The son of a prostitute and an unknown father, the young Walter Kovacs was raised in poverty. Physically and emotionally abused by his mother and occasionally by her johns, he was removed from her care following an incident in which he severely injured two bullies. He was placed in a children's home, where he thrived and remained until age 16, when he became a garment worker. Deeply affected by the murder of Kitty Genovese, he fashioned some cast-off material into a mask and became the masked crime-fighter Rorschach. He continued as a relatively benign hero for several years, working occasionally with Nite Owl, until he was involved in the investigation into the kidnapping of a young girl. Spending several days investigating, Rorschach found that the child had been murdered and fed to dogs shortly before he arrived. Horrified, he killed the dogs and burned the killer to death. This event galvanized his instability, driving him to forever abandon his identity as Kovacs, and to describe the Rorschach identity as his true self.
Rorschach was created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. He made his first appearance in Watchmen #1. He is closely based on the comic book characters The Question and Mr A.
Major Story Arcs
Following the murder of the Edward Blake, whom he soon discovers to be the Comedian, Rorschach becomes increasingly obsessed with unravelling the web of conspiracy that surrounded him, and which continues to permeate the lives of the former masked heroes. He begins warning fellow masked heroes that he believes a mask killer is operating and may target them next, though most brush him off. He visits the home of former villain Edgar Jacobi, who explains that a distraught Blake had visited him a week previously. Following Dr Manhattan's self-exile after allegations that he gave those close to him cancer, Rorschach becomes further convinced of a sinister plot. This view is strengthened when Adrian Veidt is the target of an assassination attempt. He receives a note apparently from Jacobi requesting a meeting so he can provide Rorschach with further information. Rorschach goes, only to find that Jacobi has been murdered and somebody has set him up. He is sent to prison and remains there for some time before using a riot, and subsequent attempt by a former enemy to seek revenge, to escape. His escape is aided by Dan Dreiberg and Laurie Juspeczyk. Together with Dreiberg he visits several sources seeking information, along the way unravelling the nature of the conspiracy, including that Veidt has been orchestrating events all along. He posts his journal to a newspaper and travels to Veidt's headquarters in Antarctica. There, he and Dreiberg confront the man, who easily bests them in physical combat. Veidt is able to convince all the gathered heroes to allow his plot to fake an alien invasion of New York to continue, but Rorschach refuses to compromise. He attempts to leave the compound and reveal Veidt's actions, but is stopped by Dr Manhattan. Still unwilling to compromise, he demands that Dr Manhattan kill him, which he does.
Investigating an organized criminal operation dealing primarily in drugs and prostitution, Rorschach is beaten and left for dead. Severely wounded, he is committed to a hospital by the waitress at the Gunga Diner. He continues to hunt for the gang, while developing a tentative relationship with the waitress. During a citywide blackout he is captured by the gang, but manages to escape following the deaths of both the leader, at the hands of a mob, and his second-in-command, who is killed by a tiger. Later, he joins forces with Nite Owl, and becomes involved in an investigation into missing and murdered prostitutes. Simultaneously, he is working for a reverend, who is ultimately revealed to be the culprit. He is captured and nearly burned to death by the reverend, but rescued by Nite Owl. He stabs the reverend through the chest with his picket sign, declaring that it had to be done.
The character of Rorschach is heavily based on the Question, which has lead to an interesting feedback loop in which depictions of Question subsequent to Watchmen's publication have displayed Rorschach-like behaviour. Rorschach appears as a fictional character in an issue of the Question's series.
A version of Rorschach appears briefly in a metahuman club alongside The Question and Obsidian.
Rorschach makes a cameo appearance in this series.
Rorschach, referred to as Spottyman, appears as a major character in this parody comic.
A version of Darkwing Duck physically resembling Rorschach appears during the Crisis on Infinite Darkwings storyline.
Rorschach makes a cameo appearance in this Marvel comic as a person present during a riot.
Powers and Abilities
Rorschach possesses no superhuman powers or abilities. He is in excellent physical condition, and is a skilled gymnast and acrobat. He is a pragmatic and efficient hand-to-hand combatant, with extensive training and experience in boxing and street combat. He is very resourceful, and has demonstrated a particular gift for improvising weaponry. He is stoic and unmoved by pain or physical discomfort, and has a very strong will, which enables him to shake off or ignore exhaustion or wounds. He is very intelligent, and a gifted tactician, which is heightened by his mental instability, and thus unpredictability as an opponent. He has demonstrated great competency in espionage, infiltration, interrogation, and investigation.
Weapons and Equipment
Rorschach wears an ever-shifting mask of black and white liquids trapped between two layers of latex. He carries a grappling gun which he uses to scale buildings.
The Mindscape of Alan Moore
Rorschach appears briefly in this documentary film about his creator. He is voiced by Alan Moore.
Watchmen: The Motion Comic
Rorschach appears as a main character in this motion comic adaptation of the series. He is voiced by Tom Stechschulte
Rorschach appears as the main character in this feature film adaptation of the series. Some changes are made to the character and his actions in the movie, but it largely remains true to the comic. He is portrayed by Eli Snyder as a child, and by Jackie Earle Haley as an adult.
Watchmen: The End is Nigh
Rorshach appears alongside Nite Owl as a playable character in this video game, which is set during their partnership in 1977. Jackie Earle Haley reprises the role.
Saturday Morning Watchmen
Rorschach appears as one of the main characters in this animated parody of the Watchmen. He is voiced by Harry Partridge.