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This comic shouldn’t exist. Rorschach #7 throws out the rulebook. It’s not a comfortable, exciting, neo noir thriller. It’s an uncomfortable and experimental dissection of the comic book medium. Writer Tom King, artist Jorge Fornes, colorist Dave Stewart, and letterer Clayton Cowles aren’t here to provide a mainstream fluff piece. With DC Comics’ Rorschach #7, they’re breaking all the rules to show that they mean business.
King’s boldness rivals that of Quentin Tarantino in this issue. He seamlessly melds together his own version of history with the events of his story. Real people, though the details about them have been fictionalized, not only appear in the story but they play major roles in moving the plot forward. But the plot almost seems secondary to King’s interests. He’s more interested in discussing the medium of comics. After all, that’s what much of our investigation into the life of this new Rorschach has turned out to be.
Wil Myerson, the man behind the mask, is a comic book writer. And so, we not only learn more about his work and drive, but about how his work has touched others. In this issue, King discusses the legacy a comic book writer leaves behind and the huge shoes one comic writer must fill when a predecessor has reinvented a character. And through all this, King never loses sight of his plot. Though it’s clear King’s main goal is to discuss comics, he sprinkles in clues to where this is all headed. For every epiphany we get about the medium, we also get one about the characters and plot. It’s interesting, nuanced, and incredibly close to home.
Fornes is living in an artist’s playground in this issue. We see Watchmen-esque versions of famous comic covers. We see alternate versions of The Dark Knight Returns and Amazing Fantasy #15. His ability to effortlessly move from the style of the 60’s to modern figures is incredible. We get glimpses of panels that come right out of Watchmen itself. Through all of this, Fornes manages to maintain his own unique style, while borrowing from the styles of others. Yet the scenes that are actually occurring in the comic couldn’t be more different than those other time periods. Fornes makes the whole thing feel cinematic. We focus in on the small changes, watching a door close or seeing someone press buttons on a tape recorder. Fornes takes us on a tour of the medium’s highlights, all while sticking to his subtle approach to this story.
We’ve seen in past issues that colors mean something in Rorschach. Myerson’s memories are often shown in a red tint. He’s a very angry person and that colors everything he does. But Laura’s scenes are often shown with bright yellows. When she meets Myerson, their colors begin to coincide. They complete one another. In this issue, we see similar things happen. We see Myerson’s red memories and Laura’s yellow aura. But when they go to meet a third party, it’s clear they leave their mark. Stewart shows us, when the detective meets this third party, that Laura and Wil still occupy this man’s mind. We stare down at the scene, looking at the red table with yellow chairs. It’s as though Laura and Wil never left.
There’s something about placing captions at the bottom of a page that makes a character’s thoughts sound defeated. Cowles knows this and uses it to his advantage. When we meet with this mysterious character who met Wil years ago, he explains what it was like to meet one of his heroes. He’s doing a pretty good job, in what he’s saying at least, to not sound disappointed. But it’s clear he was. “I didn’t speak to him again for what? Fifty years,” he finally says. Cowles places this all the way in the corner. But later, when he reconnects with Laura and Wil, Cowles shows this man succumb to their charm. As he sees them out, we see captions narrating his thoughts. Each caption is lower than the one before, like stairs going down the page. Cowles gives us a visual representation of a man giving in to insanity, slowly letting it take his will.
There isn’t anything like Rorschach #7. And there probably won’t be anything like it again. This creative team is actively pushing themselves to shake things up. And they’re breaking all kinds of rules to do it. DC Comics’ Rorschach #7 is a fantastic discussion of the comic book medium and a brilliant next step in this incredible plot. Pick up Rorschach #7, out from DC Comics April 13th, and prepare to have your mind blown.