Review: RORSCHACH #3
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Jorge Fornes
Colours: Dave Stewart
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Rorschach #3: In an instant, 15 million people are dead! What happens when the human psyche is forced to accept such a devastating truth? Follow the story of “the Kid,” a radicalized, gun-toting performer and the right-hand woman of the new Rorschach. See how this masked woman grows from an innocent child to the would-be cold-blooded assassin of a presidential candidate. This detective thriller will unravel the mysteries behind the assassination attempt and reveal how the struggles of these killers connect to larger turmoils of the world.
Tom King is one of the most divisive writers in the comics industry today. Readers tend to either absolutely love or completely detest the titles he writes. I think one of the main reasons for this is that his stories are never the kind of story the reader expects when they first pick up the book. For some readers, this can be a delightful surprise, and for others it’s a letdown.
From the first issue, I knew that this story was not going to be anything I was expecting from a story set in the Watchmen universe. But with each succeeding issue, the story is moving further and further away from those expectations. It’s still far from clear where the story is leading, but it certainly is no letdown.
In Rorschach #3, our unnamed detective protagonist delves into the background Laura Cummings, the masked woman who was partnered with Rorschach. We learn that her father fully believed in the alien invasion narrative created by Ozymandias in Alan Moore’s original Watchmen. He believed that the Earth was in the process of being invaded by telepathic squid-like aliens. And he raised his daughter with the belief that it was her destiny to help thwart this invasion.
Through flashbacks, we see a young Laura being trained in various forms of combat and especially in the use of firearms. I found this to be rather reminiscent of Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass and the training she received from her father.
I found it to be particularly intriguing when our unnamed protagonist imagines a face-to-face conversation between himself and the two late masked assassins. This seems to imply that there is a deeper mystery behind their attempt to kill a presidential candidate. Could there actually be some dark, unseen threat that they were attempting to stop? We know from Watchmen that Adrian Veidt’s aliens were faked, but could they have been onto some real conspiracy?
I also quite like the double meaning in the single panel where the imagined Rorschach turns to the detective, asking him, “What do you see?”. He’s asking the detective what he sees in the clues he has been following, but there’s also another level. Rorschach is asking him what he sees in the ink blots on his mask, the same as in the psychological test he derives his name from. Such a test is designed to reveal what is in the patient’s subconscious. In effect, Rorschach is asking, “what is your subconscious telling you?”.
While this is not the kind of story I expected coming into this series, I am enjoying it immensely. Some readers may be disappointed that this isn’t a more direct sequel to Moore’s Watchmen, but to me, this is proving to be a much more interesting story.
With Rorschach #3, the mystery at the centre of this series is getting deeper and stranger. I’m not exactly sure what this story I’m reading actually is, but I’m loving every minute of it. I just hope that wherever this story is leading, that the payoff lives up to the terrific buildup that King is building.