Plot Summary

Watchmen, Issue 9

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Watchmen No. 9

The Darkness of Mere Being

Release Date: May 1987

Dr. Manhattan and Laurie have just teleported to Mars. He uses his powers to keep her breathing and then escorts her into his crystal palace.

Dr. Manhattan’s “clairvoyant” abilities begin to frustrate Laurie as he seems to already know what the entire conversation will be about. He tries to explain to her the nuance of time by asking her about her earliest memory.

She recounts a time when she was five and overheard her parents arguing over one of her mother’s affairs. When her step-father catches her close by, he yells at her and sends her to bed.

She pleads with Jon to end their pointless conversation and come back to earth to help save humanity from Armageddon. Jon states that the end of the world will mean the end of human suffering, so why would he want to stop it?

The second flashback involves Laurie at a “mask” get together at her mother’s house, where as a teenager she witnesses Byron Lewis aka Mothman have a mental breakdown. She asks her mother if that’s what she has to look forward to when she becomes a costumed hero.

As the two argue more about the value of human life, we see a third flashback to the first Crimebusters meeting where The Comedian points out the futility of such an organization. Her brief flirtatious encounter with Blake is brought to an abrupt halt when Sally pulls her away from him and forbids Laurie to ever speak with him again.

Jon tells her that the marvelous landscape of Mars is, by far, more incredible than the human condition, when there is another flashback to a party, in Edward Blake’s honor, where a drunken Laurie throws a drink in Blake’s face for the attempted rape of her mother years ago.

Dr. Manhattan's Crysal Palace lies in ruin

Jon explains that he understands his scientific approach doesn’t help him to understand human existence, however, it is Laurie’s emotions that are blinding her to see his viewpoint.

Laurie becomes more emotional and Jon accuses her of avoiding something. As she comes to the realization that The Comedian is her real father, Laurie bursts into a fit of rage and throws a perfume bottle which shatters the crystal palace.

As the palace collapses around them, Jon uses his powers to erect a shield to protect them from the debris. When Laurie states that her life is a joke and meaningless, Jon surprisingly disagrees. He rationalizes that if Laurie can be the product of such an outrageous set of chaotic and improbable circumstances, then her existence is, as he describes, a “thermodynamic miracle.” And if her birth was a “miracle” then so could be any other birth in the world. He points out that since the world is so full of people, that miracles would become commonplace, and its vast improbability would become easy to forget.

Jon then tells Laurie they will go back to earth.

Closing Quotation: “As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.” - C.G. Jung, from Memories, Dreams, Reflections

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