Before Watchmen: Rorschach 1
So far this blog has been about titles of DC’s New 52 relaunch. That’s because I’ve been heavily involved in collecting and reading certain lines and so I have a lot to say about them. But I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about a new release outside of the 52: the latest in DC’s Before Watchmen series, Rorschach #1. I have tried to steer away from the Before Watchmen stuff, simply because it didn’t interest me all that much. It seems unnecessary. But when I saw that Brian Azzarello was writing Rorschach, I had to read it. It seems like a match made in Heaven (or Hell), and Azzarello delivered.
The book is told in the same style of narration as Rorschach’s section of Moore’s original Watchmen: excerpts from Rorschach’s journal, dated 1977. The voice of the character seems a bit off, but I can’t explain it. I could, I suppose, if I sat down and analyzed both works but Azzarello’s Rorschach seems a bit more…articulate? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because the story is set before Watchmen (as the title suggests) and Rorschach hasn’t encountered the crisis that sent him careening downhill into the psychopath we see in the famous graphic novel.
The art really made this issue for me. Lee Bermejo makes his panels intense, Rorschach a threatening presence looming from the shadows. He and Azzarello together make reading the book like watching it happen in real time.
The only low point of the book so far is the villain. He looks kind of like Tombstone from Spider-Man, but dresses like a Disco Boy. The point of the original Watchmen, though, was showing superheroes in their twilight years when the world had moved beyond them and the novelty of supervillainy had died away. It makes sense for Rorschach to come up against a “campier” villain. It gives him a sense of trajectory. More intriguing is the mysterious Bard killer, who left our detective friends dumpster diving. I wonder if it will lead up to the infamous child-killer we see in Moore’s original work to completely tie together the Rorschach narrative. We see him hit his nadir to see what he becomes.
Rorschach #1 is a promising start. I suppose I’ll keep reading.