What happens when Adrian Veidt’s plan is revealed? Of course, the world is going to go to hell. But, what does Superman have to do with DC Comics’ Doomsday Clock #1?
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Previously in The Watchmen: When we last left The Watchmen, a giant alien presence made itself known in a failed attack on New York City. Though thousands died, the failed attack brought the world together and stopped nuclear annihilation. (Nearly) everyone lived happily ever after.
It’s 1992, and Rorschach’s journal has been verified and a complete story of the alien hoax has been revealed to the public. Needless to say, everyone is out for Adrian Veidt’s head. Further, the President and his cabinet have been implicated in the coverup, and that sends the world to the brink of collapse with mere hours left before the nukes fly. Ozymandias believes if he can find Doctor Manhattan, the world will be saved, but he’s going to need help to make that happen. He enlists someone calling himself Rorschach, and two prison inmates – The Mime and The Marionette. Will the odd team save the world in time? Is it worth saving?
Doomsday Clock a big risk by DC Comics – especially after the tepid response from fans regarding the Before Watchmen series. Is this a story that is needed? Perhaps. As we’ve discussed with Dr. Peter Coogan on pat Major Spoilers Podcast, the sequel to Watchmen was already revealed at the end of the original series. Doomsday Clock just takes us to the next chapter. Geoff Johns has pushed the timeline forward far enough to put the world in a very different place, created a very different danger for the characters to overcome, and perhaps adds new metatext for us to discuss for years to come.
What made Watchmen so great was its commentary on comic book heroes in a grim and gritty world. Watchmen in turn pushed the grim and gritty even further in the minds of comics creators, who tried again and again to capture the magic of Watchmen, all while making their own creations grim and gritty – a never ending spiral. The Doomsday Clock world of Watchmen is the end result, a mess of a place that is set to destroy itself. Doomsday Clock almost feels like it is making a commentary on heroes and the comic book industry today – a place that has no reason to continue. A world/industry that has no hope.
I’m guessing that is the whole point of bringing Superman into the story. Like the recent change in Superman seen in Justice League, and the upcoming Action Comics #1000 just around the corner, I wonder how much metatext is going to be spent on a good and bright hero helping to save a grim and girtty world as a means to lead the industry (or at least DC Comics) into a less dark world of storytelling.
This issue raises even more questions that I hope get answered as the maxi-series plays out. Has Adrian seen the errors of his ways, or is he looking for a fast fix for his medical condition? Who is Rorschach? I think I know, but I want a solid confirmation. Are the two new characters going to get real development? Will Night Owl and Silk Spectre make an appearance, or are they gone for good?Is the Superman timeline also taking place in 1992, and if so, what does that mean for the heroes of the DCU? This story takes place the same year Superman died, did Doctor Manhattan have something to do with his Rebirth as Wally West described?
Johns has had successful runs on Flash, Green Lantern, and Superman, and I would bet his knowledge of the history of every character in the DCU rivals the biggest brains out there. At this point, I trust Johns to tell a story that will make sense, and will compliment the source material. Hopefully the end result will be a bright shining light that guides comics into a new age.
The first thing readers will notice is Gary Frank starts to follow the nine-panel grid, but soon breaks from that method. Yes, Dave Gibbons broke from his own technique throughout the issue, but I think Frank is doing something different. By the time the issue ends, it looks and feels like a typical comic book which tells us the world is very different. In fact, Frank may be telling us more about Superman’s world through panel layout than the world of The Watchmen that may end in a few hours.
Beyond the grid layout, which everyone is going to want to know about, I have little concern or problems with the art. Gary Frank’s art is fantastic on every page and panel, and Brad Anderson brings a color scheme that feels like 1986, but for an updated world of computerized coloring and slick high quality paper.
BOTTOM LINE: I’M INTRIGUED.
I’ll admit it, part of me thinks a follow up to The Watchmen is a bad idea, but after reading what Geoff Johns and company have delivered, I’m interested to see what happens next. The Watchmen universe isn’t part of the DC Universe in the way that people think – Rorschach and Batman aren’t having breakfast together, but the implication that Doctor Manhattan may have created, or at least manipulated Earth-Prime (or whatever we’re calling it these days) that we’ve been talking about for the last year is very much present as the issue ends.
I don’t think Doomsday Clock is a replacement for Watchmen. I don’t even think it rivals what Moore and Gibbons created over thirty years ago, but it is a solid outing that doesn’t try to wipe away what has come before. I’ll admit, I’m hooked.
I want to see if Ozymandias, “Rorschach”, The Mime and The Marionette are able to find Doctor Manhattan before the world ends, and I hope the end of the series doesn’t cause fans (hardcore and casual) to riot in the streets. This is a good issue, and one worth buying. I’m giving Doomsday Clock #1 a Must Buy Recommendation.