Who's it by?
Before Watchmen: Rorschach #3 is written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Lee Bermejo. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair back-up is written and drawn by original series colourist John Higgins.
Rorschach continues his investigation into pimp Rawhead and his gang, as well as the murderer known as The Bard. His alter-ego Walter Kovacs attempts to woo a friendly waitress at the Gunga Diner.
What's the verdict?
Before Watchmen: Rorschach #3 continues to draw the atmospheric but shallow feeling series towards its climax. While not a bad issue, it highlights many of the problems that continue to dog the controversial prequel project.
What has become obvious throughout the various miniseries is a general uncertainty about what to do with these characters. The weaker outings have fallen into revisiting the events of the original title from a different perspective (as in Ozymandias) or inventing cartoonish and throwaway villains with generic evil plots (see Silk Spectre and Nite Owl).
Rorschach falls into the second category, and is actually the second time in Before Watchmen that the anti-hero has faced down a murderer who preys on women. It is difficult to pay attention to the plot when it represents such a throwaway effort.
Where Brian Azzarello does get it right is with his portrayal of Rorschach. His characterisation is pretty much spot on, bringing to life the terse character as if he just stepped over from Alan Moore's original script. The one jarring note is Kovacs's attempt to ask the waitress for dinner. Unless Azzarello is waiting to surprise us in the final issue, this is not the sort of thing a reader would ever expect of the character.
Bermejo continues a theme of strong artistic talent on the project, his gritty and almost hyper-real artwork being the perfect choice to bring Rorschach's harsh world to life. His characters - particularly the chatty taxi driver - are utterly beautiful, although perhaps this does backfire in the case of Kovacs's civilian persona, who comes out more attractive than the gawky misfit should be. The continuity from the front cover to first panel - as in the original Watchmen series - is a nice touch that could have worked throughout the project.
Before Watchmen: Rorschach #3 is a perfectly serviceable tale with a heavy dose of atmosphere and style, but the overall impression is unfortunately of a series which is not likely to be remembered in the long-run.
> Buy the digital version of Before Watchmen: Rorschach #3
> Read our review of Before Watchmen: Rorschach #2
> Read our Before Watchmen interview with Dan DiDio
Watch a trailer for Before Watchmen below: