Rorschach: Does the Black Series’ Finale Create a New Watchmen Vigilante?
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Rorschach #12, available now from DC Comics.
The Black Label series Rorschach takes place 35 years after the events of Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins' seminal Watchmen series. It started off with a big mystery: somehow, it appeared as if Walter Kovacs had returned. Kovacs, the alter ego of the vigilante Rorschach, was killed by Doctor Manhattan at the end of Watchmen -- which made his return all the more confusing. An investigator was put in charge of the mystery, and for the past eleven issues, he uncovered a political plot that involved presidential candidate Turley's administration, an elderly comic book creator named Wil Myerson and his young sidekick, Laura Cummings.
While it soon became clear that Walter Kovacs had not miraculously come back from the dead, the big mystery of Rorschach slowly became something else. Will someone properly carry the vigilante's legacy forward? With Rorschach #12 by Tom King, Jorge Fornés, Dave Stewart and Clayton Cowles, the answer certainly appears to be yes.
Throughout his investigation in Rorschach, the investigator discovered that several people had worn the mask of the vigilante. There was Wil Myerson, who put on the Rorschach costume when he attempted to kill Turley, a circus strongman named Muscles, and famed comic book creator Frank Miller. All of these men were convinced by Laura Cummings that Doctor Manhattan had reincarnated the souls of the Watchmen superheroes into the body of regular people. They all believed they had the soul of Rorschach in them and adopted his identity.
In Rorschach #11, the investigator finally put all of the puzzle pieces of this mystery together and found out that he had been played by the Turley administration in their hopes that his findings would incriminate their political rival, President Redford. Upon this discovery, the investigator suffered a crisis of conscience, and he was faced with a choice: either to do as he was hired to do, or save the world from a very dangerous man. As the issue came to a close, the investigator had seemingly accepted to become the new Rorschach, but we weren't certain what he would do next.
Now, in Rorschach #12, the investigator sits down with Turley and his assistant, under the pretense that he will present his final findings to the Governor. Using a broken beer bottle, the investigator then brutally kills the two men, effectively completing the mission of Myerson's "Rorschach." He then heads to the movie theatre where he catches a midnight showing of the latest Pontius Pirate movie. As the title character declares himself a pirate on the screen, the investigator smiles.
The smile is indicative that he now sees himself in the reflection of the pirate. He is someone outside the law who abides by his own rules. And to make this transformation clear, the screen projects a faint reflection of the inkblots of Rorschach's mask on the investigator. Sure, he may not put on the costume, but this final look at the investigator seems to make it all but clear: the spirit of Rorschach lives on in him. Not in the same manner as Myerson, who truly believed that he was a reincarnation of Rorschach, but as the anti-establishment spirit of the character. Through him, the legacy of Rorschach truly lives on.