HBO's upcoming Watchmen TV show, developed by Lost's Damon Lindelof, features a new version of the iconic vigilante Rorschach - but who exactly is under the mask? Set around thirty years after the events of Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and Dave Higgins' graphic novel, Watchmen will include Adrian Veidt a.k.a. Ozymandias and possibly other characters from the original story as well. However, it will be primarily focused on new characters and a fresh story, even moving the action from New York City to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Lindelof has insisted that his Watchmen isn't exactly a sequel, but has also said that the events of the graphic novel will remain canon. That means that the Rorschach we see in the TV show can't be Walter Kovacs, the original Rorschach, since he was blown to smithereens by Doctor Manhattan after threatening to reveal Ozymandias' evil scheme to the world. So, who is the new Rorschach, and why have they taken up that particular mask?
Here's what we know so far about HBO's Watchmen, shrouded in mystery though it is, and what it might tell us about the mysterious man under the Rorschach mask.
- This Page: What We Know About HBO's Watchmen & The New Rorschach
- Page 2: Doomsday Clock's New Rorschach vs. HBO's New Rorschach
The New Rorschach Emerges In A New Era Of Masks
Whereas masked vigilantes were once outlawed in the world of Watchmen, thirty years later it seems that masks have gone mainstream. Prominently featured in the teaser footage and promotional images for HBO's series are these police officers, all of whom wear yellow masks that cover their faces up to just underneath their eyes. When combined with the brims of their hats, it's nearly impossible to discern the identity of the officer under the mask. It's unclear when exactly the police in Tulsa adopted this new uniform, or whether police officers all over America wear similar masks. However, the police appear to be under the command of a mysterious character in a cowboy hat, who also wears a mask.
Also featured in the footage from Watchmen are two characters who also appear working with the man in the cowboy hat - one in a shiny gold mask, and one in a thicker, balaclava-like red mask. It's possible that these are also police officers, perhaps detectives who don't adhere to the same dress code as the beat cops. It's also possible that they're a new breed of vigilante. For now, we still have no idea if they are benevolent, malevolent, or something in between.
The New Rorschach Has A Different Kind Of Mask
The original Rorschach's mask was pretty unique. The fabric consisted of two layers with fluid in between, creating black shapes that shifted according to heat and pressure, creating an effect similar to the inkblot test developed by Swiss psychoanalyst Henrik Rorschach. The material was originally designed to be used in a woman's dress, but Walter Kovacs - who came across it while working for a dressmaker - took the leftover fabric home and used it to create a face that he could stand to look at in the mirror.
By contrast, the mask that we see in the teaser footage for HBO's Watchmen not only has eye holes, which the original Rorschach's never did, but also seems to have been made quite crudely out of simple white cloth. The black pattern on the front appears to have been simply spray-painted on and doesn't change its shape. It's possible that further footage will reveal the new Rorschach's mask to be more sophisticated than it first appears (or perhaps he'll get an upgrade), but what we've seen so far looks very clearly like a low-fi imitation of the real thing.