The Watch Men
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The Watch Men (not to be confused with the goofy 80s graphic novel The Watchmen) is a comic book series about a group of superhero watch repairmen and their friends, who save the world time and again with their masterful knowledge of horology (not to be confused with whoreology - the study of whores).
edit Concept & History
The comic was conceived by laid-off Casio employee Bernard Dexter, who was forced to find a new vocation after his unemployment and welfare benefits ran out as a result of the Reagan Revolution. In 1985, Marvel began to publish "The Watch Men" after chairman Stan Lee personally fell in love with Dexter's work, saying he will "never look at a watch the same way again" after reading the comic. The comic quickly took America by storm, making Mr. Dexter a millionaire within just two years. A movie version of the comic is currently in production by Warner Brothers, and is expected to be released in 2010.
The series is praised by critics and rights activists around the world for its ethnically diverse cast. The Watch Men consist of a group of two superheroes plus their three non-super assistants. The two main characters are Mordechai Goldbaum, a jewelry store owner from Brooklyn, and Johann Von Ulrich, a Swiss watchmaker. The primary assistants are Cherokee chieftain Half-Past-Noon, former Crips gangster Lil' Hand, and the lovely North Korean refugee Kim Pul Clock. A variety of villains appear throughout the series, the most notable and evil one being nefarious Mexican drug cartel king pin Tiempo Medianoche, whose complex plots revolve around trying to stop American border guards' watches from working, thus making it easier for his organization to smuggle drugs across to the U.S.
edit Primary Characters
edit Mordechai Goldbaum
A middle-aged jewelry store owner from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who obtains his superpowers in a freak accident during which he got hit in the head by the pendulum of a grandfather clock. He is capable of telling exactly what time it is without any tools, which proves invaluable when trying to fix malfunctioning watches or when others try to deceive him about what time it is. Goldbaum is also invulnerable to jet lag and alarm clocks. After discovering his superpowers, he befriends frequent customer Johann Von Ulrich, and together they form the Watch Men after learning of the evil Medianoche's plot to disable the watches of all American border guards. Occassionally, Mordechai covers himself with blue paint and goes undercover using the alias "Dr. Zizmor".
edit Johann Von Ulrich
An elderly Swiss watchmaker who fled Europe during World War II following his father's tragic death in a skating accident on Lake Geneva. After rummaging through his father's heirlooms, he discovered a gold tooth that he decided to melt down for the precious metal, which he then used to make a gold watch. Unbeknown to Johann, the gold tooth had belonged to the Biblical prophet Zechariah, and was imbued with divine powers. Whenever he puts on the watch, Johann gains the power to manipulate the time shown on any clock in the world, as well as to disguise himself in the form of an 18th century pocket watch. Ulrich's bad vision in his left eye (caused by an errant watch spring) forces him to wear a monocle.
edit Chieftain Half-Past-Noon
Born on a Cherokee reservation in Oklahoma, Half-Past-Noon was outcast from his tribe for embracing Western timekeeping technology instead of relying on tribal customs. However, he has retained much of his Native American knowledge, being able to tell the time of day by the position of the Sun, moon, and stars. He first met the Watch Men in issue #3, "Daylight Savings Time", in which he educated Goldbaum and Ulrich about why Arizona does not change its clocks in the spring or fall.
edit Lil' Hand
Dwayne Sharpton, better known by his gangster nickname Lil' Hand, is an ex-Crip from the South Bronx. His drug dealing career came to an abrupt end after he arrived over thirty minutes late to a deal, angering the buyer so much that a gunfight erupted. After barely escaping with his life, Lil' Hand learned the importance of horology and vowed to always be on time from then on. He joined the Watch Men and became an invaluable source of insider information about villain Tiempo Medianoche's drug cartel. The fact Lil' Hand always wears a clock around his neck also comes in very handy for the team.
edit Kim Pul Clock
Both the team's only female and only Asian member, the svelte Kim Pul Clock is a lucky escapee from communist North Korea. Her impeccable timing and time-bomb building skills are what helped her flee her totalitarian homeland, as described in detail in issue #6, "Ante Meridian - death comes before noon." She helps the Watch Men with hopes that one day the superheroes will help her overthrow Kim Jong Il by disabling the regime's clocks and throwing the country's government into chaos. Recent issues are also exploring a possible romance between her and Chieftain Half-Past-Noon, who must wrestle with the difficult decision to date someone without Native American blood.
edit Tiempo Medianoche
A Mexican drug kingpin who serves a the Watch Men's archnemesis. His plans most often revolve around breaking the watches and timekeeping systems of the U.S. Border Patrol. He particularly despises Mordechai Goldbaum, who he believes ripped him off on a watch deal years ago. Medianoche is notable for a number of catchphrases he utters when confronting the Watch Men, such as "time to run!", "your time has run out!", and "Excuse me, I forgot my watch, can you please tell me what time it is?" Medianoche is very fond of Cuban cigars and also has a secret crush on Kim Pul Clock, which in one episode prompts him to pursue learning the Korean language.
Behind the comic's action-packed adventures resides a deep philosophical theme that explores all aspects of timekeeping and watchmaking. The Watch Men delve into deep questions like whether analog or digital watches are more in fashion, how best to wind mechanical watches, and whether the wristwatch has become obsolete with the advent of cellphones. The series also explores ancient civilizations and how they dealt with timekeeping; the Babylonians' division of times into segments of 60 is thoroughly covered, as is the invention of the hourglass. Modern theories, such as the concept of "metric time," are also discussed. Even physicist Stephen Hawking commented that "The Watch Men are on the forefront of knowledge about the time-space continuum," and that everything in the comic book is firmly rooted in science.
edit Notable Issues
edit #1 "Swiss Army Clock"
The history behind Goldbaum's and Ulrich's superpowers is revealed. The Watch Men are formed after local burglars try to rob Goldbaum's jewelry store. Ulrich happened to be in the store at the time, and by putting on his special watch, he disguises himself as an 18th century pocket watch. Thinking it's a valuable antique, the robbers steal it, only to be surprised when Ulrich shapeshifts back into human form at their hideout and uses his Swiss army knife to kill them all.
edit #7 "Big Ben in Big Trouble"
A fierce rainstorm damages the gears in London's iconic Big Ben clock, making it get one minute too slow every day. The Watch Men avert disaster when they're able to use their skills to repair the priceless time piece. This was the first issue in which the team traveled to Europe, and Goldbaum's immunity to jet lag is first revealed. Critics praised the art and accurate depictions of Big Ben's internal mechanism as "masterful."
edit #23 "The Atomic Caper"
Medianoche's henchmen manage to steal America's secret Cesium supply, putting the future of the nation's atomic clock in jeopardy. With only hours left till the country's official timekeeping device would stop working, the Watch Men recover the radioactive metal from a hideout in Mexico. This issue was the first in which Johann von Ulrich was not prominently featured, as his story arc had him searching for his long-lost nephew in Switzerland - a recurring theme from then on.
edit #41 "A Midnight Too Late"
In this revolutionary issue, drug kingpin Medianoche finally manages to succeed in sabotaging the watches of all American border guards. With the Department of Homeland Security in chaos, only the Watch Men can stop the inflow of Mexico's finest crack cocaine. They are able to get the border patrol to sync up their actions by observing a giant sundial built by Chieftain Half-Past-Noon in a peyote induced trance. This thought-provoking issue coincided with the heated debate about immigration during George W. Bush's presidency.
edit #62 "A Love for All Time"
In this romantic issue, the romance between Kim Pul Clock and Chieftain Half-Past-Noon first begins to bloom. While changing the clocks in the Watch Men's headquarters for Daylight Savings Time, the pair finds chemistry in a fascinating conversation about the history of hourglasses. In a scene reminiscent of the film "Ghost," Half-Past-Noon gently guides Kim's hand as she turns the minute hand of a clock in the building's foyer. Many fans were caught by surprise with this turn of events, as previous issues had hinted that Kim Pul Clock was actually interested in Lil' Hand, not the chieftain. The author explained, however, that Lil' Hand needs to remain uncommitted for a future story arc about brothels which defraud their girls based on falsified time sheets.