Rorschach #4 introduces an alternate theory about what happened to the vigilante — as well as his fellow Watchmen.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Rorschach #4 by Tom King, Jorge Fornés and Dave Stewart, on sale now.
In the original Watchmen series by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins, the fan-favorite character Rorschach suffered a brutal end when he was pulverized by Dr. Manhattan. The death of Walter Kovacs came when the vigilante made it clear he wouldn’t stop trying to expose Adrian Veidt’s machinations to achieve world peace. And yet, despite the character’s famous death at the end of the series, Rorschach is once again the focus in his own Black Label series.
Rorschach is set in the present, and it follows an unnamed investigator who is trying to find out if the vigilante somehow returned with a new sidekick to try an assassinate presidential candidate Turley. From the start of the series, the comic has been asking if the character could truly have survived his death. Now, in Rorschach #4, the comic presents an alternate theory about what happened to Walter Kovacs at the end of the original Watchmen.
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In Rorschach #3, the investigator found the diary of Laura Cummings, aka The Kid, and learned her origin story. She was raised by a military man who brainwashed her into believing that the alien squids who had supposedly attacked New York City would one day return. Now, in issue #4, the investigator continues to learn more about Laura. This time, he visits one of her old acquaintances, a former circus strongman named Muscles who was arrested after killing multiple people.
Muscles and Laura both worked at the same circus and, for a while, they were quite close. But after Muscles killed a man to protect Laura, the dynamic of their relationship was altered. Laura was able to convince him that he had the very soul of Rorschach inside of him. Not a metaphorical soul, mind you — the actual energy of Rorschach’s person, reincarnated inside Muscles.
Laura believes that Dr. Manhattan killed all of the members of the Watchmen team (except for Adrian Veidt, who is publicly alive), and dispersed their souls into the bodies of other people in other to protect them from the squids. According to her theory, all of the Watchmen are still alive out there in the world, hiding in other people’s bodies.
It’s certainly an interesting theory because it could make sense in a comic book setting — but we know that it isn’t true. Of course, Dr. Manhattan didn’t kill the other Watchmen. But from the point of view of someone who doesn’t have all the information of the readers — someone who has been raised to believe in alien squids that can control the minds of the people closest to them — this theory could seemingly make a lot of sense.
However, this revelation also shows the unfortunate dangers of such a theory. With this story, Laura was able to convince Muscles to suit up as Rorschach and kill several people. When he got caught, she simply cut all ties with him and started all over again with Wil Myerson, convincing him to become Rorschach and attempt to kill presidential candidate Turley with her. It’s unclear if she is simply manipulating these men or if she actually believes everything she is saying. In any event, it shows that those who are easily manipulated and those who are eager to believe can be transformed into something truly dangerous.
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