Rorschach reaches its penultimate episode in the Before Watchmen line this week. Sadly, just where the story should be hitting its apex this issue brings more aesthetics than answers. Two different action sequences eat up the majority of the page count, and while both are stylistically and visually appealing it doesn’t do much to sway my opinion that the BW character books have been too drawn-out to deliver a decent bang for your buck.
Character wise, we’re given the notion that a hero like Rorschach has to be careful of the ties he makes, lest those he might love or care about become targets themselves. A self-imposed isolation would be a telling tale for the transition from Walter Kovacs to Rorschach; however, the prospect of losing someone he’s barely able to bring emotion to the surface for doesn’t really explain his motivations as a character. The Rorschach presented at the start of this arc was already withdrawn, ruthless, cold and calculating; just a bit sloppier than in Watchmen. Using the journal as a psychological framing device in place of internal monologue has devolved into simple plot narrative, and just adds to the overall lackluster feel of the book. Honestly, for similar character analysis but done simultaneously with more depth and flare your money is better spent on this week’s Batman: Death of the Family.
Where Moore’s original opus excelled (and Minutemen continues to do so) was at analyzing the humanity and motivations of the heroic archetypes typified on the printed page. The stereotypes of the detective, the strongman, the brain, or even the superman turned out to be anything but stereotypical, and the world they swore to serve may not have been any better off because of their existence. The imagery had subtext, and the foreshadowing was vague while cloaked in uncertainty. The best you can expect from “Rorschach #3” is the symbol of the city suffering a power outage when things are darkest before the dawn. It asks the reader not to ponder the state of the world, but rather (almost hypothetically) “How could we have let it get so bad?” The series seems to be building more to a showdown than a reveal, with the ultimate question being merely will Rorschach go out with a bang or a whimper?