"The Abyss Gazes Also": On October 25th, Clinical psychologist, Dr. Malcolm Long, examines Rorschach, whose public identity is Walter Kovacs, at Sing-Sing. Dr. Long hopes that he has the chance of helping Walter and as well finding out why he is so alienated and emotionally withdrawn.
- This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It's us. Only us. Streets stank of fire. The void breathed hard on my heart, turning its illusions to ice, shattering them. Was reborn then, free to scrawl own design on this morally blank world. Was Rorschach.
Appearing in "The Abyss Gazes Also"
- Gerald Grice (Dies in flashback)
- Crimebusters (Flashback only)
- Gloria Long
- Janey Slater (Flashback only)
- President Nixon (In a photograph only)
- Randy & Diana
- Sylvia Kovacs, nee Glick (Flashback only)
Synopsis for "The Abyss Gazes Also"
On October 25th, Clinical psychologist, Dr. Malcolm Long, examines Rorschach, whose public identity is Walter Kovacs, at Sing-Sing. Dr. Long hopes that he has the chance of helping Walter and as well finding out why he is so alienated and emotionally withdrawn.
Revealed through flashbacks and Dr. Long's notes, Walter was born in 1940 to Sylvia Kovacs. His father is unknown. His mother was a prostitute who resented his interference in her business, and abused him viciously. At age 10, Walter attacked two bullies that had cruelly abused him, partially blinding one with the bully's own lit cigarette. This incident lead the authorities to investigate Walter's home life and removed him from his mother's custody. Walter became a ward of the state and his life improved with excellence in schoolwork, although he is usually a quiet child.
On October 26th, Dr. Long continues his session with Walter and ask him to talk about his alter ego Rorschach. Walter suddenly tells Dr. Long that he doesn't like him for not understanding "pain" but agrees to tell about Rorschach. In 1956, Walter left the Children's home and became an unskilled laborer at a garment industry. Working in this capacity, in 1962 he grew fascinated by a new fabric made possible through technologies developed by Doctor Manhattan. Two viscous liquids, one black and one white, between two layers of latex, continually shifted in response to heat and pressure, forming symmetrical patterns like a Rorschach inkblot test while never mixing to produce a grey colour. Walter learned of the fabric when a young woman chose not to buy a dress which she had ordered made from it; subsequently Walter took the dress home and experimented with the fabric. He learned to cut the fabric and maintain the seal using heated scissors. By March 1964, Walter learned about the murder of Kitty Genovese in which she was raped and killed in front of a building full of tenants who didn't bother to help her. The murder convinced Walter to finally being ashamed of humanity.
Dr. Long tries to conclude that the Genovese murder made Walter to think that humanity is rotten and tries to reason that there are good people like himself. But Walter dismisses Dr. Long's claims and asking why he bother to spending time with him rather than the other violent inmates. When Dr. Long tries to explain that he wants to help Walter, but Walter believe otherwise and sees that Dr. Long wants to diagnose a more famous person to get to be known in the journals and know what makes him sick. Before being taken back to his cell, Walter enigmatically tells Dr. Long that he will soon find out what makes him sick. On the same day, Walter escaped an attempt on his life in the cafeteria by calmly and wordlessly grabbing a pot full of boiling cooking grease and hurling it into the assailant's face. Walter was hauled to solitary confinement and the assailant suffered from his burns. As he was being dragged away, Walter spoke to the other inmates: "None of your understand. I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked up in here with me."
The next day, Dr. Long picks up where Walter left off on becoming Rorschach. Dr. Long assumes that the Genovese murder inspired Walter to becoming Rorschach, but Walter replies that he wasn't Rorschach then. In his words, he was "Kovacs pretending to be Rorschach." At that time he was considered "soft" because he left criminals to live prior to 1975. In 1965, Rorschach was acquainted with Nite Owl II and became partners in bringing down street gangs and important criminal figures such as The Big Figure. But Walter considered Nite Owl and other costumed crime fighters to be soft and that none of them lasted long, except for the Comedian whom Walter considered him to truly understood how the world work. By the end of the interview, Walter states people like Rorschach and the Comedian do it "because [they] have to. We do it because we are compelled."
Dr. Long now knows that Walter wasn't compelled to become Rorschach not because of his childhood or the Genovese murder that caused him to overreact the injustice in the world, but something else. All the while his evaluation with Walter becomes an obsession for him and consequently causing damage to his marriage.
On October 28th, Dr. Long tries some more blot tests with Walter, as Dr. Long knows that his patient has been holding back on what he actually sees. Walter looks at one and answers that he sees a dog's head split in half. Walter then reveals to Dr. Long about the 1975 kidnapping case of six-year-old Blaire Roche in which he investigated. Rorschach found the captor's vacant hideout and learned to his horror that the girl had been murdered, butchered, and fed to two German Shepherd dogs. He killed the dogs with a meat cleaver and waited for the kidnapper. Once the man arrived, Rorschach wordlessly chained him to a pipe, ignoring his claims of innocence, then placed a hacksaw near him and set the house on fire. Finally speaking, he told the terrified man that he would not have time to cut through his restraints before the fire killed him (implying that he would have to sever his own arm to escape). Walter calmly watched the structure burn from across the street; the suspected kidnapper did not emerge. At this moment Rorschach ceased to be Walter Kovacs and became Rorschach. After finishing his story, Walter is taken back to his cell while Dr. Long is left shocked.
Dr. Long returns to his home with his previous optimistic outlook on life completely shattered. During a dinner party with guests invited by his wife Gloria, the guests start to tease Dr. Long about his interview with Walter. Unamused, Long tells them in detail about the murder of Claire Roche. The dinner soon ended with the guests quietly leaving. Gloria is furious and left Malcolm. Dr. Long sits on his bed looking over a Rorschach blot and trying to pretend it looked like a spreading tree, but it didn't. Instead, it reminds him of a dead cat he once found.
Appearing in "NYPD File: Walter J. Kovacs"
Synopsis for "NYPD File: Walter J. Kovacs"
- Synopsis not yet written.
- The title of this issue is based from a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche and which also appear at the end of the story: "Battle not with monsters, yest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you." This quote is directly commented by Dr. Long during his comments on Rorschach "[he] could stare at [Kovacs] for hours... except that he stares back." This also foreshadows Dr. Long's psychological journey through this issue.
- Grice's dogs Fred and Barney are likely named after Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble from The Flintstones.
- Grice's reaction to seeing the broken lock, alerting him to the presence of an intruder (Rorschach), calls back to Daniel Dreiberg's reaction to Rorschach's break-in in his home in issue #1.
- Dr. Long walks by the Hiroshima lovers graffiti (6:27:3). On the next panel, in contrast to the Hiroshima lovers, Malcolm and Gloria face away from each other.
- In Rorschach's file, the evidences confiscated by the police are: a "Sweet Chariot" sugar cube which was taken from Daniel Dreiberg's home in issue #1; the rose from the end of issue #2; the notebook is later explained to be the rough draft of his journal; the cologne was swiped from Daniel's apartment in issue #3; and the ground black pepper which Rorschach blinded an policeman from issue #5.
- Rorschach's New York State Psychiatric Hospital report contains typos, reflecting the hurried nature of its preparation.
- The Lillian Charlton Home for Problem Children where Kovacs was first housed is a reference to Charlton Comics, which is the home of the characters that served as inspiration for the cast of Watchmen.