WATCHMEN: Would Rorschach Support The Seventh Kavalry?

Rorschach may be an iconic Watchmen character, but it's easy to see how his actions can inspire a hate group - and he might be fine with it.

Rorschach and the 7th Kavalry

HBO's new flagship show, Watchmen, has caused quite a stir within the comic book community. Most notably with fans of the ink-blot-masked objectivist vigilante, known to the world as Rorschach (or Walter Kovacs when he's not punishing child-killers). Taking place decades after the events of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' critically acclaimed superhero graphic novel, the series by showrunner Damon Lindelof tackles modern issues such as racism and hate groups through the lens of the Watchmen mythos. While some have criticized Watchmen's tonal differences from its source material, one of the biggest complaints is regarding a fictional White supremacist group that has taken a shocking level of inspiration from one of Alan Moore's most recognizable characters.

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Known as the 7th Kavalry (the "K" likely a nod to the Ku Klux Klan), Rorschach's cult openly kill cops, and post videos of themselves condemning "race traitors," all while wearing cheap versions of Rorschach's iconic inkblot mask. Based on the first few episodes as well as HBO's tie-in website Peteypedia, the terrorist group is heavily inspired by Rorschach's (now published) crime journal from the origin series. Aside from hating the police (who also wear masks after the Defense of Police Act), the 7K believe the last few decades of "liberalism" under president Robert Redford are the result of an elaborate hoax orchestrated by billionaire and major Democratic Party contributor Adrian Veidt. They view Rorschach as a messiah figure who died in a crusade for the truth. But how would he feel about it?

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While parts of what the 7K believe are ironically true--Veidt (AKA the superhero turned supervillain Ozymandias) did in fact orchestrate a fake trans-dimensional alien attack that killed 3 million and Rorschach was indeed murdered to maintain the coverup--what has some comic book readers upset are the parallels HBO's Watchmen draw between the hate group's extreme right-wing views and that of Walter Kovacs himself. A few have even gone so far as to call the show "woke garbage." But as Alan Moore himself has pointed out repeatedly, Rorschach was never meant to be a role-model, but an honest look at Ayn Rand's objectivism, hyper nationalism, and moral absolutism.

Regina King as Angela in Watchmen Rorschach

Moore once described Ayn Rand's worldviews as laughable and "white supremacist dreams of a master race." Rorschach was created as a parody of Rand's philosophy called objectivism--a belief that puts one's own goals, ambitions, and self-interests above all else. Throughout Moore's book, Rorschach is portrayed as a loner who reacts to situations with self-gratifying violence and without much thought to how his deeds affect those around him. He's a cunning individual who can stave off a prison riot with the panache of MacGyver, but he's extremely apathetic in his methods. It should also be pointed out that many of Rand's views were themselves racist, notably her views on Arabs and Native Americans (she also inadvertently started her own cult). It's not so much that Rorschach would actively seek out ways to harm marginalized groups, but he likely wouldn't care if the blow-back from his actions inspired others to do exactly that.

Tying in the comics to the HBO show, Peteypedia describes Rorschach as a "profoundly alienated individual" who suffered years of childhood abuse and abandonment trauma at this hands of his mother, which led Kovacs to both embrace violence as a means to an end as well as adopt his "lone wolf" persona. This assessment is based off the profile created by Dr. Malcolm Long (whose son is the new Rorschach in Dc's Doomsday Clock) while serving as Rorschach's therapist in the comics. Though it's true that Kovacs never showed any direct signs of racism towards Long (who was Black), Rorschach's files also note his obsession with the far-right publication the New Frontiersman. While his love for the newspaper is likely attributed to its glowing praise of his vigilante exploits, the paper regularly published articles that play devil's advocate with racist groups such as the Klan and promoted Red Scare paranoia.

Watchmen 7th Kavalry

The fact that Kovacs had little issue with overlooking these problems with his one and only news source suggests he would likely do the same for the 7th Kavalry and their racist views. And Rorschach didn't just read the New Frontiersman, he chose it as the recipient of his sacred journal before his mission to confront Ozymandias in the final act of the comic series. If Kovacs didn't at least to some extent agree with the publication's extremist views, he likely wouldn't have given them his manifesto. And were it not for the New Frontiersman publishing Rorschach's journal, the 7K wouldn't exist at all. Rorschach wasn't racist enough to join a White supremacist group while he was alive... but he was clearly racist enough to inadvertently start one after death.

There are other aspects of Rorschach from the Watchmen comics that hint he would likely be (mostly) okay with inspiring the 7th Kavalry, a prime example being his disdain for "welfare cheats" who have different children with different men. A throwaway line, but one already stepping towards white supremacist and far-right leaning Conservative rhetoric and dog whistles. And while his one and only friend Dan Dreiberg a.k.a. Nite-Owl may possibly be Jewish (based solely on his last name), it seems the exception, not the rule. Kovacs showed repeatedly in the comics that his self-aggrandizing need to inflict frontier justice on the world overrides his limited compassion towards groups he doesn't identify or agree with. It's not a great leap to assume he would be relatively fine with a hate group working in honor of his memory.

Next: Watchmen: Biggest Comic Easter Eggs Hidden In Episode 3

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