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Before Watchmen: Rorschach #1 Review

BW Rorschach 1The comic book event of the summer is nigh!  Before Watchmen, the much-anticipated prequel series to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, will consist of seven limited series and an epilogue one-shot.  Stay tuned, as the Fanboy Comics crew will be reviewing each title as it is released. Hurm. 



The Rorschach arc of DC’s Before Watchmen opens with all of the grit you’d expect, but it’s the backdrop of the glitzy, 1980s New York that really makes this book pop.  Everything shines, from the latex gloves of the unidentified serial killer on Rorshach’s radar to the breathtaking helicopter view of the New York skyline.  The colorist, Barbara Ciardo, elevates Lee Bermejo’s pencils with a quiet sheen that subtly suggests a flashback to times gone by – and something else.  Something so rare, yet so potent, in a city spilling over with pimps and drugs and decay, a city so often cursed by our main character: hope.  

Brian Azzarello offers a wonderful story of Rorschach operating alone on the streets with little more than his own fury and a mask.  In this first installment he has already developed a reputation and endures a less-than-pleasant encounter with a high-ranking drug dealer.  While this issue mainly follows Rorschach attempting to break up a drug ring, the title has bookends featuring an unidentified serial killer nicknamed The Bard, who will presumably be the big bad for this arc.  

The book was intense but had me chuckling delightedly throughout.  Azzarello and Bermejo clearly have a fondness for this character and portray him with a deep respect and joy.  There are several callbacks to Watchmen as you might expect.  Azzarello uses Rorschach’s journal to introduce the story, but that gives way to dialogue and art after a of couple pages, as he lets the story unfold organically.  And, Rorschach’s trademark “Hurm” is used perfectly (and sparingly, Bryant).  A wonderful opening to a promising story, I cannot wait for Issue #2!      



Sam Rhodes


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