcon:
    • It turns out that Hollis' book Under the Hood wasn't completely honest in regards to Hooded Justice and left out a few other details.
    • In the original graphic novel Sally implies that she and the Comedian only had an affair once which resulted in Laurie's conception, but here it reveals that she and Blake reconnected after Silhouette's funeral and had an affair lasting at least until her wedding day with Larry.
    • In Watchmen Hooded Justice is suspected of being a German circus strongman named Rolf Müller, but here it's confirmed that while a serial killer Müller had been a seperate person who was too old to be Hooded Justice. However Hooded Justice does speak in German at one point and it's implied he was a boy named Jacob who was abused by Müller. Since Müller had a picture of Jacob a likely explantion would be that Hooded Justice is Müller's son.
  • Slave to PR: Sally refuses to help with depressing cases, because she wants the team's name (and her own) to be associated with happy, triumphant things in the minds of the public: Gang bosses, terrorists, or some new super-villain named... Moloch.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: When an angry General Ripper tears into the Comedian, questioning his integrity as an independent agent, Eddie says, standing at attention with a straight face, "With all due respect sir, go fuck yourself."
  • Superhero Packing Heat: Silhouette dual wields pistols as part of her ensemble all the time. In issue #5, Captain Metropolis shows that he has several automatic weapons and handguns, and he, Hooded Justice, Nite Owl, Mothman, and Bluecoat all take up arms.
  • Tagalong Kid: Subverted; while young, Eddie is far from useless, and good luck trying to kidnap him.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: The auditions for the Minutemen. The hopefuls range from amusingly ineffectual (Liberty Lassy, a cheerful Statue of Liberty-themed triple threat who can cook a mean brisket) to strange (Iron Lid, a crimefighter in a welder's mask and metal armor who wants to burn crooks with fire, and The Slut, a perfectly ordinary-looking woman who likes to take her clothes off and do...stuff) to just sad (Hank, an overweight man in a dirty sweatshirt with a bucket on his head who's "just Hank").
  • Token Evil Teammate: Eddie's not yet the bastard he'll grow up to be, but he's still pretty fresh-mouthed, and robs the crooks he apprehends. In his debut, he beats up a bunch of thugs in a bar, and then threatens the bartender for pickled eggs, which he then eats, knocks the old man out, and robs him. We also see the aftermath of him assaulting Sally.
  • Understanding Girlfriend: When Ursula is shot, the first person she goes to is her girlfriend.
  • The Unreveal: Hooded Justice isn't Rolf Mueler, and we never see his adult face outside of shadows (though we may have seen him as a child), and when he dies, Nelson demands that his mask stays on when he blows up the tower.
  • Warts and All: Hollis is writing the book to show what the team was really like, in success and in failure. This becomes a running motif, things like comics and other idealized drawings contrasting how the team really functioned, and ultimately failed.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Minutemen #4 is where the ball really drops: Silhouette is killed, Silk Spectre quits, Mothman's severe alcoholic problems increase, and Hooded Justice is revealed to have some connection to the child murders.
    • The death of the boy who became Scout in #5.
    • The revelations about Hooded Justice in #6.
  • Wham Shot: The case at the end of Minutemen #2.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Sally gives one to Captain Metropolis and Hooded Justice after they all voted Silhouette off, and she was killed as a result. She then quits.
  • Where It All Began: This is the story of the Minutemen.
  • Yellow Peril: Japanese are considered the enemies as the war rages, and as it ends. When Eddie goes Solo he's seen killing armed Japanese gangsters. Two new heroes, Bluecoat and Scout, inform the heroes of a plot by bitter Japanese after the war ended. They all plan to blow up the Statue of Liberty, so they team up with the remainder of the Minutemen. Bluecoat and Scout are based on a fictional comic, where the titular heroes beat up the "evil Japanese." Turns out that the two are actually Japanese themselves, a father and son who had lost their wife/mother in the internment camps, and the boy's grandfather is starting the whole scheme. The two did not want so many people to die, so they teamed with the Minutemen to stop them, dressing as the all-American heroes lest they be distrusted.

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Inverted; While Edgar had been depicted as plain-looking, his Before Watchmen comic shows him as a borderline Gonk.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: As a boy, Edgar was bullied for his freakish appearance. His parents didn't even want to look at him as they raised him.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Averted, Edgar mentions he could have tried other faiths but was drawn to Catholicism for various reasons, like the Latin texts and a chance for redemption.
  • Continuity Nod: There's a blink-and-miss-it to Comedian #1 in issue #2, where Moloch says that after JFK got shot he and the Comedian bonded and Edward knew he could talk to Edgar, which goes against what we know about them from Watchmen, but does make sense if you remember the moment in Comedian when Edgar and Edward are watching the TV news report about JFK's death together.
  • Downer Ending: Moloch #2 ends with his death by Adrian.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Edgar turned to religion after his stint in prison. If one looks in Watchmen proper, Moloch has a crucifix and a statue of the virgin Mary in his home.
  • Kids Are Cruel: During Edgar's childhood, Edgar included.
  • Let Them Die Happy: At the end, is told by Adrian everything he wished to accomplish with his plan and how he would do it. Edgar is happy to help the world in his own way, to participate in "the ultimate magic trick".
  • Looks Like Orlok: Moloch's appearance is exaggerated compared to his appearance in the original comic.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In-Universe, Edgar admits that some of his henchmen believed he had real magic powers, while some thought it was illusion. He was only using smoke and mirrors, and later advanced technology to achieve his feats.
  • Start of Darkness: When he was young Edgar had a crush on a girl who seemed to take an interest in him after he does a magic trick with her as his assistant, but later he overhears her discussing plans to embarress him while having sex with her boyfriend. He then murders her boyfriend and puts his corpse in her bed.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: That's the feeling Edgar got when coming face to face with Dr. Manhattan, who could do the amazing feats of power Edgar only could pretend to do with magic. He saw no possible way to outrun or defeat him, ending up in jail. The further conflicts he had with Ozymandias and The Comedian were pointless as long as Manhattan existed.

    Nite Owl II 
  • Ascended Fanboy: Dan, as ever, with a bedroom full of Nite Owl merch. He tracks down Hollis' hideout and shows up to tell him so.
  • Big Bad: Taylor Stone.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Nite Owl and Rorschach both pull one.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Twilight Lady makes an appearance as a...negligent dominatrix supervillainess.
  • Continuity Nod: The papers that Hollis gives Dan to read are probably, or at least possibly, a reference to the less honorable stuff that the Minutemen did in Minutemen.
  • Creepy Child: Walter in #4.
  • Crimefighting with Cash: Dan uses the inheritance from his father to pay for Archimedes and his Nite Owl gadgets.
  • Dating Catwoman: Nite Owl has an affair with the Twilight Lady, as opposed to her simply having a crush on him, as he tells Laurie years later.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rorschach. Before the Roche case destroys him psychologically, he even jokes about Laurie's costume giving Dan a boner.
  • Domestic Abuse: Dan's dad is abusive, in a direct reversal of the fanon sensibility that Adrian's parents were abusive Nazis and Dan's were ineffectual but well-meaning.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!: Young Dan walks in on his dad beating his mother with a belt.
  • Downer Ending: Rorschach and Nite Owl don't work together anymore, and Dan doesn't get together with the Twilight Lady.
  • Feeling Their Age: Hollis starts to feel old in the 1950s, having endured the murder of his close friend Silhouette, a HUAC investigation, and the "Friend of the Children" investigation, which resulted in Nite Owl killing Hooded Justice after being led to believe that he'd been kidnapping and murdering kids. After Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias start appearing, he decides that he's really not needed anymore.
  • Foregone Conclusion: You know that no matter what happens, Rorschach and Nite Owl will survive safe and sound.
  • Kid Sidekick: Dan wants to be this for Hollis, but Hollis resists taking him on due to his age and vulnerability, even after he's proved himself as technically apt for the job. Hollis does, however, train Dan to succeed him.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Rorshach kills Taylor Stone with his signature "The End Is Nigh" sign.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: In #4, Rorschach makes it clear that he considers himself to be one.
  • Murder by Inaction: Mrs. Dreiberg doesn’t call 911 when her abusive husband has a heart attack … because she can’t remember the number.
  • Plot Hole: Rorschach has already adopted his clipped monotone and black-and-white worldview long before the events that triggered his breakdown in Watchmen proper.
  • Retcon: Two noticeable examples, though easily explained away by saying that Dan didn't feel like telling Laurie the true details and lied.
    • In Watchmen Dan tells Laurie that he was surprised his father had left him his money after he died, having apparently been disappointed that he didn't go into banking like him. This comic reveals that he was an abusive man who had a heart attack when Dan was seventeen after beating his wife, with her and Dan choosing to wait until he was actually dead before calling an ambulance.
    • In Watchmen Dan described Twilight Lady to Laurie as being a sick woman with an obsession with him and misremembers her name as Dusk Woman, though given he kept her photo it's implied he was leaving out details. This comic explains they had a Dating Catwoman relationship that ended with her breaking up with him.
  • Riddle for the Ages: What Hollis Mason decided to let Dan know about his past. Though it might be the stuff we read about in Minutemen.
  • Sinister Minister: Reverend Taylor Stone.
  • Teen Genius: Dan is a really smart kid.
  • Wham Line: "You should go inside. It's cold. Oh, and at some point you should call the hospital. Looks like your father had a heart attack. I'd do it myself, but for some reason I just can't remember the phone number.''

  • Ambiguously Jewish: Adrian's parents. (At their cemetery their tombstones are two large crosses, but they're also decayed and crumbled-looking despite being brand new, in a way that suggests Adrian has already sunk into a narrative reverie.)
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: On the over of issue #1, and in most of the series' interior art, Ozymandias bears an uncanny resemblance to Julian Assange.
  • Disposable Woman: Miranda in issue #1 is an example played relatively straight — she exists to be gorgeous redheaded eye candy, to reinforce Adrian being at least bisexual, if not straight, by way of her sexual voraciousness... and end up picturesquely dead in his bed from a drug overdose, compelling him to take down Moloch's drug ring.
  • Doting Parent: Not to the comical extreme to which this trope is usually played, but Adrian's parents are wealthy perfumers who seem proud of their son and overall pleasant. Even when buying off his school to keep them from expelling him over permanently disabling another student.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Adrian shows his only gleam of genuinely off-guard emotion when he receives the news his parents have been killed. He also later sells a perfume made specifically to smell like his mother.
  • Genius Bruiser:
  • Girl Friday: Marla. So much so that Ozy has her killed, because he fears she knows too much.
  • Gothic Horror: Adrian's view of events during Ozymandias #1 have a distinct flavor of this, almost to the point of melodrama.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation:
    • Adrian is too busy working out how to play the stock market to keep up with his girlfriend.
    • During his childhood, his efforts to hide his intelligence lead to Adrian never making any friends.
  • Junkie Prophet: Adrian's desert vision is elaborated upon a bit in this.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: Adrian has Marla killed, since she knows too much about his plans to fake an alien invasion. He does the same thing in Watchmen to all the scientists and writers who unknowingly work on his project. His series ends with his reluctant decision to kill the Comedian when Blake stumbles upon Adrian’s secret island.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: Veidt, on one of the covers of issue #1.
  • Little Professor Dialogue: Adrian as a kid falls into this trope headfirst. It's incredibly creepy.
  • Lovecraft Lite: An odd example; the plot and narration are practically dripping with Lovecraftian details (the implicit Sanity Slippage of Veidt himself, the recurring tentacle images foreshadowing his custom-made Eldritch Abomination from the end of the original story, the 1920s-style decor, machinery and architecture despite the story being set in the 1940s and 1950s), but there are no actual supernatural elements to be found.
  • Marijuana Is LSD: Hashish doesn't make you trip balls, either! A little easier to buy if you think Adrian's "friend" slipped him something extra, or Veidt's already losing it.
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: One of the alternate covers for Ozymandias #2 has Adrian being somewhat suggestively strangled by a strange woman in costume.
  • Police Are Useless: Deconstructed. Given that the superheroes do much of the real crime-fighting, the New York city council refuses to grant the police’s annual raise. This leads the police union to go on strike and the government to ultimately pass the Keene Act in response.
  • Pronouncing My Name for You: In a conversation with Captain Metropolis, Adrian is asked if his name is pronounced Ozymandius or Ozymandius. He explains that while both are acceptable, he's always preferred Ozymandius.
    Ozymandias: It sounds more... elegant somehow.
  • Rejecting the Inheritance: Adrian gives up his inheritance so he can be a truly Self-Made Man.
  • Shout-Out: Kid Adrian has a poster of The Thing from Outer Space on his bedroom wall.
  • Start of Darkness: Well, in Veidt's eyes, it's this.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: When Adrian's bullied by an older kid at school who steals his lunches, Adrian starts taking martial arts lessons... and uses them to calculatedly shatter the older boy's knee. When told that the other boy may never walk normally again, Adrian calmly says that it'll remind him not to repeat his transgressions later in life. (This seems to be a deliberate parallel with Walter Kovacs' childhood violence in the original Watchmen, except that Adrian has loving parents who can buy him out of trouble by paying to build the school a new library. Likewise, the grotesque splintering of the broken leg is reminiscent of the amped-up gore in the film adaptation.)
  • Walking the Earth: Adrian, in the footsteps of Alexander the Great.
  • Who Shot JFK?: Once JFK is killed, Adrian investigates all the footage he can find of the murder in order to see if things really went the way the official story says. Eventually, he discovers that despite his tremendous intelligence, it's just not possible for him to get a clear answer about who's the true culprit.

  • Badass Boast: "So, crime fighter huh? Is that what you are? Nice to meet you. I am crime." Rawhead's first lines.
  • Big Bad: Rawhead.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Rawhead and the Bard get what they deserve, but the only truly sympathetic character (Nancy) ends up traumatized for life and leaving the city, which has the side-effect of damning the last shot at humanity Rorschach had. And in the end, when it's all said and done, it's clear that despite Rorschach's quest to fight crime, the world remains as rotten as always and nothing will change.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: As a result of his inflated ego, Rawhead always decides to capture Rorschach and have fun with him rather than just kill him. Ironically this isn't what gets him killed, at least not directly.
  • The Cameo: Travis Bickle comes to Rorschach's aid in issue two.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: In issue #1, Rorschach kicks down the door on a crook while he is in a booth at an adult cinema.
  • Costume Copycat: Rawhead takes Rorschach's mask and goes out to fight crime in it.
  • Darker and Edgier
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rorschach is in top form.
  • Distant Finale: The epilogue jumps forward five years, to Rorschach finally punishing the Bard for his attack on Nancy.
  • The Dragon: "Lucky", Rawhead's main henchman who is more than able to match up Rorschach in a fistfight.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Strangely inverted; Rawhead gets "Drunk on the light side" after putting on Rorschach's mask and deciding to go do some vigilantism.
  • Everything Is Racist: A black guy working in a diner misinterprets a comment by a female cacuasian workmate.
    Woman: Nobody's safe anymore... We're livin' in a jungle, surrounded by wild savages...
    Man: What's that supposed to mean?
    Woman: I didn'... You know. Don' pretend you...
  • Former Regime Personnel: Rawhead and his crew are former Vietnam veterans turned to crime.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Rorschach's torturing a man while a porn movie plays.
  • Left for Dead: Happens to Rorschach.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Rawhead's tiger end up being used against him.
  • Karmic Death: Rawhead is beaten to death by some looters while attempting to play at being Rorschach.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The underlying theme of the story.
  • Made of Iron: Rorschach is pretty roughed up by Rawhead's men, but he pushes on.
  • Mythology Gag: Rorschach briefly encounters a Taxi Driver who is clearly intended to be Travis Bickle, from the film of the same name. Bickle was one of Moore's inspirations for Rorschach.
  • Obligatory Swearing: Shove it up it!
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: Rawhead has a tiger. Ironically it is used against him by Rorschach.
  • Scenery Porn: It's a Lee Bermejo comic. What else did you expect?
  • Self-Disposing Villain: Attracted by the anonymity wearing Rorschach's mask gives him, Rawhead takes to the streets to beat up some looters who are taking advantage of the blackout. Unfortunately for him, he's not as good a fighter as Rorschach, and they unceremoniously beat him to death.
  • Serial Killer: The Bard, a maniac who murders women, strips them naked, carves faux-meaningful philosophical ramblings onto their corpses, and leaves them in public places to be found.
  • Temporary Love Interest: Rorschach gets (something resembling) a love interest in Nancy the waitress, for whom he seems to feel some kind of affection and whom he asks out on what is essentially a date. However, the date never happens, as Rorschach gets captured by Rawhead, while Nancy is assaulted by the Bard.
  • Torture Technician: Both Rorschach and Lucky.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Rawhead's gang as the A-plot; the Bard as the B-plot.
  • Übermensch: Rawhead comments this is the gist of Rorscharch's mask. It makes one feel above society by removing their face.
  • What You Are in the Dark: The central theme of the story. For example, when the city blacks out, the city becomes chaotic and violent, and Rorscharch takes this as a statement of the city's nature.

    Silk Spectre II 
  • Action Girl: Laurie, even more so than in Watchmen proper.
  • Alpha Bitch: Betsy in issue one needles Laurie over her mother's past, and her heritage. Laurie takes her down in a single punch after a jab at her mother's more explicit career.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents
  • Attempted Rape: A gang of playing-card-themed criminals Laurie takes down seem to have designs on this, or something worse; it makes the ass-kicking they receive particularly brutal.
  • Bodyguard Babes: The Chairman calls them the Shake Sisters.
  • Breather Episode: Issue #1 is a surprisingly touching mother/daughter narrative that's much more tender, even at its strained moments, than we see in Watchmen proper. And it looks like Laurie's biggest issues are all relatively low-key.
  • Call-Forward: In the final scene, Laurie's thoughts about the other heroes during the Crimebusters meeting.
    *about Ozymandias* I bet he's the kind of guy that thinks the world can be changed for the better without punching and kicking.
    *about the Comedian* Some hero. More like somebody's old man.
    *about Nite Owl II* Oh, God, I could never go out with a guy like that. Total square.
  • Civvie Spandex: Laurie's first costume in issue #2 is in her iconic yellow-and-black colors, but it's just a skimpy Minidress of Power she asks one of her hippie friends to design for her rather than the layered, more identifiably costume-like outfit she will later wear.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Laurie clashes with her mother, experiences first love, gets her first boyfriend, and kicks the hell out of some crooks.
  • Daughter of the Town Tramp: Laurie gets a lot of flak from her classmates for the fact that her mother was once a sultry pinup girl featured in Tijuana Bibles and sleazy B-movies.
  • Eye Scream: The Chairman shoots Spades through his glasses in his right eye.
  • "Dear John" Letter: The Comedian forces Greg to write one to Laurie and then join the Marines.
  • The Generation Gap: Personified between Sally Juspeczyk, who hit the peak of her career in the 40s and never recovered, and Laurie, who's coming to adolescence at just the right time to acutely feel all the social changes of the 60s.
  • Granola Girl: Some of Laurie's friends in issue #2, when they're not just classic hippies.
  • Groin Attack: Laurie removes her boot from a criminal's throat when he complains he can't breathe, but pins him down by kneeling on his junk. When he complains about it, she retorts that she can kneel harder.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Unintentionally, when the doctor has treated Laurie's friends who've overdosed on drugs, he tells her to stay safe and to stay away from harmful stuff like that, while he and the nurse light up cigarettes, probably unaware of its detrimental effects.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Sally really wants Laurie to succeed at being a superhero, even at the cost of Laurie's personal life. Laurie feels that Sally is projecting on her. The Comedian beats up and threatens to kill Greg if he doesn't break up with Laurie and join the military.
  • Mushroom Samba: Laurie and her friends get drugged in issue 3, and she proceeds to talk to her now triangular three legged cat. Then she talks to the skeleton of the bird she left at home, which she thinks has starved, then she argues with Larry, her supposed father, sees a hallucination of Hooded Justice, then a bunch of her possible fathers, and so on and so forth. The panels get wavey, and soon turn into a spiral to reflect her state of mind.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In issue #2, we meet a band that resembles The Beatles.
  • Off-Model: When Laurie kicks the hatchet wielding Mook with the spades suit painted on his face, his hair turns from blue to heart's red, his spade's painting disappears, and so does his beard.
  • Parental Substitute: Hollis was the closest thing to a Father Laurie had.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Laurie is a product of her time — she thinks of herself as plenty liberated but has no qualms about calling two female Mooks she beats up nasty names. Understandable, as she's still a teenager and no one in Watchmen is exactly spotless in any way.
  • Retired Badass: Hollis may be old and retired, but he can still track down Laurie and beat-up the most competent of the Big Bad's henchwomen.
  • Road Trip Plot:
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Laurie hitches a ride with some friendly hippies, and the tagline for issue #2 is "The best part of the the trip." They weren't kidding. Laurie smokes a lot of weed with her roommates and the main crime to be busted involves sinister acid and shout-outs to Ken Kesey.
  • Stage Mom: Sally is this with flashbacks showing how she prevented Laurie from making any friends and how she tried to control her life.
  • The '60s: The comic takes place in 1966, several months before she become Silk Spectre and attends the Crimebusters meeting.
  • Slice of Life: Not entirely, since the costumed adventurer/civilian life tensions are still present, but this miniseries focuses more on Laurie and Sally as people and Laurie's coming of age.
  • Subliminal Seduction: The scheme masterminded by the Big Bad of issue #2 involves manipulating the young and trendy with subliminal messages in the songs of a band that, for legal reasons, DC Comics would like to point out is not actually The Beatles, as well as tainted LSD.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Hollis gives one to one of Laurie's hippie friends, saying that he had a responsibility to look after his friends and that he has no right to judge Sally for how she raised.
  • True Companions: At least for now, Laurie's housemates and traveling companions.
  • Voiceover Letter: The textual equivalent in issue #2; the text of Laurie's letter to Hollis, assuring him and her mom that she's having lots of good clean fun with her new friends, accompanies scenes of everyone getting stoned and cuddling and Laurie and her new boyfriend in bed.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Does Greg get back from Vietnam alive? We never know.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The Mooks with the card suits on their faces try this, but Laurie outclasses them, The Chairman and Hollis play this straight.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Chairman has all the local enforcers, promoters, and cookers terminated when he packs up shop.

    Curse of the Crimson Corsair