It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Walter Kovacs. In fact, the way the Before Watchmen line is being distributed we’re now going almost two months between issues of any given character. Unfortunately with this much time between “Rorschach #1” and now, absence did not make the heart grow fonder, just forgetful. We find him (slowly) recovering from his wounds and continue seeking vengeance on those that crippled him. However, for whatever reason, something felt a bit off. The internal monologue felt more like a device than a flowing stream of consciousness narration. His trademark brand of brutality was present, but excessively so. There was a clever kill that seemed justified, but also a torture that seemed merely violent for violence sake. If Rorschach is supposed to be the unwavering voice of truth and reason regardless of the price or implication, here he seems rather influenced by emotion and not fully formed.
Perhaps that is his arc. Rather than the formation of a group or individual persona, we are watching the internal transformation of the man that is already wearing the mask into the symbol he becomes. The art remains very solid with breathtaking imagery from page one. The cover, showing blood droplets on his breakfast platter forming the trademark ink blots and Watchmen logo are brilliant. The dialogue and characterization remain spot on. Even had one narration block completely blow me away:
Undeniable fact everyone denies is that at it’s heart, the world is a cold place. It doesn’t care whether you live or die, or how you live or how you die. To the world, you don’t matter. You don’t matter to the person sitting next to you. They wont give their life for you. They shouldn’t. Accepting this truth was exhilarating. Gave me clarity. Gave me a mission. I understand there are two types of people in this world. Victims…and me.
That is genuine to Rorschach. Yet, in the face of lone determination, one particular character seems determined to prove a sense of humanity to him. Something tells me it’s not going to work out great for them. This issue was intriguing and certainly furthers his plot with some truly striking scenes. We get a glimpse into the villain showing he can, and will, match Rorschach’s brutality ounce for ounce. However the significant time between books and the fact that this second issue is a slow build to the reveal of Walter re-donning the mask reminds me why I’m waiting for the trades to pick up most of the Watchmen character books. I’m still on board for the rest of the run; just seems that DC has lost some of the hype and momentum they had going into it. So who watches the Watchmen? I do, just very slowly.