This is it. The end. Does it finish with a bang or a whimper? Has Adrian saved the world or doomed it?
The first few pages of this issue are shocking. There are dead everywhere. It is difficult to process what we are seeing. Multiple full page panels of broken glass and lifeless, bloody bodies. The effect is unsettling. This is not a clean, victimless event. Characters that we have been getting to know and love over the last 11 chapters are now dead. The scale of the attack is difficult to comprehend. What ever benefit Adrian has received from this assault has come at a great cost. As Jon and Laurie survey the massacre, they resolve to hunt down Adrian and make him pay. Laurie pocketing a gun from a nearby corpse is an ominous sign. (As an aside, where did Laurie get the gun in the movie? All of a sudden she’s got a piece. How did that happen? Maybe it will be in the expanded cut.)
Back in Adrian’s strong hold, Dan is also trying to comprehend what has happened. The difference in these two men is evident. From day one Adrian has been looking at the big picture. He’s planned it all down to the little details. Dan on the other hand can’t understand how any one man could think on this scale. The heroes try to attack Adrian, not only finding themselves outmatched, but reminded that “Failing to prevent Earth’s salvation is [their] only triumph”. For the destruction of New York has created world peace. The nations have banded together to defend themselves against this “extraterrestial” threat. War is no longer an option. Adrian has saved the world.
At this revelation, the fighting stops. Dan and Laurie are at a loss. It’s all too big for them. They can’t bring Adrian to account for his crimes as it would bring all the good it has brought crashing down. So they just stop. They don’t know what to do. Rorschach, on the other hand, has never dealt well with gray situations. He can’t compromise. He can’t allow Adrian to get away with this. Even if it means plunging the world back into war. He knows what is right. And he knows what is best. They aren’t the same thing. If Jon hadn’t killed him right there, I doubt Rorschach’s brain could have coped without shutting down. The moral ambiguity of what has happened is too much.
The day has been saved. Or has it? As Jon points out to Adrian, “Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.” Adrian has saved the day. For now. The day will need saving again. He has averted war, but done nothing to do away with the causes of war. This is a temporary solution at best. And to be honest, the 21st century has shown us that Adrian’s plan probably wouldn’t have worked in the first place. The terrible events of September 11, with the destruction of the World Trade Centre is not that much different to an attack by an alien squid. Did the world join together in solidarity against a common threat? No it didn’t. If anything, the world is a less safe place because of it.
The most telling scene is the final page. An intern at the New Frontiersman hovers over Rorscach’s diary. Inside is enough evidence to send everything crashing down. What happens next? We don’t know. And that’s a good thing. We are reminded that there is no such thing as happily ever after. Nothing ever ends. Will the truth stay hidden? Or will it come blurting out? We will never know. Because there is always something that comes next. The day will always need saving again.
That is until the final day. The day when Jesus returns. The day when he comes back to deal with sin once and for all. To fully usher in the kingdom of God. To bring about the new heaven and new earth. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4) On that day there will be no more fear for the future. There won’t be any threat of the truth unravelling everything. For all deceit and sin will be done away with. All our enemies will be gone. All that will be left will be God’s chosen people worshipping him and loving each other. There will be no need for superheroes because the day will never need to be saved again. Bring it on!