Writer Tom King sent comic fandom on a wild goose chase when he tweeted a single black-and-white page of art from his next top secret project. Of course, King is already quite busy, shepherding the main Batman title on a twice-monthly schedule, as well as co-helming a new Mister Miracle series alongside artist Mitch Gerads, which was itself a secret series he teased on Twitter back in April.
Which leads us back to King’s latest mystery tweet and the question of what he’s teasing this time. After looking at the clues in the art, and keeping in mind the mystery and hype surrounding the impending arrival of the Watchmen characters in the DC Universe, we think we’ve been given our very first look at a DCU story starring Watchmen iconic anti-hero Rorschach. Hrm… Could be.
Now, we may not know beyond a doubt who the artist who worked on this page is, but highly-detailed style of cross-hatching would indicate it to be the work of superstar DC artist Jason Fabok. Interestingly, Fabok took to Twitter about an hour after King to share a drawing from a secret project he’s working on “with a secret writer.” Fabok’s image is nothing more than a drawing of snow, but when looked at alongside the art King shared, begins to offer some more clues. The five-panel page in King’s tweet appears to take place in a snow-covered area, leading us to believe Fabok and King are indeed working together once again. The pair previously teamed on Batman #21, the first chapter in the four-part crossover between The Flash and Batman titles, “The Button” — which just so happened to be a Watchmen-fueled story.
So why do we think King and Fabok are teasing a Rorschach comic, out of all possible projects and all possible DC characters? It’s pretty simple, really. Thanks to Fabok’s tweet — “Lots of SNOW!” — we know his secret project involves a frozen setting. Rorschach, one of the central protagonists of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen series, met his end outside of Ozymandias’ Antarctic base, a place where snowstorms are the norm. When Rorschach came to learn of the horrible truth of what Ozymandias had done to save the world, he resolved to expose him and his crimes, declaring that the only way to stop him would be to kill him. Manhattan listened, and seemingly disintegrated his former teammate, leaving behind nothing but a pattern of blood on the snow.
But what if Rorschach hadn’t been entirely blown to bits? What if there were still a few pieces of his body intact? The piece of art shared by King offers a close-up look at a severed hand. But it doesn’t appear to have been cut off; rather, it looks as though was torn or blown off. A vestige, perhaps, of Manhattan’s atomic attack on the vigilante, the remnant of an anti-hero who could have changed the fate of his world.
It’s been hinted that Rorschach is set to arrive in the DCU, at least in some capacity, in the pages of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Doomsday Clock. The series’ first lenticular cover teased this possibility, as did as a promo piece featuring Batman reading Rorschach’s famous journal. If Rorschach is indeed on the horizon, it would make sense to detail exactly how, when and where his resurrection took place, not to mention how he finds himself in the same reality as Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman and the rest of the Justice League.
In the artwork, it appears that there are people kneeling on either side of the hand as it begins to burn. Silk Spectre and Nite Owl were both inside Ozymandias’ lair when Rorschach was killed, neither of them aware of their ally’s fate. It’s possible that the two people kneeling in the art King tweeted are Daniel Dreiberg and Laurie Jupiter, perhaps offering a eulogy of sorts to their fallen friend, burning the last bit of him to say goodbye. If that is the case, it would appear that we’re going to see what happened moments after the end of the original Watchmen series, and learn how it’s possible for a character who was obliterated by Doctor Manhattan to return to life.
Bringing Rorschach back to life is a pretty risky undertaking. As a fan-favorite character, expectations will run high for any story involving his return, and people will be quick to criticize if it fails short of expectations. But so far, Rebirth’s track record has earned pretty solid trust from readers, with King and Fabok’s work on “The Button” earning more praise than criticism for its Watchmen influences and story. DC does seem to have a plan, and if it involves Rorschach, fans have good reason to be excited. If anyone can pull it off gracefully, it’s the team of King and Fabok.
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