Over the past several months we have been discussing one of the most controversial decisions at DC Comics in the last several years.…..the attempt to tell the story of the Watchmen in the prequels aptly titled Before Watchmen. Good or bad, here we are and we are covering each issue. (I am using the Royal “We” in this instance).
Rorchach #4 Written by Brian Azzarello with Art by Lee Bermejo
I want to start out by saying that I respect Brian Azzarello as a writer and creator and I think that he’s contributed a lot of great stories over the years to DC Comics as well as other companies. I cannot count this Rorschach series among them. While I found his work on the Comedian series started off poorly but turned around immensely near the end, his work on this title has failed to launch. The dialogue and atmosphere fit the character and it was obvious that Brian understood the character but the planets did not align for this mini series. I think the main reason why is due to the villains of this tale, Rawhead and The Bard. In this final chapter, Rawhead has Rorschach dead to rights. He’s ambushed him at his club and captured him. He plays with him, removing his mask and decides to go out and play “superhero” on the streets during a blackout. Meanwhile, Rorschach is upstairs, chained to a bed at the mercy of Lucky P, a man who specializes in painful and torturous deaths. On the other side of town, Nancy is now with The Bard, who is obviously someone she knows based on her reactions to him in last issue but is still hidden from the reader. Things play out as you would expect them with a few redeeming plot points. Unlike issue #3, where it looked like the story was veering away from the expected ending for this tale, issue #4 gets us right back on track to the inevitable ending. Here’s the thing. The villain always has to be more powerful than the hero. Otherwise, there’s no great challenge for the hero to overcome. I know that Rorschach is not a conventional hero but for the purposes of this story, he has to be. Rawhead is an idiot and it’s obvious that he’s not going to win. We knew this from the first issue. Azzarello tried very hard to make him look like the man but those attempts to make him look strong just made him look like a lucky goof. Rorschach is tied to a bed for most of this issue and we know that he will not go down to the likes of Rawhead. The Bard on the other hand, had the potential to be the strong antagonist for this piece. Instead, he was used as an afterthought. A background character to fill in a presence of fear as opposed to an actual combatant. The endings to both villains’ stories are unsatisfying. I know that this was done on purpose to illustrate the “city showing it’s true face” but for the reader, it leaves the ending feeling very hollow. Like I said, Azzarello obviously understands the character but almost too well. I’m sorry to say that I did not like this series. The artwork by Bermejo was fantastic but not enough to keep me interested in this tale. When this story is collected, I would not recommend picking this up.
Check back with us next week as we get closer to the end of the Before Watchmen Experience.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!
Next Week’s Issue: Ozymandias #6 Written by Len Wein with Art by Jae Lee