Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

April 19, 2012

Before "Before Watchmen" There Was Spain Rodriguez


I think Rorschach from Watchmen is a really good character. I've never had any desire to see more of the guy, but the character is used well in the story that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons decided to tell back in the mid-1980s. His jittery, unpleasant nature made the way he served as a contrast with the work's more typical gateway characters a lot of fun, and gave the superhero series a great deal of energy perhaps under-appreciated now that a lot of similar characters have been shunted to the front of the stage in other, lesser works. To some readers, he dominated, and not always to positive effect. One could argue that one of the major seeds of Before Watchmen lies in the fact that many of the foundational work's initial readers latched onto Rorschach not for the critical eye he cast on the rigid morality that would almost certainly come with someone that decided to pursue dress-up vigilanteism but out of a desperate desire to be at some point in their lives the scariest guy in the room.

I think Trashman is a great character, and I appreciate that he seems to be taken largely as he's intended -- an expression of Spain Rodriguez's unique take on working-class politics and leftist ideology. It's worth noting that while many of Rorschach's biggest fans seem to have been comics fans taken with the cultural benefits of unflinching moral codes and the vigor to impose one's will on a desperate situation, Trashman was appreciated and adopted by actual scary people like the Weathermen. It's also refreshing when any character is about something other than commentary on the genre in which he appears. While one may see Trashman as a kind of Punisher-like solitary vigilante with his own set of things to say about what that means, it's worth reminding that one of the character's powers was changing into the previous week's issue of the East Village Other -- a kind of built-in "Before Trashman." Let's see Walter Kovacs do that.

Spain Rodriguez 2, Before Watchmen 0
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink

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