As Walter Kovacs, aka Rorschach, himself might say : “Hurm.”
We’re now at the halfway point of this four-issue series and it’s safe to say that I’m just flat-out unsure what to make of it. In this issue, our favorite vigilante-in-a-pattern-shifting-mask winds up in the hospital on the heels of the ass-kicking he took last time around, runs an 18-wheeler into some small-time dope dealers (or maybe they’re pimps — or both), eschews the only female contact he’s probably had in decades, and starts in on a new mission of getting even with the crime lord who left him for dead in the sewers, a crime lord who, incidentally, has now gotten wind that leaving Rorschach for dead is a far cry from making sure he well and truly is dead.
It’s certainly every bit as bloody and gritty as you’d expect (and then some), but it in no way surprises the reader or delivers anything you might call even close to being unexpected, so in that respect it’s a fairly gutless and pedestrian piece of work. Which isn’t to say it’s bad by any stretch of the imagination, just that it’s all so highly predictable. Writer Brian Azzarello seems determined to pretty much just, as the Brits would say, “give the punters what they want,” and leave it at that. Which is, clearly and self-evidently, not what Watchmen as envisioned by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons was all about. So it’s fair to say I’m a bit torn on the overall effectiveness of this book — and its relegation of its serial-killer subplot involving a psycho called “The Bard” doesn’t help matters much, either.
Another thing that doesn’t work as well in this series’ second installment is Lee Bermejo’s art. It’s okay, but it looks rushed and semi-sloppy compared compared to issue number one, where eye for detail for was really a strong suit. I think Bermejo still gives a shit, don’t get me wrong, and most of this issue looks good enough, but it lacks some of the almost-photo-realism we got last time, which is something of a bummer. Ah well.
In summation, then, Before Watchmen : Rorschach #2 (variant covers, as shown, by Bermejo and Jock, respectively) is just — alright. I can’t point to anything out-and-out lousy about it, but it seems content to rest of its laurels and just deliver more or less exactly the type of thing we’re expecting. That might make for involving enough and interesting enough reading, but gosh, is it too much for me to wish for something a little bit inspired somewhere in the midst of this whole Before Watchmen project somewhere?