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It would be a stronger world, a stronger loving world, to die in.
— John Cale, "Sanities"

A Stronger Loving World is the twelfth and the final chapter in the twelfth chapter series Watchmen, written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons. It was released on October 1987.

Plot

New York City is strewn with corpses and dead bodies. Massive tentacles rope through streets and buildings, connected to a huge, dead, squid-like monsterJon Osterman and Laurie Juspeczyk teleport into the middle of the carnage and see all of the corpses. Osterman theorizes on the science of it, guessing that someone is generating “tachyons,” which inhibit his ability to know the future. Juspeczyk reflects on how sad it is that so many people died while simply living their lives, buying Indian food or walking around. Jon senses that the tachyons are coming from Antarctica, and Laurie just wants to leave the city, so they teleport away.

Meanwhile in Karnak, Dan Dreiberg tells Adrian Veidt that he doesn’t believe that he actually carried out his plan. Veidt insists that he did and jokes that he can even catch bullets. Rorschach believes Veidt and asks him to send Bubastis away so they can fight to the death. Veidt ignores Rorschach and explains to Dan that the monster’s brain was the key. He found a psychic named Robert Deschaines, whose brain amplified and projected thought waves. His scientists then cloned the psychic’s brain and loaded it with images and descriptions of alien worlds created by Max Shea and Hira Manish. When the creature teleported into New York, those not killed by the blast had their brains flooded with visions of an alien world. On one of his screens, Veidt sees that Jon and Laurie have arrived.

Jon realizes that Veidt has been using tachyons to disrupt Jon’s ability to see the future. He walks into Veidt’s fortress, passing Rorschach, but feels “drugged” and confused by the tachyon swirl. Veidt hides, but Jon sees Bubastis standing in some sort of machine labeled “intrinsic field subtractor,” and approaches the cat. Hiding behind a wall, Veidt activates the machine and disintegrates both Jon and Bubastis. Laurie appears and shoots a handgun at Veidt, but he leaps backward and catches the bullet in his palm, spurting blood from his hand but otherwise unharmed. The action stuns Laurie, and Veidt kicks her aside.

Veidt stands and begins to announce his victory, but Osterman's massive arm smashes through the wall. Osterman announces that he can reconstruct himself at will, just as Doctor Manhattan reformed after the original Jon Osterman was disintegrated. He announces that he will crush Veidt, but Veidt turns his wall of TV screens to the news. Most of the news reporters are grappling with the horror of the attack, but several report that the United States and the Soviet Union are both laying down their arms and declaring an immediate truce.

Veidt raises his arms in the air and declares, “I did it!” He announces that he fulfilled Rameses’s ambitions and will move on to helping human society rebuild. Laurie says they must bring him to justice, but Veidt explains that if they reveal his plot, everyone will know there is no alien threat, the world will return to war, and those millions will have died for nothing. Veidt asks everyone else to accept the “compromise” for the good of humanity. This horrifies Jon, Laurie, and Dan, but they accept that Veidt is right. However, Rorschach refuses to compromise, “even in the face of Armageddon.” Rorschach leaves, intent on revealing Veidt’s plan to the world despite everyone else’s objections. Veidt tells Dan and Laurie to make themselves “at home.” Jon disappears.

Dan and Laurie walk to a quiet, luxurious indoor pool in Veidt’s fortress. Laurie feels confused after what she learned on Mars and all the carnage in New York. Dan worries about whether Jon cares that he and Laurie are together. Laurie tells him it doesn’t matter. They have the opportunity to live and argue and eat Indian food and love each other. Life is “so damn sweet” and they should love each other, because they are alive and they can. They kiss.

Jon confronts Rorschach as he walks through the snow, back to the airship to return to America. Jon tells Rorschach he cannot allow him to reveal Veidt’s actions. Rorschach understands why Jon feels this way and tells him to go ahead and kill him. He pulls off his mask, revealing Walter Kovac’s face, tears streaming from his eyes. Jon points his arm out and makes Walter explode.

Jon walks back into the fortress, past Laurie and Dan sleeping naked together by the pool, and up to where Adrian sits, meditating. Veidt justifies his actions and hopes Jon will help him build a new utopia on earth, but Jon states that he would like to create life himself on a new planet. As Jon begins to leave, Veidt asks him if he “did the right thing” since it all “worked out in the end.” Jon tells him, “Nothing ever ends,” and disappears.

At Christmas, Dan and Laurie visit Sally Jupiter in California. They’ve both changed their appearances and taken the aliases Sam and Linda Hollis. They briefly exchange gifts and Laurie tells her mother that she knows the Comedian was her father. Sally breaks down and apologizes, but Laurie forgives her and tells her that life is strange and unpredictable. As they leave, Dan and Laurie chat about taking up their hero identities again, but Laurie wants to wear a leather mask and carry a gun. Alone in her home, Sally kisses a framed photo of the Comedian and sobs.

In the New Frontiersman office, Seymour and Hector Godfrey work on another issue. Godfrey is bitter that the U.S. and Russia are on good terms and that Russian language is seeping into American culture. Their new issue needs a filler piece, so Godfrey tells Seymour to pick whatever he wants from the “crank file.” Seymour’s hand hovers over a pile of articles and pamphlets, amongst which is Rorschach’s journal.

Trivia

  • Adrian Veidt built an Intrinsic Field Separator for the sole purpose of dealing with Dr. Manhattan physically (by recreating the accident that initially destroyed him) should the Tachyon Generators fail to keep him occupied. While it technically does do its job, Adrian doesn't factor in that if Dr. Manhattan was able to rebuild himself from scratch after being disintegrated in the first place. As a disappointed Dr. Manhattan spells out to him immediately after regenerating, that was remarkably shortsighted for someone as intelligent as him.
  • Adrian Veidt quotes the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II "Canaan is devastated, Ashkelon is fallen, Gezer is ruined, Yenoam is reduced to nothing...Israel is desolate and her seed is no more, and Palestine has become a widow for Egypt...All the countries are unified and pacified." The Annotated Edition points out that the Merneptah Stele hieroglyphics from 1203 B.C.E., which this quote stems from, was done at the behest of Pharoah Merneptah (to celebrate the victory of a major invasion he had successfully repelled) who ruled Egypt immediately after Ramesses II, so Adrian is technically incorrect in his quotation, though not disingenuous since surely some of the aforementioned pacification was Ramesses' doing. However, Dave Gibbons suggests in the same anecdote that Adrian simply made a mistake due to the mental stress from all that had just happened (flying to the Antarctic, killing millions of people, catching a bullet, etc.)
  • Adrian Veidt's whole role in the story is sort of ironic. He goes through all this trouble to create a fake alien monster and use it to kill millions in order to force the world's powers to see how utterly meaningless fighting each other is when there are "much bigger things" at risk. But in the end, he finds himself full of doubt as to whether or not his actions really would have the effect he wished for, and the very last panel of the story gives a vague implication that all of his efforts will be for naught anyway.
  • Near the end of issue 12, an issue of the New York Gazette features the headline: “RR TO RUN IN ’88?” In real life, Ronald Reagan served as president of the United States from 1981 to 1989, so it's initially believed that RR is referencing Reagan. However, back in the New Frontiersman office, Seymour reveals that RR is not Ronald Reagan but Robert Redford. When Seymour suggests writing a piece about him, Hector Godfrey shoots down the idea, saying, “Who wants a cowboy in the White House?”. This is not only a reference to Redford's 1968 film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but it's a subtle jab at Reagan, who like Redford, had a career in Hollywood before he began his political career.
  • In the end, the results of Adrian Veidt's schemes have gone the way he'd planned them to go. Earth's leaders are now collaborating to better keep the world safe from the threat of war. But in the end, this peace is on a very shaky foundation that can easily be shattered by the notes written in Rorschach's journal — the "stronger loving world" that Adrian has created is still standing on the precipice of the apocalypse. In short, his efforts may very well be rendered meaningless due to forces outside his control. This parallels the ultimate fragility of the Rameses' great achievements as described in Percy Bysshe Shelley's sonnet "Ozymandias", in which he believed would be memorialized eternally, only to instead be buried under the desert dunes and forgotten by the passage of time.

Watchmen Chapters
Chapter I: At Midnight, All the Agents...Chapter II: Absent FriendsChapter III: The Judge of All the EarthChapter IV: WatchmakerChapter V: Fearful SymmetryChapter VI: The Abyss Gazes AlsoChapter VII: A Brother to DragonsChapter VIII: Old GhostsChapter IX: The Darkness of Mere BeingChapter X: Two Riders Were Approaching...Chapter XI: Look On My Works, Ye MightyChapter XII: A Stronger Loving World
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