Outlines a world where Corporations plot global schemes, countries aggressively test their opponents boundaries; flirting with World War Three, Crime runs rampant, those not in power barely exist in their day to day lives, Politicians find ways to breach the constitution; circumventing term limits and exerting totalitarian authority, and the United States uses a super-weapon to hold their enemies at bay.
There are images of a doomsday clock throughout the story ticking closer to midnight, A manufactured event that takes the lives of millions in order to further an agenda, Mention of Free Energy, a descent into madness that ends in a family tragedy, Societal breakdown, and even a trip to mars. If I were not certain this was written in 1985, I would swear it were written today.
As time has gone by, I have watched myself become more and more familiar with Rorschach; the character I originally did not get at all when I first read this story (I was 13). He was a lunatic, and I used to feel that the more distance the other characters had from Rorschach the better. Now I read him as the only truly sane one of the lot of them... OK, not sane, but he understood the world they lived in better than any of them. A world that did not exist in 85' but pervades the world at large today.
"Rorschach's Journal. October 12th, 1985:
Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen it's true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"...
...and I'll look down, and whisper "no."
They had a choice, all of them. They could have followed in the footsteps of good men like my father, or President Truman. Decent men, who believed in a day's work for a day's pay. Instead the followed the droppings of lechers and Communists and didn't realize that the trail led over a precipice until it was too late. Don't tell me they didn't have a choice.
Now the whole world stands on the brink, staring down into bloody hell, all those liberals and intellectuals and smooth-talkers... and all of a sudden, nobody can think of anything to say." ~Rorschach