Recently released is the Watchmen TV series, and I admit that it hasn’t come across my screen yet. Which will be corrected sooner rather than later. One important part I do know is that the imagery of Rorschach is brought up quite a bit so far. So it is worth mentioning and talking about who he is.
Upfront Cliff notes; his character is originally based on DC’s The Question. Who is brutal towards criminals and obsessed with upholding his own moral laws. He is conservative in nature and likes to monologue. Survivors of his path are few, as he is quick to murder who gets in his way.
More in-depth, filled with spoilers: Rorschach is a psychopath that we see throughout the comic with his mask off. Often seen as a man with red hair, carrying a sign that says the end is near. Appearing in the background many times before we see the mask gets ripped off from him. Living his ‘normal’ life as simply a crazy drifter on the streets.
However, as Rorschach would tell you, that is the mask. His real face is the one he shows the world. The ever-changing black and white image that appears on the fabric stretched across his flesh and blood skin. The mask originally made for a model of special material. Where the black and white ink would shift and change, but never merge.
This imagery fitting with his name. His name is Rorschach, which is also the name of the inkblot test. Someone holds up an image and asks you to tell them what you see. Your first thoughts being an indication of how your mind is programmed. The colors of black and white are also fitting, as he sees the world only in those colors. You are right or you are wrong.
He wasn’t always like that though. During his early days with his partner Nite Owl, he didn’t kill. Like the other Watchmen of the time, they were still brutal and quick to disable their opponent, but he didn’t go out of his way to end their life. Even though his past life was still eating away at him.
His life was filled with hatred. Of his mother, the jobs he had to do growing up and about society as a whole. Even when he was in school he was quick to maim other boys, if they attacked him. He found his mother to be a whore, his exact words. His job as a clothier, or a seamstress. Even making the dress for Nicki Genovie that she would have worn if she hadn’t been killed. Made from the materials that would eventually make his new face.
As with the movie Boondock Saints (I recommend watching it), her death inspired his vigilante career. His compass though wobbly was still balanced by his friend Nite Owl. At the time he was still Walter Kovacs wearing Rorschach. However, near the time the law was passed outlawing Heroes (or Masks) Kovacs died.
He was looking for a missing girl. It took some time, and a few broken bodies, but he found the location. Breaking into the place he was quick to find evidence of her death. That she had been killed, then fed to the dogs. Like in the movie he did kill the dogs, but he did not kill the murderer.
The man now fully Rorschach, after detaining him, cuffed him to a pipe. Then set the building on fire. Not content with just leaving the man to his fate, he did leave him one out. A simple way to save himself. The hacksaw he had used on the missing girl. Rorschach stood outside the blaze to see the outcome. Two people died there that night. The child murderer and Walter Kovacs.
After that, he went on to be too extreme for even the other Watchmen. The only person able to curb him was his only friend Nite Owl. It was his crazed mind however that pieced together a lot of the details of the events of the Watchmen. It was his uncompromising mission, that led him to confront Dr. Manhattan. Knowing full well the outcome.
He was never a man that should be idolized. Though admittedly he did give some good lines. The mad man was a creature filled with hate. A hatred he saw in himself that he projected onto everything around him. All the while masking his behavior as the right fixing the wrong.