DC Comics is doubling-down on hype surrounding Watchmen, announcing a new limited series about Rorschach set after the events of the original limited series. Now, fans of Watchmen know that at the end of the comic, Dr. Manhattan atomizes Walter Kovacs, the man who originally wore the Rorschach mask. Yet, a character named Reggie Long took up that identity for Doomsday Clock the sequel to the original graphic novel that brought Watchmen characters into the DC Universe proper. This new series, by Tom King, Jorge Fornés, Dave Stewart and Clayton Cowles, will follow the aftermath of an assassination attempt where one of the killers dressed as Rorschach.
In the continuity of Watchmen, President Richard Nixon stayed in office well into the 1990s. However, he was soon supplanted by President Robert Redford (yes, the actor who played the head of Hydra in Captain America: The Winter Soldier). This new series will, borrowing from Watchmen on HBO, showcase a conservative candidate rising to power, challenging President Redford for the first time in decades. The inciting incident of Rorschach will be a failed assassination attempt on that politician.
The legacy of the original Rorschach is different in this book than in Watchmen on HBO, however. In the series, Rorschach inspired a racist cult to take up his image to institute their plan unseat President Redford. However, in the book series, the late vigilante is “a cultural icon” for revealing Ozymandias’ involvement in the inter-dimensional squid attack on New York City. (Comic books!) Our protagonist in this series will be “one determined detective” whose investigation will take them through the history of the Watchmen universe back to the days of the original series.
Why Do We “Need” A Rorschach Limited Series from DC Comics?
Image via DC Comics
Despite the constant lamentations of co-creator Alan Moore, DC is very keen on keeping the world of Watchmen alive on screens and comic pages. Despite Moore’s insistence that Rorschach was meant to be a character audiences kind of reviled, the masked vigilante is one of the most popular characters from the books. (Also, Jackie Earle Haley’s incredible portrayal of the character in Zack Snyder’s film helped to bolster fans’ affection for him.) Yet, Rorschach was not a good guy. So, of all the heroes in the Watchmen pantheon, it seems strange for the newest series to focus on him.
Yet, according to a statement from writer Tom King, the title has less to do with the character than the tests from where he got his name.
“Like the HBO Watchmen show and very much like the original ‘86 Watchmen, this is a very political work…. It’s an angry work. We’re so angry all the time now. We have to do something with that anger. It’s called Rorschach not because of the character Rorschach, but because what you see in these characters tells you more about yourself than about them.”
Image via DC Comics
This statement from King, a former CIA operative before becoming one of the most popular writers in comics, is illuminating. While some on social media suggest the sentiment is “pretentious,” your humble correspondent finds it intriguing. If anything, it seems to address Moore’s problem with the dissonance between his intention with the character and how fans adore Rorschach. The idea that how we feel about the characters tells us more about ourselves than it does them strikes me as valid, especially when it comes to problematic characters like Rorschach or The Punisher.
Rorschach Issue #1 debuts October 13, 2020. As part of the DC Black Label, it’s for mature readers only and will retail for $4.99 per issue. The series will run for 12 total issues.
What do you think about the new Watchmen limited Rorschach series from DC Comics? Are you excited or do you think the Watchmen characters should be left alone?
Featured image via Warner Bros.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.