Who Guards the Guardian?
In some of the recent interviews I've done regarding Twilight Guardian, I've noted that the book seems to serve as a real Rorschach test for her audience. How a reader responds to the one-shot can tell us a great deal about his/her take on comics, on superheroes, on the narrative form, and on and on. In fact, it's one of the facets of the book that makes me particularly proud.
Last night, though, I realized that Twilight Guardian herself is going through something of a Rorschach test as well. With the advent of the Watchmen movie, I've started reading the trade paperback collection to my girlfriend Lea (one of the nice things about our Felix/Oscar, Carville/Matalin relationship is that she's almost completely unfamiliar with the world of comics, which allows me to see a lot of my favorite things anew through her eyes).
As I read the first-person narratives from "Rorschach's Journal," I was struck by the similarities to TG's own nightly reports, and I began thinking about the two charactyers, about their differences and commonality.
Obviously, they're both masked crimefighters who prowl the night. They're both fiercely dedicated to the concept of justice. They've even both worked in the garment industries in their secret identities (I'm never going to look at One-hour Martinizing the same way again). But are they really cut from the same cloth?
When it comes down to it, Rorschach is an ultra-violent vigilante, while TG has never done anything more extreme than marring the paint of an expensive car. Rorschach is definitely a cynical misanthrope, but Twilight Guardian seems to retain a genuine bond with and affection for the people of her nine-block "watch."
Rorschach, through the lineage of the Question (the character he was originally going to be), was spawned by the Randite/objectivst beliefs of the great Mr. Steve Ditko. And Twilight Guardian? Well...I guess she was spawned by the rampant insomnia and night-time wanderings of the not-so-great Mr. Troy Hickman.
So, given their similar drives, their shared obsessions (and my own love for both characters), what has kept our heroine from becoming another Rorschach? At the risk of going all Hallmark on you, I think it's love. Rorschach was raised, if you can use that word, by an abusive prostitute. Twilight Guardian's mother, on the other hand, is a woman who bakes raspberry squares and buys sock monkeys from church rummage sales for her adult daughter. Rorschach was never shown having any sort of romantic connection with another human being, while we know that TG has experienced at least one great love.
Ah, but perhaps that's where the questions begin. We know that the aforementioned love is a love lost, and we might well assume it's part and parcel of what drives TG into the night. So, having potentially lost that firewall between grim avenger and the "friendly policeman on the corner," is Twilight Guardian destined to become...something else? Will she eventually trade in her deer jerky and funnybooks for breaking fingers and dropping perps down elevator shafts?
Only time will tell. Time, and readers' continued interest in knowing the truth. So keep voting Twilight Guardian, my friends, and we shall see.
Troy Hickman, August 14 2008