Silk Spectre being held by Doctor Manhattan
Art by Adam Hughes
|First appearance||Watchmen #1 (September 1986)|
|Created by||Alan Moore|
|Alter ego||Sally Jupiter (I)|
Laurie Juspeczyk (II)
|Team affiliations||Minutemen (I)|
The Crimebusters (II)
Silk Spectre is the name shared by a mother and daughter fictional superheroine pair who are central characters in the 1986–87 comic book limited series Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. In the early stages of the series' development, the characters were Charlton Comics superheroes and the female superhero was supposed to be Nightshade. However, Moore did not find Nightshade particularly interesting and was not even very familiar with the character. After the idea of using Charlton characters was abandoned, he decided to model Silk Spectre on superheroines like Phantom Lady and Black Canary (also an alias shared by mother and daughter). At the beginning of Watchmen, the second Silk Spectre is in a relationship with Doctor Manhattan, as Nightshade was involved with Captain Atom, on whom Doctor Manhattan was based.
The Laurie Juspeczyk version of Silk Spectre made her first live-action appearance in the 2009 film Watchmen played by Malin Åkerman. The Sally Jupiter version also appeared as the mother of Laurie played by Carla Gugino. An older version of the Laurie Juspeczyk version, now known as Laurie Blake, appeared in the 2019 limited television series Watchmen played by Jean Smart.
Fictional character history
The first Silk Spectre was the frizzy-haired, redheaded former waitress and burlesque dancer Sally Jupiter (her real last name was Juspeczyk, which she changed to hide her Polish ancestry). She assumed the identity of Silk Spectre sometime around 1938 at age 18, in order to advance her modeling career. She became a sex symbol by whom criminals didn't mind being caught (or so went her press). She was an action heroine version of a pin-up girl and, even in her old age, she was proud of her sex symbol status, apparently enjoying male attention, as indicated by her reaction to lurid fan letters and her enjoyment of a Tijuana bible based on her (much to her daughter's disapproval).
She was soon invited by Captain Metropolis to join The Minutemen, a group of costumed heroes. On October 2, 1940, after a meeting of the Minutemen, Edward Blake, alias The Comedian tried to rape her. He was thwarted in his attempt by fellow Minuteman Hooded Justice, who gave him a vicious beating. The event would have a profound impact on Sally's life. Her agent, Laurence Schexnayder, persuaded her not to press charges against the Comedian for fear of damaging the group's image. More celebrity than vigilante, Silk Spectre provided a cover for Hooded Justice's homosexuality by being his glamorous girlfriend. In an interview, she admitted that she didn't really like The Silhouette, a.k.a. Ursula Zandt, who had often pestered her about her Polish heritage, but later expressed regret that she was expelled from the group simply because she was a lesbian, especially since there were men on the team who were gay (though she did not identify them). In 1947, Sally retired from crime-fighting and married her agent, Laurence Schexnayder, while keeping in touch with Hollis Mason (The Nite Owl) and Nelson Gardner (Captain Metropolis). In 1949, she gave birth to daughter Lauriel Jane Juspeczyk, commonly known as Laurie. It was known to both parents that Laurie was not Laurence's child, but The Comedian's, from a sexual encounter years after the assault, and this caused conflict in the family, leading the couple to divorce in 1956. While not explicitly stated, it is implied that Sally's second sexual encounter with The Comedian was consensual, and that, despite his earlier attack on her, she did have feelings for him.
In the pages of Doomsday Clock, it was revealed that Ozymandias spoke at her funeral. While in an asylum, Reggie Long was taught some of Sally's moves by fellow inmate Mothman where they both heard of her death.
Sally pushed her daughter into the "family business of crimefighting." Laurel Jane "Laurie" Juspeczyk never held much interest in becoming her mother's successor, but went along with Sally's wishes anyway. Growing up, the brunette Laurie knew Laurence Schexnayder was not her real father, and she always believed, incorrectly, that her real father was Hooded Justice. Laurie Juspeczyk is a liberal-thinking, modern woman. She is vocal in her feminist and humanitarian concerns, and is quite a conditioned fighter. At the start of the story she is shown to have a strained relationship with her mother. Driven by the memories of her own experience, Sally tries to keep Laurie from knowing some of the harsher realities of the crime fighting life. For example, she did not allow her to read the Hollis Mason (Nite-Owl I) autobiography Under the Hood (which included mention of The Comedian's sexual assault on Sally, something Laurie knew nothing of). Sally acted like an agent for her daughter, picking out her costume, and chauffeuring her to "Crimebusters" meetings. After the first of these meetings, Laurie met The Comedian outside, who complimented her for being the spitting image of her mother, but their conversation was broken off quickly by an angry Sally Jupiter. Laurie noted that the Comedian looked sad as he watched them drive away, and felt sorry for him. When Laurie later learned of the sexual assault, she hated The Comedian, though it seems that as time passed, and in a complicated way, Sally was able to come to terms with it, even to the point that she was willing to defend The Comedian from Laurie's derogatory remarks after he was murdered. At the same Crimebuster's meeting, Laurie met Doctor Manhattan, and the two quickly became attracted to one another, to his long-time girlfriend Janey Slater's anger. Shortly afterwards, 16-year-old Laurie became involved with thirty-something Doctor Manhattan, something her mother did not approve of, likening Laurie's relationship with Manhattan to being the equivalent of sleeping with an H-bomb. Drawn to him from the moment she first saw him, Laurie worked with Doctor Manhattan in some of his various domestic assignments, including the suppression of riots during the police strike of 1977. Never exactly happy being a vigilante and not happy with the government taking advantage with her relationship with the superhuman Manhattan, Laurie was more than pleased to quit being a superhero when the Keene Act of 1977 forced all but government-sponsored superheroes to retire.
Events of Watchmen
After retiring, Laurie lived with Manhattan for almost 20 years. However, their relationship became strained, owing to Manhattan's growing disconnection with humanity. Laurie eventually left him and moved in with Dan Dreiberg, a.k.a. the second Nite Owl, and the two soon became romantically involved. Dreiberg and Laurie decided to don their old costumes and take Dreiberg's airship Archie out. During their flight, they found a building on fire and rescued the inhabitants. Soon after, Laurie was brought to Mars by Dr. Manhattan, where she attempted to convince him to save humanity from impending nuclear war. During their conversation, Laurie finally came to the realization that her real father was The Comedian. Moved by the sheer unlikelihood of two people as different as Sally Jupiter and the Comedian producing a child, and the child being Laurie, Dr. Manhattan realized the miracle and value of human life and agreed to save the planet. The pair returned to earth, only to find half of New York City destroyed by Ozymandias' creature. They then teleport to Ozymandias' lair in Antarctica, where Laurie attempts to shoot Ozymandias, only to be thwarted by Ozymandias' untried ability to catch bullets. After realizing that Ozymandias' plan had worked, and that, despite the loss of several million lives, nuclear war had been averted while also uniting the nations of the world, the heroes (with the exception of Rorschach) decide that Ozymandias' plan should be kept secret to serve the greater good.
Shortly after these events, Laurie and Dan Drieberg adopt new appearances and identities, now calling themselves Sam and Sandra Hollis, and sporting blond hair. They visit Sally Jupiter—now living in a retirement home—and Laurie tells her mother that she has realized the truth about her father. The issue is put to rest for Laurie, who accepts that the situation between her mother and the Comedian is too complicated, and she forgives her. "Sam and Sandra" leave soon afterward, indicating that they will continue to adventure, although Laurie expresses the wish for a better superhero identity: leather for better protection, a mask to hide her identity, and a firearm to better fight. This parallels her father's, the Comedian, change from a gaudy yellow clown suit to light leather armor with a mask to cover his scar and a variety of guns. After watching them leave, Sally picks up an old photograph of the Minutemen, which includes the Comedian, and kisses his half of the picture as tears roll down her face.
Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre revealed that Laurie got her start as a super-hero being trained by her mother to continue the family legacy, before running away from home at the age of 16 and relocating to San Francisco with her boyfriend.
Events of Doomsday Clock
During the 12-issue sequel to Watchmen, it is revealed that seven years after the events of Watchmen, "Sam and Sandra Hollis" have a daughter together. They also adopt Clark, the son of two costumed villains, Mime and Marionette. After jailing the pair following an aborted bank robbery, Dr. Manhattan noted that Marionette was pregnant. He sensed that the child had a bright future ahead of him. In order to preserve that future, he took the boy as an infant following his birth in a prison hospital. Dr. Manhattan named him Clark, raised him nearly to his teen years and after bequeathing Clark his powers and infusing his life force into the planet, brought Clark to the Hollises to raise.
Events of Watchmen (HBO series)
Laurie Jupiter appears in Watchmen, portrayed by Jean Smart. She and Dreiberg had broken up in the 90s, as he desired children while she wished to keep fighting crime, but kept working together, with Laurie assuming the identity of The Comedienne and her father's surname Blake. After foiling the Oklahoma City bombing, she and Dreiberg were arrested by the FBI; Dreiberg refused to cooperate, but Laurie struck a plea bargain that included her becoming an FBI agent. By the beginning of the series, set 34 years after the events of the novel, she is a member of the Anti-Vigilante Task Force.
After the murder of Tulsa chief of police Judd Crawford, Laurie and her coworker Agent Dale Petey are sent to Tulsa at the behest of Senator Joe Keene Jr. (whose father had passed the Keene Act outlawing vigilantism). Attending Judd's funeral, Laurie kills a member of the white supremacist militia the Seventh Kavalry who attempts to take Keene Jr. hostage. Tensions rise between Laurie and Judd's coworker Detective Angela Abar, who operates under the identity Sister Night. Suspecting Angela's knowledge of events, Laurie bugs the desk of Angela's friend Detective Wade Tillman/Looking Glass. After recording Angela admitting to Wade that her grandfather, Will Reeves, was Judd's murderer, Laurie arrests Angela. Angela is first able to swallow a bottle of Nostalgia (illegal memory pills) belonging to Will; while hallucinating Will's memories, Angela reveals that Will is the true identity of Hooded Justice, and in the 1930s had investigated a KKK plot called Cyclops that hypnotised African Americans into attacking each other. Will had stolen the hypnotism technology and used it to make Judd kill himself, having learned he was a member of the Seventh Kavalry. Laurie confronts Judd's widow Jane Crawford, who reveals herself to also be part of the Kavalry and takes Laurie captive. Laurie is bought to Keene, the leader of Kavalry, who declares that they intend to take Dr Manhattan's powers to enforce white supremacy. Manhattan (who had been living as a human in the guise of Angela's husband Cal) is captured, but it is revealed that the Kavalry had been manipulated by Lady Trieu, a Vietnamese-American billionaire who is secretly Adrian Veidt's daughter, to capture Manhattan so her involvement would not be suspected. As Trieu prepares to take Manhattan's powers, Manhattan teleports Laurie, Veidt, and Wade (who had infiltrated the Kavalry) to Karnak. Although too late to save Manhattan, Veidt manufactures another squid attack that kills Trieu before Manhattan's powers can be transferred to her body. In the aftermath, Laurie arrests Veidt for the original squid attack; when he protests, Wade knocks him out and the two drag him aboard Dreiberg's old owlship Archimedes to return to civilisation. It is revealed by the supplementary resource Peteypedia that Laurie returns safely to America and is debriefed in secret.
Powers and abilities
Both Silk Spectres are expert gymnasts and are experts at hand-to-hand combat.
In other media
- Both Silk Spectre incarnations appear in comic's sequel television series Watchmen. Jean Smart portrayed the second Silk Spectre, Laurie Juspeczyk, and an uncredited actress portrayed the first Silk Spectre; Sally Jupiter. In the series, Laurie Blake (née Juspeczyk) is a retired vigilante, formerly Silk Spectre II, now turned Anti-Vigilante task force member and FBI agent.
- Both Silk Spectre incarnations appear in Watchmen. Malin Åkerman portrayed the second Silk Spectre, Laurie Juspeczyk, and Carla Gugino portrayed the elder Silk Spectre, Sally Jupiter. Haley Guiel portrays a young Laurie Jupiter in flashbacks.
- Both Silk Spectre incarnations appears in Watchmen: Motion Comic, where they, along with every other character in the series, are voiced by Tom Stechschulte.
- per Alan Moore's original character drafts, as reproduced in Absolute Watchmen, Titan Books, 2005, page 443
- Cooke, Jon B. "Alan Moore discusses the Charlton-Watchmen Connection". Comic Book Artist #9
- Watchmen #2. DC Comics.
- Doomsday Clock #4 (March 2018). DC Comics.
- Watchmen #4. DC Comics.
- Watchmen #12. DC Comics.
- Moore, Alan, and Dave Gibbons. "Chapter 9: The Darkness of Mere Being." Watchmen. New York: DC Comics, 1987. 14. Print.
- Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #1. DC Comics.
- "Watchmen Cast Confirmed!" on SuperHeroHype.com (July 26, 2007).
- ""Watchmen" (2008) TV Series". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 25, 2009.