Sunday, August 23, 2009

WATCHMEN: THE TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER

“And the ship, The Black Freighter disappears out to see
And on it is me”-
THE THREEPENNY OPERA


In classic EC fashion, this terrifying tale of a young sailor who survives a pirate attack is a morality play concerning justice tainted with wicked and despicable acts…and whose outcome is damning. Alan Moore’s prose is homage to both Bertolt Brecht and Bill Gaines, while delivering an allegory concerning the larger WATCHMEN universe. As the sailor becomes drunk with madness to save his family, he ultimately destroys that which he loves the most. A vile lesson that the means do not justify the ends; he becomes that which he despises the most, haunting the ghastly Black freighter for all eternity. The parallel is Adrian Veidt, whose grand scheme is to murder millions of people to save the world from nuclear holocaust but his lie cannot remain undiscovered forever. The beautifully rendered animation haunts the screen with bloated and saturated imagery as the sea murmurs its nightmarish lullaby to the sleeping dead. Veidt’s psychotic rationale has corrupted his logic and turned him into the greatest mass murder in history: he has become, like the sailor, the very thing he once abhorred. Now all powerful, who watches the Watchmen? (B)

WATCHMEN: UNDER THE HOOD This mockumentary is based upon Hollis Mason’s autobiography, which appears throughout the WATCHMEN graphic novel, revealing key insights and humor into deconstructing the myth of the super-hero. The Culpeper Report is done as a 70’s talk show, with collars displaying raptor-like wingspans, vibrant orange colors, and tweed jackets creating the illusion of a vintage TV program, filmed in a washed out and speckled fashion (digitally altered for effect) to help delineate its time period. The original Night Owl speaks candidly about his obsession with becoming a masked avenger, substituting vigilante justice for his police duty. Minor plot points are discussed during the interviews that shed light upon the WATCHMEN universe: from Silk Spectre and her pregnancy, to the human that still haunts the psychology of the eerie Dr. Manhattan. We see faux stock footage of Mothman, Dollar Bill, Comedian and Hooded Justice, adding a jaundiced credibility to a world on the brink of disaster…not too different from our own. We hear from the local bartender who complains that ‘The Masks” are always busting up his place to the newsvendor who believes that the super-heroes are generally good people who got a raw deal with the Keene Act, a polemic towards McCarthyism and its diabolical disease. As the Cold War heats up, those who hold power against the government are brought down to earth…or off to Mars. (B)

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