This contains NO spoilers for Watchmen!
After covering Watchmen so
heavily for so long, it gets easy to forget that not everybody knows
the original comic inside and out the way I do. Or the way that many of
the readers of this site do. While there are probably a whole bunch of
people reading CHUD today who own an edition of Watchmen, there are probably a bunch more who have just a passing acquaintance with the comic, the world and the characters.
must be pretty annoying being one of those people, since so much of the
coverage of the movie has been steeped in spoilers from the get go. But
Warner Bros knows that there are a lot more people who have no clue who
that big glowing naked blue guy is or why he’s forty feet tall in one
scene in the trailer.
For those folks there’s a new page up at
NBC.com, featuring quick character featurettes for the uninitiated. The latest one is Rorschach. Here’s the
character lowdown they give:
Motivated by a traumatic childhood and an unwavering sense of right and wrong, Walter Kovacs became the costumed hero Rorschach, wearing a trench coat, a fedora, and a mask with a shifting, mirrored pattern of black shapes on a white background. Highly skilled in physical combat and able to turn almost anything to hand into a makeshift weapon, Rorschach worked as a team with the second Nite Owl until costumed vigilantes were outlawed. Nite Owl retired, but Rorschach refused to follow suit, operating illegally and becoming increasingly paranoid. His journal is the regular record of all of his activities and his increasingly misanthropic musings.
Watch the video here (click on Rorschach when the page loads)
Rorschach is perhaps the most troubling character in Watchmen; a sociopathic loonie, he’s also kind of… cool. Cool in the way that is only cool in action movies and comic books. Many Watchmen fans like to pretend that they ‘understand’ what Alan Moore was doing with Rorschach and that they look down on people who name him their favorite character in the book. But come on, he’s pretty fucking cool. For a horrible, crazy guy.
As I mentioned in the Dr. Manhattan entry, Watchmen is loosely based on superhero characters from Charlton Comics; Rorschach is a version of The Question. Steve Ditko, the creator of Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, left Marvel to go work at Charlton, and The Question was a character he created seemingly for the purpose of exploring his own politics and Objectivist philosophy. By day, The Question is Vic Sage, an investigate TV reporter. At night Vic wears a mask that renders him faceless and he beats the shit out of criminals.
How much was The Question an outlet for Objectivist philosophy? Check out this speech Vic delivers in Blue Beetle #4 (The Question had a back up feature in the book):
I repeat, rights can only belong to individuals! Groups, by themselves, have no rights! The right belong to the individual within the group! And no man, nor group, has the right to forceably violate another man’s rights! He may do so — just as he may kill — but by no stretch of the imagination does he have the right to do so!
The Question had a very rigid moral code – there was just good and evil – and he was willing to go to any lengths to defend it, something that was probably very out there and edgy in 1967.
Ditko’s The Question only appeared in four issues of Blue Beetle. He disappeared until DC bought the Charlton characters and gave him new life, dropping all the Objectivism and making him… Zen Buddhist.