Those of us who remember the agonizing wait between new issues of the Watchmen limited series have at last endured through an even more momentous wait – the famed graphic novel has finally been released as a movie. Of course, many elements of the story had to be trimmed or chopped, but as a Cliff Notes version, it’s a very faithful adaptation, for the most part. Like the makers of the so-called Bram Stoker’s Dracula, though they are doing great right up to the end, they feel they have to have at least one really significant change. Don’t ask me why.
For the Howardian, the most interesting character is the masked crime-fighter Rorschach. An abused, fatherless child who grows into a misanthropic, violent and mentally unstable self-appointed vigilante, he has the contempt for mankind’s so-called civilization of a Conan and the uncompromising belief in his mission of a Solomon Kane. Played by relative unknown Jackie Earle Haley (Maniac Cop 3, All the King’s Men), he comes off as a young urban distopian Clint Eastwood character, kind of like Dirty Harry without the badge and sartorial niceties. While other characters like Nite Owl, Ozymandias and Silk Specter have clearly trained in various martial arts, Rorschach just crudely brutalizes his enemies. Like Conan, he is born into violence, and it is as natural to him as anything else. If Howard had lived to write for an EC comics masked-detective line, this is the kind of character he would be likely to create.
LEO ADDS: To guys like me who were birthed in the Seventies and hit double digits in the early Eighties, Jackie Earle Haley will always be remembered for his roles in The Bad News Bears and Breaking Away. Very nice to see him regain a mainstream Hollywood career after fifteen years in the wilderness.