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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 61

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

In honor of the opening of Watchmen at the end of the week, here’s a special “Watchmen moments” week!

Today we look at the effects of dealing with Rorschach too long..

Enjoy!

Watchmen #6 is the Rorschach spotlight issue, depicting Rorschach’s prison therapist trying to get in touch with Rorschach. Instead, he learns that you really ought not to go messing around with Rorschach’s mind, because it is a terrible place to visit.

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons do a virtuoso performance on this issue-long look through the tortured psyche of Walter Kovavs, the man known as Rorschach, but perhaps better known as the man CONTROLLED by Rorschach.

By the end of the issue, instead of bringing Walter Kovacs out of Rorschach, the doctor instead found HIMSELF brought INTO Rorschach, in a terrifying ending to the issue…

Again, if you could, please keep the discussion either specific to this moment or general to Watchmen as a whole, as there’s a whole week to discuss other moments from the series! Thanks!

42 Comments

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 3, 2009 at 4:07 am

Quite possibly the best issue of the entire series. With # 9 being the runner-up.

I’ve always wondered about Kovacs’ “conversion” to Rorshcach. If he indeed realized that “existence is random” and that there’s no pattern or God, why did he hold on to the same right-wing conservative/reactionary beliefs he had before the conversion? Conservatives essentially believe in the sort of order of whose existence Rorschach denies in there, yet even after his conversion he seems to have no problem pushing the same conservative agenda as he did before. You’d think after an “enlightenment” like that he would’ve lead him to become a libertarian or something…

Also, as masterfully as Moore presents it, the way Rorscach gets inside Dr. Long’s heads seems a bit too easy as well. It’s kinda odd that a professional psychiatrist dealing with criminals is so easily impressed by Rorschach’s freshman-level nihilist philosophy. Maybe Dr. Long was already depressed before he met Rorschach though, and Rorscach only helped push him over the edge?

Could we do a list of favourite supporting characters?
Because this guy’s top of my list.

Then Brenda & Paco from Blue Beetle for very different reasons.

Having just re-read the book, I got the impression that Dr. Long wasn’t necessarily a professional criminal psychiatrist. I think he catered mostly to rich, famous people with hang-ups, and he took Rorshach’s case in the belief that he could write a book about it later. Still, you’re right that a professional psychiatrist shouldn’t have been swayed that easily. The scene with his friends at the dinner rang true to me, though…they were basically asking for it with those questions. What was he supposed to do, not answer?

Furious George

March 3, 2009 at 7:29 am

I’ve read this book every year for ten years, and every time I discover something new. I just noticed the contrast between the Hiroshima Lovers embrace in one panel and the Longs’ disconnection in the next.

another moment that gave me chills not to mention it proves how nuts Rorshach really is and those who cross his path wind up questioning their own views and think maybe he is right

Wow, I hope non-comics readers who see the film turn to the book for more insight. The film duplicates much of the film, but a lot of this deep dialogue understandably had to be cut out due to time considerations.

Yup! One of my favourite bits! Cheers!

I’m paranoid that this momment, and Dr Long in general, might not be in the movie. I don’t know, though, so don’t tell me. ;-)

Theno

Theno, hope it’s not a spoiler, but in some of the pictures I’ve seen from the “Watchmen Portraits” book, there is someone who looks remarkably like him… I don’t know for certain, but I think it’s him… Mind you he could be just a background character…

I loved this episode. However, I think Mrs. Long leaving her husband was kind of a weak point to the storytelling. I’ve had worse disagreements with my wife that didn’t lead to her finding a hotel for the night.

Blackjak–

I’ve seen the movie early. I don’t think this counts as a spoiler: Rorschach’s conversation with the doctor is still in the film; it’s just incredible truncated. The “side stories” of the book–i.e., the doctor, the kid reading the comic, and the quarreling lesbians–are largely cut out of the film. Even at 2 1/2 hours, they still couldn’t fit everything in there.

I think he gets to the doctor so easily because there’s only so many pages to devote to it while still telling the story this issue required. I didn’t mind the conceit, especially since there’s enough evidence early on that Dr. Long (and his relationship with his wife) weren’t all that healthy to begin with but had masked their troubles in a sea of banality.

Tuomas, great comment!

Tuomas, I think Rorschach kind of answers your question in panels 4-6 of the first page. Life that is devoid of inherent meaning still can have meaning. It’s very clear what Rorschach considers appropriate, and he takes action to try to enforce that standard. Prior to his change, he allowed Dreiberg, law enforcement, and God to influence his actions, but afterwords, he saw his own worldview as the most able to ensure people treated each other well. I don’t think his views differed as much as they focused and hardened.

I’m guess the moment Walter became Rorscach was a little too grisly. It was a good issue. I used a panel as reference for this sketch.

Dan, well put. I guess it’s still funny that Rorschach says he’s “free to scrawl” his “own design” on this world, yet his “own design” is just the same time-worn cliches conservative nutsos have always believed in. So his moment of realization feels more like a bit of self-important self-glorification to feed his Messiah complex (he, unlike others, sees the world “as it is”; he stands above the masses who beg him to help them) rather than some true individual enlightenment. Which is why Dr. Long shouldn’t have been so impressed by it, unless the good doctor was already having some issues himself, and the meetings with Rorschach helped to enhance them. It’s not like Rorschach’s newly realized worldview is really that new or unique or impressive.

Tuomas, part of the power of Roscharch worldview over the doctor is that it’s a first hand account of the brutality of man, prior to this, it’s very likely that the doctor hadn’t heard a viewpoint like this. His entire education and experience was from textbooks, the rich and famous and newspapers. In the book it was made apparent in prior scenes that the doctor was having problems at home, was hoping to get a book out of it, and was very naive at the depths of Roscharch’s mental state, thinking it was a surface transformation between Kovac and Roscharch, which by removing the mask would result in bringing Kovac back.

I’m not sure about calling it the same time-worn cliches that conservative nutsos have always believed in, it appears that Roscarch is a liberal nutso version of a conservative if anything. Roscharch is nuts, to ascribe any true political belief to him, is oversimplifying any political believe system. (I mean as a liberal I find the throng of crazies on my side of the political spectrum to be as appalling as a true conservative would find on their hard core side — I mean Peta is on my spectrum and they are more crazy than extreme right to lifers)

Roscharch is not what I would call a political representative of a viewpoint, he has his own opinions, but his actions do not mimic a true conservative viewpoint in any way. The comedian is also not a conservative version, again his politics may be conservative, but his actions do not, contrary to conspiracy nut jobs, showcase the conservative viewpoint.

How is Rorschach a “liberal nutso” exactly? Even if his beliefs are extreme, they seem to fit into a certain type of conservative right-wing mindset, and I can’t think of any example where Rorschach would’ve expressed clearly liberal/left-wing ideas. Also, I’d say Rorschach’s actions are conservative, because the idea of a vigilante fighting crime on the streets is inherently conservative. It’s a time-worn conservative cliche that crime is a social “disease” that needs to be “cured” by punishing the criminals (instead of changing the system that makes people into criminals, which is a left-wing idea), and Rorschach is the ultimate example of this sort of thinking. The Comedian is a more difficult case, however. Clearly his actions work in favour of the right-wing powers that be, but it seems he (unlike Rorschach) doesn’t really believe in what his doing on any sort of an ideological level, he’s more of a nihilist.

In fact, The Comedian seems to have had a similar epiphany as Rorschach has in those panels, except that he came to the more obvious conclusion: if existence is random and there’s no justice, why not just do what you please and not bother yourself with petty moralities? That’s why it’s a bit weird that Rorschach admires The Comedian so; even if they have the same basic worldview, they draw very different conclusions from it.

Tuomas

Great points about Rorschach. I feel however the core of the character goes beyond his conservative views, and thats what Dr. Long reacted to. Dr. Long encountered the reason for why Rorschach is Rorschach: life has no meaning. And what Rorschach did in that moment is help the Dr. understand what it truly means that there is no god, no fate, no meaning to the world, simply “its up to me.” Nothing else is going to change the world so I have to. I think that’s a huge part of Watchmen on the whole, and the ending message of the book. The gods and kings will fail, and it’ll be left in the hands of the common slob who drips ketchup on his shirt (us). What Rorschach was fighting for might not have been what Dr. Long will fight for, but he realizes in the pages after that the world will remain crappy, unless he does something about it (his reasons for breaking up the fight latter in the book). After the weight of the world is put squarely on your shoulders, the smaller things, like status and dinner parties, seem to matter less.

I didn’t say Roscharch was a liberal nutso, I said he was a liberal nutso version of a conservative, it was pointing out that Moore is a liberal nutso (and that is not debateable) writing about his version of a conservative. It isn’t an accurate picture of a conservative, any more than a Pamela Anderson is an accurate picture of the liberal mindset.

as to the actions being conservative or not, I’m not 100% sure I agree that the mere act of being a vigilante = conservative. Prior to the dog/kid thing, Roscharch was more into letting people get arrested and letting the sytem fix it, his epiphany is that there are people too corrupt to live and need to be executed. This could be argued is a conservative viewpoint, but the mere act of being a vigilante as classified as conservative or liberal isn’t accurate. I don’t feel that Roscharch represents the conservative mindset completly or accurately. Agree about the Nihilist comment.

I find the Comedians thought process to be messed up in his conclusions and it doesn’t match, in my opinion, the history of the character. He’s a power is right viewpoint (not conservative but since conservatives were in power he followed their lead) If he could have gotten more power by killing Nixon instead of Kennedy he would have done that. The Comedian doesn’t have a moral center to work from, he doesn’t believe in Justice or fairness or anything else, he’s just a power hungary greedy sob, who at the end realized that he is going to lose and thinks that it’s unjust because he has supported the powerful people for so long that he should be protected. I don’t really get the Comedians point of view, a guy like that would have found leverage to blackmail and protect his place in the new world order..

Roscharch works for me, because he does believe in good/evil, and realizes that in the end the extremes are the only way to go. He admires the Comedian because of their apparent politcal similarities and the Comedians uncompromising actions, but the Comedian never believed in his politics (in my opinion) just the actions that choosing it allowed him to perform.

I always got the sense that Rorschach admired the Comedian because he wanted to catch his pitches.

Very good points, and I think with Dr. Long Moore also shows how the having the weigth of the world on your shoulders can make you go a bit crazy. Dr. Long feels like he’s compelled to do good, but I think Moore is also sympathetic to his wife’s claim that he shouldn’t abandon his home and family because of this. Only nutsos and fanatics like Rorschach can devote their whole lives to an ideal, the rest of us have to compromise.

(That was to Chris Z.)

eyesore, didn’t you used to go by grandma’s beef curtains?

“This could be argued is a conservative viewpoint, but the mere act of being a vigilante as classified as conservative or liberal isn’t accurate.”

Maybe not, but the types of vigilantes like Rorschach clearly draw from right-wing ideology on crime. I think one reason Moore created Rorschach was to imply that, if superheroes like Batman or Punisher existed in the real world, they’d more likely be nutty reactonary fanatics than noble champions of justice.

I’m very much for not comparing Roscharch to Punisher, there is nothing heroic in any action that the Punisher performs, the guy is the definition of anti-villain, not hero. If it was Punisher at the end of the Watchmen series and he couldn’t kill Ozy, he would compromise and say “I’ll be watching” instead of doing the heroic and staying true to ones values. Roscharch is a much more complex of a character than the Punisher.

I agree that Moores point may have been what you were saying, and I don’t doubt for a second that Moore thought that Roscharch is a conservative viewpoint, but I don’t think he is accurate or even complex in his portrayal of the conservative side. But Roscharch is no more conservative viewpoint than Ozy is a liberal viewpoint (as you mentioned fixing the system is a liberal idea, but really killing millions of people is not something that many true liberals would support) They are just complex characters in a complex world that are reacting in ways that they know how to react based upon their inner belief system.

Hmm… I thought that because Rorschach was based on The Question, a Steve Ditko creation, that he was in turn influenced by Steve Ditko’s character. Ditko seems by all accounts to have a very Black/White world view with no shades of gray…

As a Marital & Family Therapist, i feel that Moore’s depiction of the therapist is pretty weak. Moore presents complicated issues and circumstances of which he is unfamiliar in simplistic ways. He is certainly not the only writer who does this [many, many writers do this actually], but knowing a bit about the profession always makes these scenes a bit off for me. Sort of like the way Moore presents conservatives, or the fact that somehow Nixon is still President, even tho’ his two terms would be up.
Of course, this is all fiction anyway…

I thought it was mentioned in the book that there was a Constitutional Amendment to allow Nixon a third term. Personally I thought that point was unnecessary, Without Watergate, there is no way that Carter wins election over whatever Republican is put in office (and there could be a good case made that Reagan would have probably won the Republican nomination in 1976 and started his two term presidency there, meaning Bush becomes president in 1984 —Watchmen takes place in 1985) The difference between Nixon and Reagan for story telling purposes wouldn’t have been much.

As Blackjak mentioned, I’ve always understood that Rorschach was based on Ditko’s The Question, who was originally rooted on Ditko’s own Rand-ish libertarian philosophy. Ditko wasn’t writing The Question as a conservative back in the 60’s although Moore might have altered this viewpoint when he re-tooled the character into Rorschach.

I don’t have the book in front of me, but how long did this issue take, in comic book time? I was always under the impression that Dr. Long spent a good deal of time with Rorschach – long hours, little sleep, away from his family. Rorschach wore him down, then hit him hard when he was mentally vulnerable. And, yes, I remember Dr. Long being a novice to this kind of case, who thought it would be a nice career move…

KMFPL: Rorschach was arrested on October 21, had his first session on October 25th, and his final session on October 28th.

Moore has said in at least one interview that Rorschach’s worldview was his best attempt at encapsulating Ditko’s Objectivist philosophy; presumably that includes post-Question characters such as Mr. A, where the philosophical influence was much stronger and more openly expressed. Don’t forget, too, the famous story where the Question allows criminals to drown rather than rescue them; that’s about as hardcore as vigilanteism was allowed to get in a Code-approved book at the time, but you can see the roots of later developments there.

Does anybody besides me want Mr. Moore to watch the “Watchmen” movie and feel that Mr. Snyder got it right and they both should get the credit they deserve?

One week? Feh!

@ Capt USA,

I think the Comedian knows that Ozymandias is sitting on top of the New Order and won’t tolerate Blake as a wildcard, and thus knows his fate is sealed. His struggle is whether or not to blow the whistle before the end, knowing that Ozy’s plan is probably going to work and save humanity. The plan itself also is of such enormity that it wakens even his sense of morality (and probably shakes out some repressed feelings about Viet Nam as well).

Citizen Scribbler

March 4, 2009 at 10:37 am

And Ozy mentions how the Comedian handed him his ass many years ago, and it looks like he never got over it. That’s really why Blake had to die- Ozy’s wounded pride. The exact same way it’s hinted that Blake probably killed Hooded Justice for whopping his behind many years earlier.

So, yeah- Blake was doomed by Ozy one way or another…

-Citizen Scribbler

This doesn’t include one of my favorite parts of these sessions:

“How are you today, Walter?”

“In prison.”

I felt so sorry for Dr. Long, but at least in the comic, he got some of his nobility back in the end, when he realized that he couldn’t stop caring about people. He was treated much more shabbily in the movie.

I would debate the statement that Moore is a liberal nutso. It’s no secret that he’s a liberal, but I question the “nutso” part.

I get that Rorschach is descended from Ditko’s character, but I wouldn’t agree that Rorschach is an Objectivist. Sure, he has a black-and-white view of morality, but so could anybody, including liberals. He’d have to have the oral-retentive love of the “virtue of selfishness” and complain about “moochers” “stealing” from him via taxes to be an Objectivist. Rorschach actually cares enough about other people to try to protect them from being bullied by predators. He’s crazier than a snake’s armpit and goes overboard a lot, but in his own way he’s a service-to-others type.

“The gods and kings will fail, and it’ll be left in the hands of the common slob who drips ketchup on his shirt (us).”

This seems to be Moore’s view as much as the characters.

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