Rorschach by Tom King

Title: Rorschach.
Universe: Watchmen.
Writer(s): Tom King.
Artist(s): Jorge Fornés.
Colourist(s): Dave Stewart.
Letterer(s): Clayton Cowles.
Publisher: DC Comics.

Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: December 14th, 2021.
Pages: 312.
Genre(s): Comics, Superheroes, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781779512048.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.


To try to establish a structure within chaos is a futile project yet, in reality, it is completely plausible, with the only condition that knowledge is suppressed and possessed only by those who seek power. If mankind were to uncover the truth hidden between the lines, the status quo could be disrupted, as knowledge would inevitably bring enlightenment to the masses. However, such chaos, or just the fear of such chaos, while at the heart of countless societal problems, could never really serve humanity without first inviting them on an adventure founded on existential crises. Sometimes, it only takes one person to make the difficult decisions and focus on one major truth: that there’s nothing more powerful than the truth. Collecting all twelve issues of this limited miniseries, writer Tom King and artist Jorge Fornés join forces once more to deliver a fantastic and riveting tale about truth, control, and evil within the Watchmen universe.

What is Rorschach? Set 35 years since Ozymandias orchestrated the destruction of New York City through a giant interdimensional squid, killing thousands and traumatizing even more. Since then, the mysterious Rorschach persona has paved the way to the birth of a divisive cultural icon, through his fedora, mask, and trench coat, among citizens whose trust in heroes, has been shattered for years. However, the reappearance of Rorschach in a failed assassination attempt on a presidential candidate running against President Robert Redford leads one detective on a twisted and confusing path leading him straight into a web of conspiracies. As he digs deeper into the story behind a 19-year-old girl with extraordinary sharpshooting skills and an enigmatic Rorschach figure, he questions their motives, their raison d’être, and the truth they have uncovered about the world, humanity, and existence.

“Some people need masks. Some don’t.”

— Tom King

Writer Tom King juggles political intrigue, noir mystery, and societal terror (and even a bit of metaphysical reverence for comic books) through this stand-alone graphic novel. Although it doesn’t pertain to the original individual behind the mask, Walter Joseph Kovacs, nor directly references the original story much, it explores the character’s more ideological foundations and the very emotional frustrations encapsulated within the mask itself. Although its lengthy format, a bit more verbose than the usual from writer Tom King as well, does warrant some issues regarding its pacing, the depth of his psychological scrutiny of the various characters within this detective story is engrossing in more ways than one. The original structure, not only emphasized by a dual narrative of past-presence timelines but also riveting story-telling sequences where fictional/deceased characters discuss with the protagonist, captures a unique and mind-bending narrative, keeping you engaged till the end. The predictable ending also cleverly accentuates the story’s ideas and serves as a great reminder of writer Tom King’s talent when given creative freedom.

Artist Jorge Fornès also matches writer Tom King’s energy through his fantastic artwork, remaining authentic in his own individual artistic vision while paying homage to Dave Gibbons’ style in Watchmen. He also captures facial details and expressions with brio and leaves a lot of the more dynamic sequences to the reader’s imagination through a refreshing organization of his panels (e.g. the same setting shown from one panel to the other with subtle differences in who’s in it and what they’re doing are shown). In fact, creative liberties are also taken and beautifully executed with panel structuring, making for an intriguing organization of how several narrative sequences evolve (e.g. use of epistolary format). Meanwhile, colourist Dave Stewart does a phenomenal job at creating a depressive tone for this noir tale while past events tend to be in a muted colour palette (purple, brown, and green). Letterer Clayton Cowles also has his hands full with how dialogue and narration are organized, especially with the quintessential utilization of sounds within this story.

Rorschach is a tedious yet enthralling detective noir case delving into the inevitability of the status quo and the contorted roots of good and evil.



14 thoughts on “Rorschach by Tom King

  1. Great review Lashaan! I know close to nothing of the Watchmen universe but I remember Rorschach character by the portion of the movie that I saw ahah – I find the use of different colour palettes and tones for different time periods really interesting! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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