SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Doomsday Clock #3, by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Brad Anderson and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
Ever since Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Doomsday Clock was announced, DC Comics reader have wondered what it would mean when Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen characters interacted with the rest of the DC Universe. Which characters would meet first? And how would they react to one another?
Issue #2 of the ambitious series ended with several cliffhangers, not the least of which was Batman and Rorschach coming face-to-face inside the former's batcave. Both characters are often viewed as the figureheads of their respective universes, and their first encounter was at top of fans' "what would happen if they met" list. Now, in Doomsday Clock #3, we see the two characters finally and properly team-up for their very first case together -- but the end result is something few readers expected to occur.
When Batman and Rorschach meet, the Dark Knight is surprisingly, perhaps uncharacteristically, calm. He has his guard up, but he also listens to what the new Rorschach has to say, perhaps recognizing that the man with the shifting face poses no immediate threat. Whatever the reason, Batman rolls with Rorschach's intrusion, no matter how surprised he is under the cowl. There is a bit of a humorous take on the first meeting between these two characters, a refreshing, if off-beat, tone that contrasts nicely with the darker proceedings of the rest of this chapter.
At Rorschach's behest, Batman sits down and reads Walter Kovac's journal -- quite thoroughly -- while Rorschach spends the night showering, resting and eating more pancakes. When he wakes up in his cushy Wayne Manor bed, the unmasked Rorschach, whose identity has yet to be fully revealed, finds Bruce Wayne waiting for him. Bruce tells him that he believes he knows where Dr. Manhattan is. Perfect -- this means the chase is on! Batman and Rorschach put on their costumes, and infiltrate the perimeter of Arkham Asylum as, apparently, equals. It's all as it should be.
Batman leads the way, telling Rorschach the signal from Doctor Manhattan's unique radiation signature is getting stronger, and Rorschach follows -- right up until Batman closes a door between them. Here, it dawns on Rorschach, as well as the readers, that everyone's favorite conspiracy theorist is locked up in a cell in Arkham Asylum. From the outside of the cell, Batman apologizes, explaining to his new prisoner that he belongs in here before walking away, leaving a screaming Rorschach angrily threatening the Dark Knight. An absolutely brutal, if characteristic, turn of events.
Reading Kovac's journal led Batman to a rather understandable conclusion: Rorschach is a dangerous man who belongs in an insane asylum. Essentially, Batman did what he always does. He listened to his trust issues, played it smart and tricked everyone. While this move is one that is true to the character, it's one that may prove somewhat difficult for readers to accept, since over the past three issues we've grown somewhat fond of this new, sympathetic Rorschach.
With so many wheels currently in motion, it's doubtful Rorschach will spend much time in Arkham, though there is some nice symmetry to it. After all, in the original Watchmen series, Walter Kovacs spent some time in prison where he was placed in the care of a psychiatrist. Perhaps his current state, then, is simply a rite of passage that comes with his decision to don the Rorschach mask.