|— Genesis chapter 18, verse 25|
This chapter revolves around the exile of Doctor Manhattan and his relationship with Janey Slater and Laurie Juspeczyk who starts to spend time with Dan Dreiberg. The main theme is the risen fear of nuclear war that spread across the city of New York.
- Jon Osterman/Doctor Manhattan
- Silk Spectre II/Laurie Juspeczyk
- Nite Owl II/Dan Dreiberg
- Walter Kovacs/Rorschach
- Richard Nixon
- Henry Kissinger
- Nite Owl I/Hollis Mason
- Doug Roth
- Janey Slater
- Benny Anger
- Tina Price
- Jim Weiss
This issue starts with Bernard the news vendor, handing a copy of the New Frontiersman to Walter Kovacs, who informs him that the world would end that day. "Today for certain. You'll keep my paper for me tomorrow?" The main story of course though is about Jon Osterman. He is having problems in his relationship with Laurie Juspeczyk when he multiplies himself and she finds out that 'one of him' had been working while she was being romantic with another, so she walked out on him, going to meet up with Dan Dreiberg.
Janey Slater gave an interview with Doug Roth, an editor with Nova Express. She informs him that she has cancer that she presumably received through connection with Osterman. Meanwhile, Manhattan gets dressed and transports from his home to his interview where he meets up with a man named Forbes telling him what to, and what not to say. The first question is, of course, a product of what he can't say, about his involvement with the Russians in Afghanistan. Then, one of the editors of Nova Express named Doug Roth asks about Wally Weaver, Edgar Jacobi and Janey Slater, and if he knew that all of them had a fatal form of cancer, among others. Forbes quickly intervened and stopped the interview, but while they were leaving he became overwhelmed by questions, "I said leave me alone!" and transported everyone outside of the building.
Meanwhile, Laurie met up with Dreiberg who gave her some coffee and they talked about her troublesome relationship and where she will stay that night. She decided on a hotel and walked him to Hollis Mason's place, but while walking through an alleyway they were almost mugged by a group of knot-tops. With a complete switch of mood and personality they take out the entire group savagely and then stop for a breath. Leaving the alleyway, Laurie decides to go find a hotel and to leave Dreiberg alone. Dreiberg runs into Hollis who shows him the big interview of Manhattan's incident on television.
Osterman goes back to his home to find out that it is being quarantined and decides that he was leaving, telling the painter to leave a message for Laurie and his superiors. He said he was going to New Mexico, and then Mars. He went to the Gila Flats test base in New Mexico, where he took a picture of himself and Janey Slater many years ago at a carnival. In Mars he explores in a childish excitement and then finds a rock to sit on. Laurie Juspeczyk goes back to the base to find that everything was being taken away, and she is ordered to undergo a cancer scan. Agent Forbes told her that she is no longer welcome there, since they believe that Manhattan is not coming back.
Near the end of the issue, on the next day, Walter Kovacs buys a New Frontiersman and a copy of the New York Gazette from Bernard who starts, "I see the world didn't end yesterday." Kovacs replies, "Are you sure?" He gives the copy of the Gazette to Dreiberg, and it reads "Dr. Manhattan leaves Earth", after of course breaking his brand new lock from the Gordian Knot Lock Co.. That night Bernard receives the evening edition, letting Bernie take the copy of Tales of the Black Freighter for free, and even his cap. The headline he read was "Russians invade Afghanistan".
- New York City, New York
- New Mexico
The trefoil symbol represents nuclear radioactivity. Its main purpose to the theme of this issue is its representation of the fear a lot of the country felt during the Cold War, in which it was expected that a nuclear war was nigh at any moment. On the cover of the issue, there is a trefoil symbol on a Fallout Shelter sign that's hanging on a building near Bernard's newsstand. Later one is put on the door of Jon Osterman's room, above Danger Quarantine Area, and then on every canister that removes Laurie Juspeczyk's things from her room in the Rockefeller Military Research Center. The original Fallout Shelter sign is visible in the panel after Bernard reads the Gazette's headline on the 20th of October that reads "Russians Invade Afghanistan". While Nixon witnesses a simulation of the United States being attacked he sees trefoil symbols all across the southeast and east coast where the devastation seemed most prominent.
"Who Watches the Watchmen?" was a phrase set about before the Keene Act was set in place, which describes the public anger toward the costumed vigilantes at the time. It was spray-painted on walls across the city, and in this chapter, one can be seen where Dan Dreiberg and Laurie Juspeczyk enter an alleyway at night, where a gang of knot-tops follow with knives intending to mug them. The irony, of course, is that they don't need to be watched, and they get stuck in a tight corner where they battle there way out.
Pale Horse is a supposed band in the Watchmen reality, and their title derives from the story in the Bible, Revelations vi, 7-8, "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."
Like the graffiti of "Who Watches the Watchmen?", outside the alleyway is one of their posters, and another inside, advertising their appearance at Madison Square Garden and used as a symbol for the bringers of Death. Again there is graffiti for them as Dreiberg enters Hollis Mason's repair shop.
Following tradition, the Doomsday Clock on the last page of the issue stands now at 11:51. The blood from the previous issue now is wider, having a larger and more noticeable spread.
Other graffiti are anarchy symbols and "Castrate rapists" which is under a female sign with claws in the circle. On the street there is a large poster that advertises the New Frontiersman, saying "In your hearts, you know it's right." Graffiti after it adds "Wing". Early on Laurie and Dreiberg walk by a sign for the Utopia Cinema that is showing This Island Earth, which has a Martian in the movie that decides to help the Earthlings from their planet being destroyed, definitely a play on this issue's main dilemmas.
Released with the third issue was the fifth chapter of Under the Hood, the autobiography of Hollis Mason, the first Nite Owl and one of the first masked adventurers. Showing us Mason's perspective of the future, Alan Moore likely purposed this chapter to give a sense of irony, while these characters were disappearing, you are just now reading of their introductions.
Chapter V explains the worst times of the remaining costumed vigilantes, with the absence of villains and retirement of other members. He ponders the identity of Hooded Justice for a good deal of time but expresses amazement at the arrival of Doctor Manhattan. All in all the chapter finishes with Mason's look at the future of adventuring and even of the world.