Who Watches The Watchmen TV Show? Me, Probably...

When it comes to adaptations nothing evokes my inner over protective fanboyism quite like Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons ‘Watchmen’. I know it’s not exactly original to hold this legendary graphic novel up as a masterpiece, but to me it’s genuinely one of the best works of fiction ever committed to paper, and I should know, I’ve read all of the ‘Roger Red Hat’ books.

That doesn’t mean I’m overly precious about it though, I really enjoyed the Zack Snyder movie version from 2009 and there’s been a couple of decent comics in recent years that extend the lore. It just means the source material will always hold a special place in my geeky heart (right next to Batman) and I don’t want anything to change that.

So, it’s with some trepidation that I find myself cautiously optimistic about HBO’s Watchmen TV series. Being overseen by Damon Lindelof, whose most notable previous works include writing ‘Lost’, ‘The Leftovers’ and *clears throat* ‘Prometheus’, the first teaser trailer has just been released. It’s short and gives away very little but certainly has me intrigued. It’s left me wondering how all this fits in to the overall ‘Watchmen’ mythos, how it plays with that world and its characters. While it hasn’t been officially stated that this is a sequel it seems to have a contemporary setting rather than the books’ alternate history version of the 80s. The idea of finding out what happened in the aftermath of the book could make for some interesting narrative.

With all that in mind here are a selection of moments from the trailer that I wanted to point out and discuss. Hopefully you might join in the conversation in the comments section but to be honest, I just need to get this out of my obsessive system. Obviously if you haven’t read ‘Watchmen’ there will be plenty of spoilers ahead.

Rorschach’s Legacy

The trailer begins with an imposing gang of Rorschach impersonators collectively staring straight into a camera as they deliver their unsettling message: “We are no one, we are everyone and we are invisible.” While Rorschach is usually everyone’s favourite character from ‘Watchmen’ he is by no means the hero of the story. In fact, there are no real heroes which is one of the central points of this deconstruction of the genre. Even with their various skills and powers they are just as real and damaged as the rest of us. Rorschach is a sociopath who blindly believes in his own moral compass without question or hesitation. To him there is only right and wrong, no compromise or shades of grey. This ultimately leads to his tragic death at the hands of Doctor Manhattan due to his refusal to go along with Adrian Veidt’s plan. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

The way this could tie into the TV show is that after his death, we see Rorschach’s journal turn up at a right-wing newspaper called ‘The New Frontiersman’. The journal contains all his thoughts and suspicions, not least of which is his investigation into the conspiracy behind multiple events throughout the book and how they connect with Veidt. Assuming his journal was published and revealed to the public this could have some serious repercussions. This could be what has inspired this group of individuals to take up the Rorschach mantle in an almost cult like fashion. It’s safe to say that a cult inspired by Rorschach’s unflinching morality and violent vigilantism is an incredibly dangerous proposition in these uncertain times.

Did Ozymandias Succeed?

Later in the trailer we get a small glimpse of Jeremy Irons playing the worlds smartest man, Adrian Veidt AKA Ozymandias. He sits solemnly meditating on his desk in a golden robe. As previously mentioned, his plan is the catalyst for all the events that occur in ‘Watchmen’ as he orchestrates everything from behind the scenes. This includes but is not limited to killing The Comedian, arranging for Doctor Manhattans departure from Earth by manipulating his past associates to falsely accuse him of giving them cancer and framing Rorschach for the murder of an old adversary. While you might think this makes him the villain of the piece nothing is ever that simple in this world.

Veidt’s actions while certainly questionable are necessary in order to conceal his goal; unite the planet against a common enemy and avoid nuclear war. This is where things get even weirder. He does this by manufacturing a monstrous invasion of New York by a giant squid like creature. Yep, that actually happens. The city is devastated and countless are dead but in the end his plan works. He achieves peace and cooperation between all countries and governments.

So where does this all factor into the series? If Rorschachs journal was indeed published this could mean that everything Veidt achieved has been undone. If not, what does the so called ‘smartest man in the world’ do with himself once his meticulous planning has come to fruition? Does he feel any guilt over his actions and what lengths has he had to go to in the subsequent years to uphold the lie?


The Clock Is Ticking

A common recurring motif that can be seen both throughout the original graphic novel and this trailer is that of a ticking clock. With the book this is quite literally demonstrated by the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic representation of how close the world is to nuclear war. This was a very real threat in the original 80s timeline but what could it mean in this more modern setting.

In the trailer you constantly hear the ‘tick, tock’ voiceover throughout which adds a sense of momentum and urgency. This is mirrored in the text that appears on screen as it gradually turns in to place like the hands of a clock. Don Johnson’s character literally says at the end of the trailer when asked what he’s talking about, “Oh nothing, just the end of the world. Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick…”.

There definitely seems to be a new imposing threat looming over everything but perhaps it’s not something on quite such a large scale as nuclear war. Civil unrest seems to be brewing with the emergence of a militaristic police force who feel the need to conceal their identities with bright yellow bandanas. Of course, there's also the re-emergence of costumed vigilantes who were outlawed years earlier and are either dead or in hiding.

Overall there are plenty of directions this new show could go in and lots of questions that remain unanswered. Will any other characters from the book make a return like Nite Owl or Silk Spectre? It remains to be seen what influence Doctor Manhattan will have in this version, as his god like existence on Mars will surely have an impact. I’m definitely interested to find out and sincerely hoping they don’t mess it up.

Luke Atkins

Insert Name Here

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A Tribute To Stan Lee

‘Devastated’ seems to be the only word I can think of right now that at least partly describes the way I’m feeling. I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of you. It’s a strange emotion when one of your heroes passes away, especially when you don’t know them personally and they’re probably unaware of your existence. But in some strange way you still feel a deep connection to them through their incredible contribution to your life. While the death of any influential person can be upsetting, I’ve never been hit quite so hard as I have with the passing of Stan Lee.

It’s a difficult feeling to express so I’ve decided to write something down that will hopefully act as a kind of therapy for myself and maybe even help someone reading this who is feeling something similar. With all that said I didn’t want to write a retelling of Stan Lee’s life story as you can find that in many other places (which I recommend you do) but I wanted to write a retelling of his influence on my life and what he means to me personally.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment I first became aware of Stan Lee’s work but it’s through the early Marvel cartoons and TV shows like Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and Incredible Hulk that I was first introduced to a lot of his characters. Growing up on the Isle Of Wight as a comic book fan could prove difficult. Back then I didn’t have access to awesome comic shops like ‘Fantastic Store’ and the Internet barely existed until I was older. Instead I would scour the shelves at the local newsagent in the hope of finding anything superhero related. Occasionally I would get lucky and manage to find a copy of ‘2000 AD’ or something similar. It wasn’t until Marvel began reprinting their various comics in to easily available collections that my obsession started. The first comic I remember regularly collecting was ‘The Exploits Of Spider-Man’ in the early 90’s.

This was my gateway in to the world of comics and to a larger extent my first glimpse in to an amazing new universe. After this there was no turning back for me and I started absorbing everything superhero related I could find. This was also where I first discovered Stan Lee’s unique and powerful writing style that has had a lasting impact on me and in many ways shaped the person I am today. More importantly, his beautifully crafted storytelling changed the face of the genre.

Stan Lee taught me that even though comics were entertaining action-packed escapism they could also be something more. They could be dramatic, emotional and sometimes even tragic. He humanised these larger than life characters and showed that the person underneath the mask was just as important as their superhuman persona. They could be flawed, make mistakes and face their own moral dilemmas. He showed that putting on a pair of tights and fighting crime doesn’t suddenly make all the personal struggles disappear. He taught me that at the end of the day, there is no escape from the difficulties of real life and that you have to keep going as best you can. That no matter how much you get knocked down the underdog can always rise up and face adversity. Of course, I have to mention that through Spider-Man, the lesson he drummed in to all of us over countless issues, cartoons and movies is that “With great power, comes great responsibility”.

That’s not to say that his stories were without a sense of fun and adventure. He created wonderous worlds for everyone to explore. I understand that he didn’t do all of this alone, there were many other writers and artists involved, but to me it always seemed like he was the driving force at the centre. Although I was an avid reader of Stan Lee’s work from a young age it wasn’t until watching a TV show called ‘The Marvel Action Hour’ that I really learned who he was. The show consisted of two animated episodes of Fantastic Four and Iron Man. Introducing each of these would be a short segment in which Stan Lee would talk directly to the audience. It was here that he would invite me in to these fantastical realms of action, suspense and excitement. I was enthralled in this universe by watching these shows, reading these comics, attempting to draw the characters and playing with the action figures. To say that these various things shaped my childhood is an understatement.

This early introduction to Stan Lee as a person as well as many other interviews and appearances over the years gave me a sense of who the man behind the writing was. While I’m not naïve enough to think that there wasn’t an element of promotion involved it never felt like a sales pitch or marketing. Instead he had this infectious enthusiasm for this universe he helped to create. There was always a genuine sense of wonder and joy that he shared with us all, whether through a TV screen, cinema screen or comic book page.

There’s so much more I could mention but I hope this helps to convey the mix of emotions that I, and I’m sure many of you are feeling right now. Maybe ‘devastated’ is a good word for it. Honestly, I don’t know that many people will ever read this, or you will find any comfort in my words. It has however, helped me to remember why Stan Lee’s creativity and ability to craft timeless tales was such an important factor in my life. Now I invite you to do the same, share your memories, stories, thoughts and feelings with us or each other, so that we can celebrate the legend and continue his legacy. ‘Nuff said.

Luke Atkins

Insert Name Here

Old Action Star Superheroes

So on episode 22, we were asked what 80’s or 90’s action stars would play which Superheroes in our ideal worlds. We went away to make a list, and a list was made.

Jean-Claude Van Damme as Wolverine

Kurt Russel as Punisher

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Thor

Chuck Norris as Captain America

Sylvester Stallone as Hulk

Steven Seagal as The Mandarin

Tom Selleck as Iron man

Carl Weathers as Nick Fury

Michael Dudikoff as Iron Fist

Bruce Willis as Professor X

Corey Haim as Spider-Man

Patrick Swayze as Daredevil

and finally, Eddie Murphy as Deadpool

Hope you enjoy browsing through the dopey images that Ron poorly made using Photoshop, he clearly has too much time on his hands…

Dan's dirty question.

On episode "0019 - Eat Cleaner with Derek and Tina" we answered a very bizarre question from a Hero, Dans. We said we'd throw up his email, so here it is. We're nothing if not reliable... Right? Enjoy.

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"Hi motherfunkers,

Long time listener, second time nutting in your knicker drawers.

Thank you for answering my question the other week about the Batman vs. Iron Man fight. I apologise for not pre-stating all the rules like: if they’d have access to vehicles and; what suits etc. How silly of me not to think of such things!

With that in mind, I have a new question for you.

...

Who would win in a fight? Three whiny podcast bitches in various states of health and ever changing haircuts, OR three tweens fresh from their first bleed and suffering from new booby pain?

PRECIOUS RULES: The whole fight is set in a gymnasium, doors locked and empty of all goods.

You guys can select one weapon each. So, who would have what? There is one regular broom with stiff bristles, one set of plastic hulk smash gloves and one pair of roller blades with actual blades on the front and back, and you’re all just in your pants.

The girlies are dressed in light armour that look like comfy pj’s but with no headgear, and have swirly-twirly used tampons, and an unlimited supply at that. However, as the fight begins they combine in to one huge pre-teen with the strength of three pre-teens, and really massive blob dirty cottons to luzz at you. But, she’s slow.

FIGHT!

And, good luck.

Peace. ”

... 

As you can tell by listening to the episode, we enjoyed the bizarreness of this question and had a giggle with it, we hope you did to. 

Thanks for looking, 

Insert Name Here.