Jun 30, 2016

Is Rorschach Gay? And Other Watchmen Observations

I'm rereading Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen for a larger piece I'm working on, and I had some random thoughts while reading it that I thought I'd share with you here.

Naturally, spoilers for this 30-year-old story abound, so if you haven't read it, then, you know, don't read this yet.

No Thought Balloons Makes You Speculate on Certain Things

For example, Ozymandias is totally thinking of removing the grappling hook and killing Rorschach here, isn't he?

Intentional Misreading

I've never noticed this before, and it seems to be the kind of thing that's completely unintentional and reading too much into it, and it may be the Absolute Edition drawing my eye into different places or my overall ADD, but that shot of Rorschach's face in the top right panel of the left page just drew me to that shot of Hollis on the top left panel of the right page, so I ended up reading these two pages as one long page (entire top row first, then the second row, then the third).

And what ends up happening there is Rorschach goes "Hurm" and then Hollis goes "Watch the language." It's interesting and actually reads better that way. Whether or not it was intentional doesn't matter.

The Mysteries Are Really Very Obvious

Question for you guys who went into Watchmen cold. I knew who Rorschach was and who the "villain" was gonna be before I read the book the first time (Wizard spoiled it). But did you guys who didn't know that going in figure it out before they did the big reveals? I ask because rereading it now, it seems pretty obvious who they are with all the stuff Moore and Gibbons do, but I never had that experience of trying to figure it out, so I don't know how obvious it is if you go in cold.

Rorschach's seems like they're giving it away as early as here. This is the end of the first scene with Walter Kovacs.

And this is the start of the next page, the first scene with Rorschach.

If the last panel of the first scene and the first panel of the second were right beside each other, wouldn't the reader automatically think (not even think it's something to "figure out") that it's obvious?

And this is my favorite bit of foreshadowing involving Ozymandias.

Rorschach Would Have Been So Different

Here's an early concept sketch.

Rorschach is weird in it.

Rorschach is a Really Bad Detective

I mean, really, he mentions that it's a shame Moloch is dead because he'd be a great suspect.  This entire scene is literally nine panels of him blabbing on and on about Egyptian gods while Dan stumbles onto the solution. Much of what he says to Dan in the Owlship too, it's just false bravado. "We should be questioning people in the underworld." "Give me the littlest finger on a man's hand and I'll produce information." No, Walter, we saw you do all that earlier in the series, and you produced nothing. You are really bad at your job.

Is Rorschach Gay?

Here's a scene where Dan Dreiberg, Nite Owl, is unbearably awkward due to his attraction to Laurie Juspeczyk, Silk Spectre.

And a few issues later, here's Rorschach and Nite Owl.

I always thought this was just Rorschach being unbearably awkward in general, but so little in this book is unintentional and so much of it is reflective, so it got me thinking. And if it is intended to hint at his homosexuality, the face his mask makes is adorable.


I Don't Think A Lot of This Would Work If It Came Out Today

This whole comic really does look different given modern sensibilities. There's really no way this storyline flies if it came out today.

The general awareness of rape — even attempted rape — its effects on its victims, its psychological and physiological impact on not just the victims, but also the vortex and community around the victims, is so much higher now and changes the complexion of the story. Given that, the idea that Sally eventually forgave Eddie, that they would eventually have a child, and that Laurie, even if she is that child, would posthumously forgive Eddie, is a less plausible idea in 2016 than it was in 1986 (even though it has been known to happen). And Rorschach, whose mother was a sex worker and whose one real act of forgiveness/compromise in the book is to not reprimand his landlady, who is implied to be a sex worker, certainly would not, given the heightened awareness of rape and sexual assault, overlook Eddie's history of it and classify it simply as "a moral lapse," which he does in the first issue. (Moore has admitted that his intent was to portray Rorschach as a terrible and demented human being, and there are so many things throughout the book that leads to that point. But he's also the only one among all of them with as much moral integrity as he does, misguided though those morals are, whereas everyone else in the book is pretty wishy washy, detached, and all that, that Rorschach ends up looking like the most admirable person in the book, in terms of his integrity alone.)

In a way, that actually cements the need for the comic to stay rooted in the 1980s; the social climate makes it so complicated, and different, in the 2010s. The Eddie/Sally pairing is to make it so that Laurie's parentage is as unlikely and as improbable and as unreasonable a pairing as feasible in the story. A 2010s story involving such a device would most likely not use rape. (What would they use? I don't know.)


Tony Laplume said...

Excellent observations and analysis.

Meh said...

Funny, i found this while ...researching if anyone else noticed Rorschach's different behavior around Dan.
I read the comic without being spoiled, and i've never figured anything out. It seems pretty obvious in hindsight though

gt workshop.inc said...

I went in cold and had myself torn to shreds the more I read on. Rereading it know, I can easily see all the foreshadowing. Going in cold was the best, because it was the way all the characters in the book would be going in too. None of them knew (except Jon and the Comedian (sort of)) and the suspense killed me.

Post a Comment

All comments on The Comics Cube need approval (mostly because of spam) and no anonymous comments are allowed. Please leave your name if you wish to leave a comment. Thanks!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.