|First appearance||Watchmen #1 (1986)|
|Created by||Alan Moore (story) and Dave Gibbons (art)|
|Alter ego||Edward Morgan Blake|
|Team affiliations||United States government|
The Comedian (Edward Morgan Blake) is a fictional character, a superhero/antihero featured in the acclaimed 1986 comic book series Watchmen, published by DC Comics. He was created by Watchmen writer Alan Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons, although, like all characters in the series, he was based on a Charlton Comics character, in this case Peacemaker, created by writer Joe Gill and artist Pat Boyette.
Events of Watchmen
The story of Watchmen starts with the aftermath of Edward Blake's murder in 1985. Fellow crimefighter Rorschach, independently investigating the murder, discovers that Blake was in fact the Comedian. The main plot of Watchmen initially involves Rorschach's suspicion of a plot to kill costumed heroes ("masks"); his continuing investigation into Blake's murder leads to a much larger, more horrifying secret. The Comedian appearances in Watchmen consist of flashbacks of the other characters, as well mentions in Under The Hood, the fictional autobiography of Hollis Mason (Nite Owl I) that appears in Watchmen issues 1-3.
The Comedian was a cigar-chomping, gun-toting vigilante-turned-paramilitary agent. When he first became a costumed adventurer in 1939, he dressed in a clown-like costume with a simple domino mask. A brutal vigilante, Blake manages to expunge most organized crime from the New York harbor. He became the youngest member of The Minutemen, a prominent group of heroes. After a photography shoot, he attempts to rape fellow Minuteman Silk Spectre; she escapes only when another Minuteman, Hooded Justice, interrupted the assault and beat Blake, breaking his nose. The Comedian was expelled from the group—but Silk Spectre's agent persuaded her not to press charges against him for fear of what it would do to the group's image. He impregnated Silk Spectre with her daughter and successor, Laurie, during a secret, consensual encounter years later. In the 1940s, Blake updated his Comedian uniform, after being stabbed by a small-time hood. He adopted a leather outfit that served as light body armor, adorned with short star-and-stripe-themed sleeves and a small happy face button. He retained the small domino mask and began carrying a pistol. He fought in World War II, becoming a war hero in the Pacific theater. It is also implied, but not directly stated, that he murdered Hooded Justice in revenge for the beating he suffered.
By the late 1960s, Blake had begun working as a covert government operative. Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl, had published his autobiography Under the Hood by this point and in it disclosed the Comedian's sexual assault on Sally Jupiter/Silk Spectre. In 1966, he was invited to join the Crimebusters by Captain Metropolis, but he quickly ruined the older hero's hopes of a new team by mocking him, and pointing out that old fashioned crime fighting methods would not save the world from nuclear war.
Alongside Doctor Manhattan, the Comedian played a major role in the United States' war with Vietnam. Shortly after Manhattan's godlike powers forced the North Vietnamese to surrender, Blake was confronted by his lover, a pregnant Vietnamese woman; she is referred to as "Liao Lin" in David Hayter's Watchmen draft. He told her bluntly that he planned to leave the country immediately without her, and in a rage she slashed his face with a broken bottle. Blake shot and killed her, but the attack left his face permanently disfigured with a scar running from his right eye to the corner of his mouth. After this incident, he began wearing a leather gimp-style mask when dressed as the Comedian.
The costumed adventurers faced massive backlash and rioting in 1977; in response, Congress passed the Keene Act, requiring all heroes to register with the government if they wished to remain active. The majority of them "retired" in anonymity; while others, such as Rorschach, continued their activities in open defiance of the law. Doctor Manhattan and The Comedian were two of the few who registered and were employed by the government. Blake enjoyed his new role in the government and the protection it offered, even going so far as to suggest to members of President Nixon's staff that he had killed Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein before they could reveal the details of the Watergate scandal, as well as being behind the execution of John F. Kennedy (on Nixon's orders). The Iran hostage crisis in 1980 was resolved when Blake freed the captives after an assault.
It was during his return from a government mission that Blake discovered the island where Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) was conducting his experiments that would ultimately destroy New York City. Shocked and appalled by what he finds, Blake realizes that no one will believe him if he reveals Veidt's plan. Veidt, to ensure that Blake does not compromise his operation, confronts Blake in his high-rise apartment and throws Blake out of the window, killing him.
In Before Watchmen: The Minutemen #1, additional details are revealed about Comedian while material from the main story is somewhat retconned. It is revealed that the Comedian got his start as a costumed adventurer at the young age of sixteen and had a prior criminal record for assault. Unlike the rest of the costumed heroes of the Minutemen, he is shown to be driven by greed and an inherent love for violence. In particular, he assaults a bartender after breaking up a bar fight and steals liquor and money from the cash register. The issue also implies Blake may have been a victim of severe child abuse as he claims that a "caseworker" told him what he suffered was the cause of his violent outbursts, though Blake's status as an unreliable narrator makes the claim uncertain.
Before Watchmen: Comedian #1 rewrites the character's back-story further. It is revealed that Blake was close personal friends with Robert Kennedy and John F. Kennedy as well as Jackie Kennedy. This contradicts the main Watchmen series, which cast Edward Blake as a close personal friend of Richard Nixon (for whom he had worked as an assassin). The mini-series reveals that Blake was responsible for the murder of Marilyn Monroe (ordered by Jackie Kennedy, behind her husband's back) as well as revealing that, despite strong innuendo from both Blake and Ozymandias, that he did not kill John Kennedy and was attempting to confront Moloch when he found the villain watching the live coverage of the assassination, including Kennedy's death, which caused the two foes to commiserate in their grief.
Events of Doomsday Clock
In the sequel "Doomsday Clock," Comedian turns up alive when he confronts Ozymandias at the time when he was in the DC Universe meeting with Lex Luthor. It turned out that Comedian survived his fall from his apartment window and washes ashore outside the city where he is greeted by Doctor Manhattan. Comedian continues on the trail of Mime and Marionette. Comedian catches up to Joker, Mime, and Marionette when they attend an underground villain meeting held by Riddler to discuss the Superman Theory. He makes himself known by shooting Typhoon in the face. While pursuing them, he evades Giganta's attacks, shoots Riddler in the leg, and uses a grenade to defeat the other villains present. When Mime and Marionette are in bed together the next morning, Comedian catches up to them where he plans to use them to find Ozymandias. Before Comedian can do anything, Joker comes to Mime and Marionette's rescue where he uses a joy buzzer on Comedian. As Batman gets free and fights Joker, Mime and Marionette escape with Comedian and the Lantern Battery.
Character inspiration and origin of name
Alan Moore has stated that The Comedian was mostly based on G. Gordon Liddy, a former FBI agent, lawyer, talk show host, actor, and figure in the Watergate scandal as the chief operative in the White House Plumbers unit during the Nixon Administration. Liddy was convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and illegal wiretapping for his role in the scandal.
In the comic, Rorschach explains that Blake's moniker of "The Comedian" stems from his cynical and arguably selfish world perspective that "in an insane world", one can only laugh, as if everything is "a joke".
Powers and abilities
The Comedian was a skilled hand-to-hand combatant in excellent physical condition, even at the time of his death at the age of 61. Blake was proficient with his M1911 .45 caliber pistol, MAC-10 submachine gun and pump-action shotgun, and was shown using a variety of conventional weaponry in his adventures (flamethrowers, grenade launchers, etc.). His government-sanctioned activities suggest that he received training in covert operations and unconventional warfare.
The smiley face badge
Throughout the work, the Comedian is typically seen wearing or in close proximity to the "smiley face" button which is closely associated with him, and has become the iconic symbol of the Watchmen series as a whole. At the beginning of the series, the button is smeared with a single drop of blood which, if the button is viewed as a clock face, is at the position of the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock at the time of the series, five minutes to midnight.
In other media
Jeffrey Dean Morgan portrays the character in the film based upon the series. Morgan commented on the brutality of The Comedian's character, and implied that the scene involving the murder of the Vietnamese woman would be included in the movie, as he does appear to have gained his facial scar due to the event. However, the scar does not connect to his mouth in the film, taking away the visually symbolic "smile" present in the comics. Prior to Morgan being cast, Ron Perlman, Dennis Farina, Mel Gibson, and Gary Busey were considered for the role. In David Hayter's Watchmen script draft The Comedian was born in 1944 and he dies in 2005.
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- Before Watchmen: Minuteman #2. DC Comics.
- Hayter, David. WATCHMEN --3rd draft--. September 26, 2003. Accessed on December 8, 2008. 21.
- Before Watchmen: Comedian #2. DC Comics.
- Watchmen #4. DC Comics.
- Watchmen #1. DC Comics.
- Watchmen #11. DC Comics.
- Before Watchmen: The Minutemen #1. DC Comics.
- Watchmen #10, 12
- Before Watchmen: The Comedian #1. DC Comics.
- Doomsday Clock #2 (December 2017). DC Comics.
- Doomsday Clock #3 (January 2018). DC Comics.
- Doomsday Clock #5 (May 2018). DC Comics.
- Doomsday Clock #6 (July 2018). DC Comics.
- Doomsday Clock #7 (September 2018). DC Comics.
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- Michael Newton (2003). The FBI Encyclopedia. McFarland. p. 196. ISBN 978-0-7864-1718-6.
- Watchmen Cast Confirmed!" superherohype.com; Hollywood Reporter; July 26, 2007
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