Watchmen has been considered one of the greatest graphic novels for decades, but newfound interest has come to Moore’s world since the critically acclaimed HBO sequel series debuted last year. While it’s no surprise that DC would want to dig deeper into the Watchmen universe, the announcement in July of a 12-issue Watchmen spinoff series centering around Rorschach comes with its own series of questions. For one – spoiler alert – Rorschach dies at the end of Watchmen. Secondly, the outfit of Rorschach was co-opted by white nationalist terrorists in the HBO series, who took Rorschach’s journals to the extreme.
But the upcoming Rorschach series is sure to be one of the most talked about comic series of the year when it debuts on October 13, so let’s take a look at everything we know about the new Rorschach comic book series so far.
Who Is Rorschach?
Rorschach has been an iconic comic character since Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons released Watchmen in 1986, a controversial vigilante protagonist with questionable actions. While Rorschach’s mask might be ambiguous – a constantly shifting inkblot – Rorschach’s twisted view of justice isn’t, as his absolute, twisted view of right and wrong, along with his self-imposed authority gets to the heart of Watchmen’s criticism of how audiences judge superhero stories. So it makes sense that he’d be the character to get a Watchmen spinoff series.
Based primarily on two characters created by Steve Ditko – Question and Mr. A – Rorschach is Moore’s criticism of moral objectivism and the writing of Ayn Rand. In Watchmen, Rorschach, a former member of superhero group, The Minutemen, now works on his own, as he investigates the murder of costumed superhero, The Comedian. His journey leads him into a much larger conspiracy led by genius Adrian Veidt (also known as Ozymandias), who plans on faking an alien attack as a way to unite the world and stop what seems like an inevitable nuclear war.
While the other heroes are helpless when presented with Veidt’s plan, Rorschach refuses to lie to the public, a choice which ends in him being killed by the all-powerful Dr. Manhattan. Watchmen ends with Rorschach’s journal, which holds the truth about Veidt’s plan, being sent to the newspaper, New Frontiersman, where it is left in a pile of papers called the “Crank File.”
What Is The Rorschach Series About?
The announcement of Rorschach #1 came with the following description of the Watchmen spinoff series on DC’s website:
“It’s been 35 years since Ozymandias was exposed for dropping a giant telepathic squid on New York City, killing thousands and ending the public’s trust in heroes once and for all. The Minutemen are gone; only their memory lives on. Especially the infamy of Rorschach, who has become a cultural icon since Dr. Manhattan turned him to dust. Rorschach may have spoken truth, but he wasn’t a hero.”
Writer Tom King says of his Rorschach series, “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.’”
DC’s description the their Watchmen spinoff continues:
“So what does it mean when Rorschach appears as part of a pair of assassins trying to kill the first candidate to oppose President Robert Redford in decades? Follow one determined detective as he walks backward in time, uncovering the identities and motives of the would-be killers, taking him deep into a dark conspiracy of alien invasions, disgraced do-gooders, mystical visions, and yes, comic books.”
In the above image released from the Rorschach series, many of the members of The Minutemen can be seen reunited in a snow-covered woods, including Rorschach, Ozymandias, Silk Spectre II, Doctor Manhattan, Nite Owl II and The Comedian. This implies that at least some of the Watchmen spinoff will take place even before the events of Watchmen.
Past Watchmen Spinoffs
This isn’t the first time Watchmen spinoff material has focused on Rorschach with a series. The Before Watchmen prequel series focused four issues on the beginnings of Rorschach’s crime-fighting days in New York City, yet the series wasn’t well-received.
Rorschach was also referenced in DC’s Doomsday Clock series and along with Nite Owl II, was one of two playable characters in the 2009 video game Watchmen: The End Is Nigh, based on the Zach Snyder film adaptation.
The Team Behind The Rorschach Series
Writing the Rorschach series will be Tom King, who has an extensive history with DC, including 85 issues of Batman from 2016-2019. Joining him on this project will be artist Jorge Fornés, colorist Dave Stewart and letterer Clayton Cowles.
It’ll be interesting to see what this new crew will do with this spinoff character series and the Watchmen world in general when Rorschach #1 is released on October 13, 2010.