DC’s Black Label is attempting to do the impossible with Rorschach #1, but that’s part of what makes comics so great. We have quite the collective of talent coming together with writer Tom King, artist Jorge Fornes, and colorist Dave Stewart bringing their excitement and love of comics to this project. The tone and mystery are going to be big, and this is going to be a long burn of a series, currently scheduled to come out monthly for the next year. So keep that in mind along with your note pad and string board, because we have a case to solve.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Rorschach #1!
My biggest draw to this series is the fact that Jorge Fornes is the artist — his style is just amazingly gritty and noir, which lends itself nicely to Rorschach and Watchmen’s world. I’ve seen Jorge Fornes on Daredevil and Batman, and his style is just perfect for that street-level fighter, bringing in an amount of realism that doesn’t force you to suspend your disbelief. Simply put, this is some beautiful art.
Take that already amazing art and mix in Dave Stewart’s colors — the result is some top shelf stuff for your eyes to be treated to. At the end of this comic there is an interview with Jorge where he talks about his take on the series, mentioning ’60s/’70s noir. Well, Jorge and Dave have nailed it perfectly; this is A+ work.
So, now that we’ve established how excellent the art is, how is Tom King’s writing? Like I said above, this is a slow burn, so let’s have patience with this, because I’m sure this will read amazingly well in collected format. This issue takes me back to television before binging, back when you had to pay attention, think about what you saw, and wait. We get clues from the aftermath of those opening pages and it comes down to the tape that they find on Rorschach. This is a very interesting piece of work as it contains a passage from Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary, specifically Chapter 18: The Sounds of Silence. Maybe during the wait between issues it might be a good idea to check out that other book for clues.
That discovery has really hyped up my curiosity surrounding this issue. How does Otto Binder (the creator of Supergirl), Frank Miller (the creator of The Dark Knight Returns), and William Myerson (a comic book character) come into play in an experiment to talk to the dead? Why does Tom King swap out real life person Tom Fagan for William Myerson? Tom Fagan was a writer and huge comic book fan who helped develop the Rutland Halloween Parade, which also made its way into the comics. Could these just be fun pokes at fellow comic folks, or is there something more in Otto Binder’s book? Also, why isn’t the main detective in this issue named?
Looks like Tom King does it by combining real life with comics, by taking Watchmen and giving it a new mystery in the form of a dead man, and with the ultimate question: Was it really Walter Kovacs? I can for sure see myself sticking around to see how the pieces fit and what it means. Oh, and two more things about the art: on page 9’s bottom panel with Doctor Manhattan’s Halloween Mask, and page 17’s rightmost middle panel with “The Bagman” — that sure is some detail on minor bits, so could it mean more, or are they red herrings?
This is a fantastic opener. Tom King will leave you asking questions, Dave Stewart will bring a set of colors that enhances the noir vibe, and Jorge Fornes will intoxicate your eyes with his images. I can’t believe I’m reading a comic in 2020 where the names Otto Binder, Frank Miller, and Rorschach are all attached. Mystery hype is real!
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!