11 April 2011
Welcome to the Costume Party
The beginning of Alan Moore's Watchmen begins with the young personal life of narrator Hollis Mason. Mason describes how Denise, who works on a corner grocery store, is a very good writer and explains to her his trouble of not knowing how to write a book. Her response is "start with the saddest thing you can think of and get the audience's sympathy" (1). Mason takes her advise and begins his story with Moe Vernon and "The Ride of the Valkyries." Moe Vernon was the man Mason's dad worked for, who owned a car repair shop named "Vernon's Auto Repairs." Hollis Mason at this time is age twelve living in Montana with his family. Mason would often help his dad while working and grew fond of Mr. Vernon. Mason described Mr. Vernon as a New York faced man with three chins around the age fifty. Vernon loved opera. He also loved strange toys, owned a large collection of novels, and had a weird sense of humor. One day while Mr. Vernon and his staff are at work, he decides to put on a set of artificial women's bosoms. This explains his weird sense of humor. While getting ready to make his crew laugh, Mr. Vernon opens a letter from his wife. His wife writes that she has been having a two year affair with Vernon's most trusted mechanic, Fred Motz. At this time, Motz is not at work, and Vernon's wife has taken all the money out of their shared bank account to depart to Tijuana with Fred Motz. This upsets Mr. Vernon and he bursts out of his office with his fake bosoms still on throwing the novel "The Ride of the Valkyries" while screaming words of disgust. The crew thinks this is a joke, and burst into laughter. Later that night, Vernon runs a tube from his exhaust to his car window, killing himself. This is the sad story Hollis Mason gets our attention with. The story fast forwards to 1939, where Hollis Mason is twenty three years old, and has taken a job with the New York City police force. Mason explains is decision why he became a cop by telling us the things he has seen including rapists, pimps, and rude landlords. Mason wants to help people, and fight crime. With life being unfair, Mason turns to comics. Mason likes comics because the good always triumph over evil. Mason wishes he could be a superhero, until his dreams come true when he reads of a real life superhero named "Hooded Justice." This opens the door for Hollis Mason's identity as the "Nite Owl." Mason gets the name "Nite Owl" from a mutual cop who periodically asked him to go to the bar. Mason repeatedly turned him down to go to bed early to work out in the morning. Out of sarcasm, the cop calls him the "Nite Owl." After describing how he got his name, Mason describes how he made his costume. Mason starts to fight crime and discovers others who are doing the same such as "Silhouette" and "Captain Metropolis." This is a good time for Mason. All these masked adventurers eventually agree to form an alliance known as the "Minutemen." At this time, the year is 1939, and things are still on the upside. The alliance is great, but things begin to fall apart. In 1940, one of the members named the "Comedian" is accused of attempting to sexually assault another member. Along with this incident, other things go wrong. The group finally broke up in 1949. Mason blames the fact that villains were now pursuing other crimes that did not involve the help of masked adventurers to his and other adventurers downfall. With this sad ending to his career, there is an upside.New superheros came alive in the 1950's. With Mason's retirement, a young man asked Mason if he could obtain the name "Nite Owl" at keep his legend alive. Mason explains that "The superhero has become part of American life" (14). He believes that there will always be superheros as long as there is crime to fight. I really enjoyed this reading. This was a new twist to the comics we have been reading in class. The book explained the story of a normal person, trying to be a superhero. I thought that was pretty cool and the reading was interesting. The way this book is written makes you think that something like this can really happen. I would like to read more of this.