If you’re only watching Watchmen on HBO, you’re not getting the full story.
Every week, HBO releases puts new material in the Peteypedia, a repository of Watchmen tie-ins available exclusively on the web. These prose pieces, which are written as if they’re part of the Watchmen universe, don’t just explain the HBO series’ connections to the original Watchmen comic. They also contain pieces of backstory that will probably come into play as the show goes on.
For example, one of the Peteypedia entries, “Rorschach’s Journal,” ties the new HBO series directly to the end of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ graphic novel and resolves the minor cliffhanger introduced on Watchmen‘s final page.
What is Rorscach’s journal?
Throughout the Watchmen comic, Rorschach, Watchmen‘s paranoid objectivist protagonist, keeps a detailed journal about his investigation into the Comedian’s killer. Actually, he keeps two. The police confiscate one after Adrian Veidt frames Rorschach for murder. Rorschach rescues another one from hiding after breaking out of prison.
As Rorschach prepares to confront Veidt, who he (correctly) deduces is behind Watchmen‘s overarching conspiracy, the vigilante writes his suspicions regarding Veidt’s in his second journal. Before the final showdown, Rorschach mails his journal to the New Frontiersman, his favorite right-wing newspaper.
Rorschach can’t stop Veidt, who decimates New York with a fake alien attack, uniting the world’s superpowers against an imaginary extraterrestrial threat. Rorschach ultimately dies at the hands of Dr. Manhattan. His journal, however, lives on. As Watchmen draws to a close, Rorschach’s journal sits on top of the New Frontiersman‘s slush pile, holding the key to unraveling Veidt’s entire scheme.
What happened to Rorschach’s journal in HBO’s Watchmen?
Rorschach’s journal has the power to completely upend the Watchmen universe. However, on the HBO show, that’s not what happened. According to the Peteypedia, the New Frontiersman ran excerpts from the journal along with a summary of its contents, and later published the journal in its entirety. The problem? The general public didn’t buy it.
Most people regarded The New Frontiersman as a little more than a tabloid, making any story it published immediately suspect. Its editor, Hector Godfrey, had a well-known grudge against Veidt. His allegations reeked of bias. Finally, Rorschach was clinically insane. Even if the journal was real — and Godfrey never proved it was — it was hard for people to take Rorschach at his word.
And so, instead of revealed Veidt for the mass murderer he is, Rorscach’s journal became the domain of conspiracy theorists and white supremacists. Ultra-conservatives hated Veidt, who was unabashedly liberal. The destruction of Manhattan sparked the “Blue Wave” that ushered Robert Redford into the Oval Office. Rorschach’s journal made both out to be fully illegitimate. That’s why the Seventh Kavalry wears Rorschach masks: They idolize the vigilante, and see his journal as proof that liberal democracy is a lie.
The Peteypedia is full of other fun tidbits. In Watchmen’s world, Vox editor Ezra Klein is Redford’s press secretary, and Elvis really did fake his own death. If you’re enjoying HBO’s show, it’s well worth your time.