DC Comics’ Rorschach is turning out to be one of its most experimental titles. Writer Tom King, artist Jorge Fornes, colorist Dave Stewart, and letterer Clayton Cowles are always finding new ways to push the plot and medium in new directions. DC Comics’ Rorschach #9 takes some of the ongoing concepts of the series and uses them in their simplest forms.
King brings us back to the house that was discussed in the last issue. He shows The Kid and Rorschach as they train and talk there in the past. But he also shows us the detective that’s piecing this all together in the present. He walks through the property, looking for clues of what might have gone on. King shows us what Rorschach and The Kid said to one another, but the detective mostly stays silent. In a way, we begin to see the detective’s own similarities to Rorschach. And just as we begin to connect the two in our minds, King adds another element to the detective’s life. An element he accepts calmly and without pause. In fact, it leads him to talking through what he’s seeing out loud. It’s an unsettling thing that happens, yet it makes him feel at home. It speaks volumes about his character.
Fornes makes a point of slowing down the pace in this issue. Fornes shows us multiple versions of what feel like the same moment. We watch Rorschach walk through the house, and on the other half of the page we see the detective do the same thing. They’re different characters, at different times, but their actions and movement are the same. But Fornes also shows us small changes from one panel to the next on some pages. When Rorschach tells the Kid he thinks she’s a good shooter, Fornes gives us 6 panels to show her reaction. She seamlessly goes from laughing, joyfully, to crying at her own ineptitude. This issue feels incredibly slow, but it mirrors the gradual descent into madness that the characters are feeling. Fornes pulls the pacing back, so we can feel just as the characters do.
Stewart’s approach to this issue is refreshingly simple. He uses a straightforward color palette for the detective’s scenes, with an emphasis on yellow. These scenes show the detective walking through the house in the light of the day. He sees everything as it is, with no filter and no distortion. But the scenes with Rorschach and the Kid are shown through a purplish-blue haze. It has the look of watching a surveillance tape off of an old TV screen. It adds to the feeling that the detective can almost see into the past, that he is somehow privy to the same information we are. And so, Stewart’s coloring brings the walls down between these scenes. It acts as a marker for which scenes are present day and which are in the past, while simultaneously making it feel like a character can look from one time into another. How Stewart is able to do these seemingly contradictory things, and so simply, is anyone’s guess.
Cowles lures us into thinking of Rorschach and the detective as one and the same. The “Hm” of the detective is placed in the exact same part of the panel as Rorschach’s “Hurm,” two panels later. The same is true when they each use the phone. We see it from the same angle and their dialogue is placed in the same spots. And as the issue comes to a close, Rorschach sits down with the Kid at a table, grabs her hands and says “It will be good.” We see the detective sitting at that same table just a panel later. He looks down at the same spot where the lettering was a second ago, but nothing’s there. Just like Stewart, Cowles blends these times together and visually shows us how one time informs another.
Rorschach continues to be a fantastic series. The fact that it has the power to do jaw-dropping issues like issue 7 and simple, quiet, slow issues like this one, shows its incredible range. Pick up DC Comics’ Rorschach #9, out from DC Comics June 8th, at a comic shop near you!