Thursday, August 28, 2008
Watchmen Book Club: Chapter VI
So it's All About Rorschach in this chapter, with a series of illuminating, disturbing, depressing, graphic, and horrifying sessions with the prison-appointed psychiatrist. They talk about Rorchach's childhood -- little Walter Kovacs, slow-ish bully magnet with a whore for a mother -- and his more-incremental-than-we-thought evolution into Rorschach. The shrink serves as a surrogate for anyone who has to spend any significant time with Rorschach: Drieberg, the rest of the Crimebusters, and especially us readers. Prolonged exposure to Rorschach and his poisoned worldview is, I think it's safe to say, not good for one's emotional health.
I was totally in love with the artwork from this chapter. Kovacs's mom looks so trashily pock-marked, it's incredible. And the crowding of the talk bubbles when Walter's being bullied in flashback and in prison. And the ink blots and the dog's head and Walter's ruined, dead facial expressions. Just incredible.
I like how we're given such a typical "origin" for Rorschach -- the prostitute mom, the child abuse, the bullying -- but that ends up being more or less a fakeout. His origin ends up being more an accumulation of every shitty thing about the world, piled one on top of the other.
LOVED the origin of the mask -- the viscous, heat-sensitive dye trapped between two layers of latex, both metaphor AND practical explanation -- particularly because I had totally missed this the first time I read the book, and the whole "shape-shifting mask" thing always bugged me from a logistical standpoint. My geekery is now assuaged.
I'd also like to note that, say what you will about Rorschach, the way he writes and the way he speaks is downright elegant. His words, while disturbing, are gorgeously constructed. Yes, he's repellant to be around, yes he will fuck up your mind and suck you into his abyss of misanthropy, but the guy can tell a story, can he not?