I am torn when it comes to DC’s new big event in Doomsday Clock. On one hand, I am excited about the possibility of an explanation for the New 52 and the Rebirth of the real DCU. On the other hand, I am a strong believer that The Watchmen is a self contained story that belongs in its own universe. I was never impressed with the Beyond Watchmen titles that DC rolled out a few years ago. It was a transparent cash grab that did nothing but detract from the original story. I fear that the same is going to be the case with Doomsday Clock.
Having said that, DC has assembled an excellent creative team for Doomsday Clock. Geoff Johns and Gary Frank is a creative duo that is about as good as you are ever going to get. I would never pick Johns to handle an Alan Moore franchise. Johns is a completely different writer. Someone like Grant Morrison, Jonathan Hickman or Tom King would have made for a better stylistic choice to follow Moore. But, the second half of this creative duo? Gary Frank? Well, that is the perfect spiritual successor to Dave Gibbons. No matter the quality of the story I know that Doomsday Clock is going to look like The Watchmen.
All right, with all of that said, let’s hope for the best and hit this review for Doomsday Clock #1.
Words: Geoff Johns
Art: Gary Frank
Colors: Brad Anderson
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin in November 22, 1992. People are protesting outside of Veidt Enterprises’ building. We get some post Donald Trump election narration about people being intolerance. About the Totalitarians standing their ground as they preach about a return to a rose-colored republic. That the Totalitarians are unaware that for those not like them the good old days weren’t so good. Depends on your perspective.
The narrator says that the angry mob slit open the world’s belly. “Secrets come spilling out. An intestine full of truth and shit strangled us.” The narrator says that the world does not deserve peace. That maybe the world should burn. The narrator says, “We shattered the American Dream. This is the American Nightmare.” (Ooof. This is some melodramatic and heavy handed narration. I hope the entire issues is not like this or it is going to be tough to take this issue seriously.)
We see the angry mob storming through the Veidt Enterprises building. There is a wall of television sets. The news reports that the Vice President has shot and killed the Attorney General. That the standoff enters the 15th hour and there are 17 hostages including the Israeli Prime Minister.
Another news report says that the President shot a hole in one earlier today. Another news report says that less than two weeks ago the European Union suffered a complete collapse. That Russia has amassed an army in Belarus and is threatening to invade Poland.
Another news report says that North Korea is now capable of reaching Texas. Another news report says that hundreds have broken through the wall and flooded into Mexico. Thousands more are expected to follow. (It is odd to have a story set in 1992 with political issues that perfectly mirror what is going on in 2017. Not sure that was the most logical route to take.)
Another news report says that the global manhunt for Adrian Veidt, Ozymandias, is underway. The US Government believes that the arrest and conviction of Veidt will absolve the US Government of any accusations of collusion in the New York City massacre. Russia intelligence insists that the President and his cabinet were willing participants in the massacre.
We learn that President Robert Redford was re-elected based on a campaign promise to find and arrest Adrian Veidt. The news report recounts the event of the end of The Watchmen concerning Veidt’s staged alien attack on New York City that caused the death of three million people. An investigation was conducted to see if anyone else was working with Veidt. So far there have been no signs of Veidt’s former teammates or Dr. Manhattan.
We see an army squad arriving outside of Veidt’s hidden lair in Antartica. A news report says that Veidt was least seen on national television when he revealed that he had cancer. It was theorized that this cancer was caused by Dr. Manhattan himself. A news report says that Nite Owl and Rorschach have been inactive and their current whereabouts are unknown. The Silk Spectre has vanished. That Rorschach’s journal had been deciphered and verified by independent investigations before it was stolen.
We see the soldiers make their way through Veidt’s hidden lair. They arrive at a medical lab. We see an x-ray of a human head. Inside of the skull we see what appears to be a round spot or tumor.
We see the National News Network on one of the TV screens. William F. Buckley, Jr. says he is speaking to the viewers on behalf of the President of the United States of America. He reports that Russia has invaded Poland. That the evil of the world has forced their hands. That if the Russian military does not withdraw within four hours then the President will have no choice but to launch the full force of their military might. He reports that a mandatory evacuation has been issues across the country. Citizens are urged to make their way clear of the designated red zones.
We cut to a prison. We see a prisoner grab a prison guard and demand that the guard let him out of his cell. Suddenly, Rorschach appears on the scene. He punches out the prison guard and picks up the cell door keys. Rorschach asks the prisoner if he still wants to be let out of his cell. The prisoner says, “No. No way, man. I’m cool.” (I’m calling it now. That is not the real Rorschach. And this version of Rorschach is not white.)
Rorschach heads to cell #31. He opens the door. Inside is Erika Manson aka The Marionette. We also see the keys to the nuclear weapons being unlocked so a launch can be commenced. A voice narrates that Veidt’s global data exchange program from 1989 has left the country exposed. That their analysis of the information they shared with the Russians suggest that the Russians could wipe out America’s entire infrastructure before America could even launch a response. The voice says that the countdown has begun and they are waiting on the President’s word.
We cut back to New Rorschach in the Marionette’s cell. The Marionette says that Rorschach is dead. New Rorschach tells Marionette to come with him. Marionette says that the last time Rorschach was with her that he threatened to kill her the next time they met. New Rorschach says that he is not the original Rorschach. (Called it.)
Marionette asks the New Rorschach to prove that he is not the same guy as the original Rorschach. New Rorschach says he is tired of having to prove it. New Rorschach pulls off one of his gloves and shows the Marionette his hand. New Rorschach is black. (Called it, again.)
Rorschach hands Marionette an envelope and says that he has a job for her. Marionette comments that she heard that the real Rorschach killed himself. Marionette opens the envelope and pulls out a photograph of a little boy. New Rorschach says that the picture is a little old. But, if Marionette comes with him and agrees to do the job then she will get the location of the boy.
Marionette goes into a rage and slams New Rorschach against the wall. Marionette yells, “Where’s my son?” New Rorschach says that he does not know. New Rorschach says that his partner knows the location. That New Rorschach just does what his partner asks. Marionette asks what New Rorschach wants. He replies “Find God. Save World. Will explain.”
New Rorschach says that they need to hurry. That they only have three hours and thirty-four minutes left. That if Marionette does the job then she will see her son. Marionette says that if New Rorschach is lying about her son then she will tear his balls off.
Marionette then says that she is not coming without her husband. New Rorschach says that her husband is not part of the deal. Marionette replies that it is either both of them or New Rorschach can take his deal and shove it up his ass. New Rorschach says that they need to go. That the world is dying. Marionette replies, “To hell with the world.”
Marionette looks at the picture of her son. She says, “Out beautiful boy. Mommy and Daddy miss you so much.” New Rorschach says that it is good to have family. He then asks where is Marcos Maez aka The Mime being held.
We cut to another part of the prison. We see several prisoners have broken free of their cells. They attack a prison guard and beat him up. One of the prisoners says that he wants more than the guard’s keys. (Uhhhh, ooookay.) The prisoner hands the keys to another prisoner and tells him to open all of the cells. The prisoner says that they are all going to get a turn with the guard. (Grrrreeeat.)
We see the prisoner being ass raping the prison guard. The guard begins screaming. Another prisoner points out that the “mute” is in his cell staring at the other prisoner while he ass rapes the prison guard. (I did not think I would be typing about ass rape when reviewing this issue.) The prisoner asks the “mute” what he is looking at. (The “mute” is The Mime.)
The prisoners open up the Mime’s cell. Five prisoners pull the Mime out of his cell. The prisoners start beating the crap out of the Mime. Rorschach and Marionette arrive on the scene. Marionette yells “Come on! We’re leaving!” Marionette says that she knows the Mime is in the middle of a performance but they have to go. Rorschach asks what is going on. Marionette replies that Mime likes to play the underdog before the big dramatic turn.
Suddenly, the Mime brutally kicks ass on all five prisoners. Marionette tells Rorschach to hush. That the Mime does not like people walking during his act. Suddenly, the Mime brutally kicks ass on all five prisoners. Marionette then approaches her husband and says that he missed him so much.
Marionette tells Mime to check out the new Rorschach. She tells new Rorschach to take off his glove. Marionette says that he wants them for a job. New Rorschach says they need to leave right now.
The Mime then begins to pat his body like he is missing something. Marionette says that the Mime is missing his weapons. New Rorschach says they don’t have tine for this. Marionette says they are special weapons. That the Mime is not leaving without them. And she is not leaving without the Mime.
We cut to the Mime opening a locker. It is empty. New Rorschach says the weapons must have been stolen. The Mime reaches inside and puts on an imaginary belt and grabs his imaginary guns. New Rorschach says that the Mime has big problems.
Our heroes sneak out of the prison. They walk up to a 1970’s brown sedan. Marionette asks if this is New Rorschach’s. He says it is his. New Rorschach says he does not trust electric. Marionette says her grandpa used to have one of these. (This makes no sense. Its 1992. Electric cars are not a thing. The car can’t be any older than a mid 1970’s car based on the style and color. So its maybe 17 years old. Marionette is probably in her early to mid 30’s. She would have been an older teen-ager or young 20’s when this car was new. Normally, when someone talks about a car their grandpa had that means the car was old when that person was a kid.)
Marionette says the car smells like shit. New Rorschach says that he lives in the car. They then head out.
We cut to New York City. We see the military conducting a mandatory evacuation. We see a married couple packing to leave. We then see New Rorschach’s car with the doors open and parked near an open manhole opening. We see what appears to be the real Rorschach’s journal that has fallen out of New Rorschach’s car and is on the street.
We shift to New Rorschach, Marionette and the Mime in the sewers of New York City. New Rorschach cant remember which direction to take. The Mime points an imaginary gun at New Rorschach. Marionette says that New Rorschach is going to take them to his partner who is giving to tell them where their son is or they are going to pull New Rorschach and his partner’s tongues out.
New Rorschach asks if someone pulled out the Mime’s tongue with pliers. Marionette says that the Mime pulled his own tongue out. Marionette tells New Rorschach not to play anymore games. New Rorschach then remembers which direction to go.
They walk up to large metal bay doors. They open and the three characters enter Nite-Owl’s secret lair. Marionette asks if the rumors of the real Rorschach killing Nite-Owl and Silk Spectre before killing himself are true. New Rorschach says that the rumors are false.
Marionette asks if New Rorschach has partnered up with Nite-Owl. New Rorschach says, “No.” Suddenly, Ozymandias enters the room. Adrian says that Nite-Owl is retired. That New Rorschach works for him. New Rorschach says he works “with” Adrian and not “for” him.
Ozymandias says it is disappointing that they brought the Mine with them but that he expected it. Marionette grabs a screw driver snd says that she doesn’t know what Ozymandias wants with them.
Ozymandias replies that he only wants Marionette. Marionette threatens Ozymandias with the screwdriver and demands to know where her son is located or she and the Mime will kill New Rorschach and Ozymandias. Marionette says there is a huge reward out for Adrian.
Ozymandias says the reward for him is a bit more than $20 million. Ozymandias offers to pay Marionette $200 million and the location of her son in return for her help. Ozymandias adds “But no more threats. They are ill-advised.”
Adrian says that the real Rorschach was a cruel man who held onto his principles. He was predictable snd uncompromising. Adrian points to new Rorschach and says, “But this one…” New Rorschach says, “Stop.” New Rorschach says, “I am Rorschach. Nothing else to tell.”
Ozymandias places his hand on New Rorschach’s arm and says he did not mean to upset New Rorschach. New Rorschach says he is not upset. He looks at Ozymandias’ hand and adds “Not yet.” Ozymandias lets go of New Rorschach’s arm and says, “Let’s start over here.”
Marionette asks “What’s this bullshit about finding “God.” Ozymandias says that is what New Rorschach calls it. Ozymandias says that he assumed that they know what he did. Marionette says that everyone knows.
Ozymandias says that his plan took a lifetime to conceive and orchestrate. For a moment there was hope. But, even the greatest of empires decays. He says, “The very name I took is a testament to that. (Okay. We got it. Talk about lacking subtlety or nuance with a literary theme.)
We cut to a news report that the countdown is now down to two hours and the Russian forces in Poland continue to advance. We see Ozymandias grimace in pain. Ozymandias reveals that he has cancer that is spreading. That it is another reminder of his mistakes and that it is taking what is most precious to him. (Time.)
Ozymandias says his dream has died and that he cannot save the world even though there is one who has the power to do so: Dr. Manhattan. Ozymandias reveals that their mission is to find Dr. Manhattan.
We cut to Metropolis. We go to Lois and Clark’s condo. They are in bed sleeping. We shift to Superman’s dream. We see Ma and Pa Kent driving Clark to the Senior prom. Clark asks why they are making him go despite everyone thinking he is a loser. Clark says that Pete Ross to Lana Lang to prom. Pa Kent replies that he told Clark to ask Lana to go with him. Ma Kent says that she is sure Lana saved a dance for Clark.
Pa Kent says that one day Clark will tell the whole world his secret. Pa Kent says he worries about that day. That it’s not Clark that he worries about. It is how the world will respond. Clark gets out of the car and trudges off to the dance.
Ma Kent says that she worries about Clark. Pa Kent tells her to not worry. That Clark cannot be physically hurt. They drive back towards their home. Ma Kent says that Clark is alone. Pa Kent says that Clark has them. Ma Kent says they won’t be around forever. She says she wishes they could have given Clark a sibling. Pa Kent says, “Me, too, Martha. But, this is God’s plan.
They enter an intersection. A tractor trailer runs the red light and plows into Ma and Pa Kent’s car. Their car then hits a tree and they die.
We shift to Clark waking up. Clark is hovering above the bed. Lois reaches for him and tells him that he was yelling and the room was shaking. Clark says he had a dream of the night his parents died. Lois says that she can’t remember the last time Clark had a nightmare. Clark replies that he does not ever remember having a nightmare. End of story.
We then get a double page splash shot of the front page of the New York Gazette from November 2, 1992 covering the fact that Ozymandias was behind the attack on New York City.
We then get two pages of several other articles from the November 2, 1992 edition of the New York Gazette. One article covers the anti-nuclear mission launched in 1988 after the “alien” attack at the end of the Watchmen. That President Redford’s Nuclear Free proposal was central to his campaign. That Russia also joined the nuclear treaty with all of the other world powers.
That Veidt led the charge and the United Nations embraced Veidt’s Global Data Exchange Program. All nuclear countries agreed to disarm all nuclear weapons over a 20 year period. That Veidt’s tenacity eventually even got Israel to admit that they had nuclear weapons. Veidt got Israel to join the nuclear disarmament plan.
However, with the shocking reveal of Veidt being behind the New York City attack all of it has crumbled. President Redford has terminated his Nuclear Free program snd withdrawn from the disarmament treaty.
See an article on the “Strange Case of Roger Jackson.” It talks about how The New Frontiersman published The journal of Rorschach. Shortly after the publication, the man who first found Rorschach’s journal, Seymour David, an employee at The New Frontiersman, was found beaten to death. This lead to the arrest and conviction of a young thief named Roger Jackson.
The article says that new evidence is pointing to Jackson being innocent. What could point to the real killer is what was missing from David when he was found: Rorschach’s journal. Jackson’s attorneys are filing an appeal and the FBI is not commenting.
We see an obituary for Byron Lewis. Lewis was Mothman and was a member of the Minutemen.
We see an ad for a combination plier. We see an ad for Schrodinger’s clock and watch repair with the slogan “Broken is a state of mind.” Also an ad for Morning Joe’s diner.
The Good: Doomsday Clock #1 was an average read that showed flashes of potential. There is no doubt that there were some tasty little brilliant morsels in this issue. When Good Geoff Johns shows up the issue displays some real quality. Unfortunately, Bad Geoff Johns also comes along for the ride in this issue, too.
Johns certainly delivers some plot concepts that have the potential to blossom into a compelling story as this big event progresses. Good Geoff Johns is evident in the masterful world building that takes place in Doomsday Clock #1. Johns reminds the reader that when it comes to world building Geoff Johns is rivaled only by Jonathon Hickman.
Doomsday Clock #1 begins after a five year gap since the end of Watchmen #12. Johns is able to take the ending of Watchmen #12 and use it as a solid foundation for his story in Doomsday Clock #1. Johns is able to build his story organically and logically off of Alan Moore’s ending to the original Watchmen.
Nothing in Doomsday Clock #1 felt forced or discordant. Johns is able to seamlessly integrate his story with the original Watchmen series. The result is that Doomsday Clock #1 does not read like some awkward story that is tacked onto the end of Watchmen in clumsy fashion. Doomsday Clock #1 reads like a natural extension flowing out of Watchmen #12. It is quite impressive how masterfully Johns is able to construct his story off the bones of the original Watchmen story.
Johns continues to show off his world building chops by perfectly replicated the proper mood and setting for the Watchmen universe. Doomsday Clock #1 delivers the same framework that existed in the original Watchmen series. The tone and mood that Moore constructed for the original Watchmen series is continued flawlessly into the pages of Doomsday Clock #1.
It is obvious that this was a conscious decision by Johns. And it was a decision done to honor the world that Moore created rather than to simply ape what Moore had done. This is Johns showing his respect and love for Moore’s original story and wanting to honor that proper mood, tone, and setting of the Watchmen universe in the pages of Doomsday Clock.
I appreciate that Johns took great pains to construct Doomsday Clock #1 in the same structure and format of Moore’s Watchmen series. It helps to integrate the two stories in an organic and pleasing fashion. It also helps to make Doomsday Clock a story that adds and augments the original Watchmen series rather than detract and tarnish the original story.
The highest praise that I can give Johns with his world building in Doomsday Clock #1 is that reading this issue felt like slipping on a comfortable pair of shoes. This story just felt right. I had re-read Watchmen before reading Doomsday Clock #1. And one page into Doomsday Clock #1 I felt like I was right back into Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s dark world of the mid 1980’s.
Johns also whips up some excellent character work and some strong dialogue. Again, these are two more trademark traits of Good Geoff Johns. The dialogue had a nice flow. The various characters had unique external voices that were nicely fleshed out. The character work was well done. All of the characters were fully developed with their own interesting and distinctive character traits.
The result of well written characters and quality dialogue all combine to create some strong chemistry between all of the various characters. Whether it was the awkwardness between Rorschach and Marionette, the subdued anger between Rorschach and Ozymandias, or the unconditional love between Marionette and Mime the chemistry between all of the characters was strong. All of this combined to help pull the reader even further into the story and to become connected to the various characters.
I adored Johns’ new Watchmen characters. What an impressive way to actually add something of substance to Moore’s original cast of characters. What was so impressive about Marionette and Mime only served to highlight what was so unimpressive about Johns’ New Rorschach. But, more on that problem later. For now, let’s focus on Johns’ two new characters in Marionette and Mime.
As most readers already know, Alan Moore chose old Charlton Comics characters as the basis for all of his Watchmen characters. Nite-Owl was based on the Ted Kord version Blue Beetle. Dr. Manhattan was based on Captain Atom. The Comedian was based on the Peacemaker. Ozymandias was based on Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt. Silk Spectre was based on Nightshade. Rorschach was based on The Question.
Johns wisely employs the exact same tactic that Moore employed when Johns created his two new Watchmen characters. This was a brilliant move as it helped give Marionette and Mime that trademark Watchmen feel to their characters. It also helped Mime and Marionette to fit perfectly within the Watchmen universe and with the other already established Watchmen characters.
Mime and Marionette are based on the old Charlton Comics characters Punch and Jewlee who were two super-villains created by Steve Ditko. They first appeared in Captain Atom #85 in 1967. I love that Johns continued this tradition of the Watchmen characters being based on Charlton Comics characters. This also helps to give Mime and Marionette that blend Silver Age gimmicks with a twisted modern sensibility.
At this point, the Mime is a more compelling character than Marionette. I am fascinated by the Mime’s view of a fight as a performance. I loved the touch that the Mime demand silence during his “performance.” I also loved the Mime’s imaginary weapons. It was brilliant of Johns to have Marionette sell to the reader that the Mime’s imaginary weapons are irreplaceable and special. It is little details like this that Johns delivers with his characters that make them so multifaceted and captivating.
Of course, I like Marionette, too. She is also a great character with plenty of potential. What I found so fascinating about her character was how Johns was able to juxtapose her as a violent psychopath with her as a loving mother who cares passionately for her son. This helps keep Marionette from coming across as just a parody or a caricature that the reader does not take seriously. Instead, Johns gives her some depth and nuance that makes her a far more intriguing character.
Of course, Mime and Marionette are characters that, while they are great on their own, they are even better together. Johns manages to whip up some palpable chemistry between the two characters in no time flat. And that is even with one of the characters not even having any dialogue. It is quite impressive. I appreciate that Johns shows how much Marionette and Mime passionately love each other. Again, this helps both characters from being nothing more than violent caricatures that the reader does not take too seriously. Their love for each other gives them both some depth and provides a nice contrast to their violent tendencies.
Johns also does an excellent job with Ozymandias’ character. Johns has a good feel for Veidt’s personality is gives us an Ozymandias that is highly consistent with what Moore created. Johns nails Ozymandias’ ego and his attitude that he knows what is the best for the world.
Johns does a wonderful job chronicling Veidt’s fall from grace in the time between Watchmen #12 and Doomsday Clock #1. Veidt was so proud of himself. His ego inflated by his lifelong plans paying of perfectly. All up until Rorschach’s journal exposed Veidt for the fraud that he is. This was well done by Johns. What made this particularly enjoyable was that it was Rorschach from beyond the grave that brought down Veidt. It showed that the power of Rorschach’s unrelenting and uncompromising beliefs simply could not be denied.
Johns does a nice job further evolving Veidt’s character. John’s gives us an Ozymandias who has clearly been humbled. The events preceding Doomsday Clock #1 delivered the kind of fall from grace that the “world’s most intelligent man” had never experienced before. John’s Ozymandias certainly brings more fragility and regret than Moore’s Ozymandias who exuded supreme confidence and an air of superiority over all other people.
I also like the touch of Ozymandias having cancer and being robbed of his most precious asset: Time. This is a wonderful wrinkle to Ozymandias’ character. It also plays into the clock theme of the original Watchmen series and the Doomsday Clock title. Veidt was already a tragic character. This new addition by Johns just makes him seem even more desperate.
I found the Superman scene to be both intriguing at odd. I am having a hard time placing it within DC continuity. Superman in 1992 was operating under John Byrne’s Superman: The Man of Steel continuity. In this version of Superman, Ma and Pa Kent were both alive while Superman was active as a super hero in Metropolis.
This was quite different from Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earth Superman continuity which had Ma and Pa Kent dead before Clark became Superman. They died right after Clark graduated high school. But, in the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earth continuity they died from a disease picked up from buried treasure in Superman #161.
The Superman: The Man of Steel continuity was officially retconned away after Infinite Crisis and Superman: Secret Origin in 2009 which had Ma Kent still alive with Pa Kent dying.
In Doomsday Clock #1, Johns delivers a Superman with a Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity with both of his parents dead right around his graduation from high school. However, Johns has Ma and Pa Kent die under a completely different set of facts than the Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity had established. But, what makes it stranger is that Doomsday Clock #1 takes place in 1992. We would be in the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DCU at this point so both Ma and Pa Kent should be alive and well.
Johns obviously knows Superman continuity backward and forward. So, I am sure that Johns has something up his sleeve and that this will all be explained at some point during Doomsday Clock’s twelve issue story. I am interested to see where Johns goes from here with Superman. I am also fascinated to see how Johns tied the Watchmen universe into Superman’s universe. This is going to be a tricky and daunting task. Hopefully, Johns is up for the challenge.
I will readily admit that my favorite part of Doomsday Clock #1 are the extras that we get at the end of this issue. And it isn’t even close. The four pages of newspaper articles are absolutely fascinating. I poured over them intently re-reading them several times. These four pages is where Johns’ world building skill truly shined.
What is also enjoyable about the articles is that it is another way that Johns keeps the structure for Doomsday Clock #1 the same as the original Watchman series. Alan Moore would end the issues of the Watchmen with various newspaper articles that helped fill in the backstories of the various characters. Johns employs the same tactic here.
Each article fits perfectly with the original Watchmen series and flowed organically from the original story. These articles and ads supported and added to the original series in a pleasant fashion rather than detracting from the original story. These news articles pulled me even deeper into the story than the main story itself did. This was an excellent way to fill the reader in on what happened in between the end of Watchmen #12 and Doomsday Clock #1.
The article detailing the political and global events dealing with the nuclear disarmament plan and the eventual crumbling of Veidt’s plan was well done. This was an interesting and effective way to fill the reader in on all of the political and global developments that occurred between the end of Watchmen #12 and Doomsday Clock #1. This enabled Johns to not waste so much panel time in the actual story giving the reader backstory.
The article concerning Roger Jackson was engaging. I like the mystery surrounding Rorschach’s journal. This article shed more light onto this plot. Seymour David that is mentioned in the article is the fat redheaded guy in the end of the Watchmen #12. We see Seymour being instructed to pick something to run in the New Frontiersman in place of the article that they had to pull about Russia since Russia became America’s ally at the end of the story. At the end of Watchmen #12 we see Rorschach’s journal among a pile of papers in front of Seymour that he is supposed to go through to find a suitable replacement story to print.
This article is an excellent example of how Johns effortlessly built off Moore’s story in a logical and organic fashion. The article certainly does seem to indicate that New Rorschach very well may be the person who killed Seymour. After all, it appears that New Rorschach is in possession of Rorschach’s journal based on the file that falls out of his car when they are in New York City.
Byron Lewis’ obituary was a nice nod to the Minutemen. Lewis is Mothman and was a member of the Minutemen. Lewis came from a rich family. Mothman eventually left the Minutemen due to increasing mental instability. Lewis also developed a drug addiction. Lewis eventually ended up being committed to a mental institute. This is how we last say Lewis in Watchmen #9. Johns builds off of this logically by having Lewis use his personal wealth to help the people impacted by the attack in New York and to be an advocate for mental health. This was a fitting end to Lewis’ character.
The ad for the combination plier was great. This was a playful nod to the Mime and the fact that he used pliers to remove his own tongue. We also got an ad for Schrodinger’s clock and watch repair with the slogan “Broken is a state of mind.” This was a nice continuation of the theme of time and clocks that permeates the Watchmen universe.
While Johns delivered some good writing what really amazed me was Gary Frank’s artwork. The true strength of Doomsday Clock #1 falls squarely on the shoulders of Frank. There is no doubt that Frank is the spiritual successor to Dave Gibbons. Doomsday Clock #1 absolutely looks like the Watchmen. Frank employs mostly 8 and 9 panel page layouts that is similar to the original Watchmen series.
Frank obviously studied how Gibbons constructed the original Watchmen series and then dutifully employed the same construction with Doomsday Clock #1. The result is that this issue looks like the Watchmen. This helps make Doomsday Clock #1 look like a natural extension of the original Watchmen title. Frank brings the Watchmen Universe to life with the proper authentic feel and look to it.
Frank’s artwork adds so much depth and texture to Johns’ story. It is Frank’s art that truly pulls the reader deeply into the story. Frank is able to infuse Johns’ story with plenty of emotion. There are moments where Frank’s artwork alone carries the scene. One obvious example of this is the scene with the Mime in the prison when he takes out the prisoners. The look on the Mime’s face says more than any words that Johns could have put to paper.
There are numerous other scenes where Frank’s art adds so much to Johns’ script and adds another deeper layer to the story. One example that jumps to mind is how Frank draws the scene between Ozymandias and New Rorschach in Nite-Owl’s secret lair. Frank is able to convey the tension between the two characters.
As always, Frank is able to pack so much detail even in small panels. Few artists are able to pull that off. Frank also draws excellent facial expressions for the various characters. This helps to augment Johns’ strong character work.
I do not usually talk about colors. However, I have to mention Brad Anderson’s job with the colors in Doomsday Clock #1. Anderson does an excellent job using the same color palette from the original Watchmen series. This is all part of the concerted effort to make sure that Doomsday Clock #1 is constructed consistently, in terms of the look and feel, with the original Watchmen series.
Lastly, I thought it was a nice touch to dedicate Doomsday Clock #1 to Len Wein. Wein was a talented man who was the editor for the original Watchmen title.
The Bad: Unfortunately, even though we got plenty of Good Geoff Johns in this issue, Bad Geoff Johns also made an appearance. Despite all the nice aspects of this issue, Doomsday Clock #1 is a painfully slow and plodding issue. Large stretches of this issue veer into being quite dull and boring. Clearly written for trade format.
Bad Geoff Johns suffers from terrible decompression when it comes to plotting. Bad Geoff Johns often forgets that his story is bring published in monthly floppy issues format first and foremost. Bad Geoff Johns writes his stories for trade format only.
The pacing and plotting in Doomsday Clock #1 are poor. The story trudges along with no sense of urgency or purpose in mind. There are moments in this issue where the story meanders about and becomes listless. There is little plot development in the main story itself. IN fact, Johns delivers more plot development in the four pages of newspaper articles than he does in the main story.
Johns opens Doomsday Clock #1 with a four page scene that tells the reader that Veidt is in hiding and the world is falling apart. This opening scene sets the slow and meandering tone for the rest of the issue. Given the excellent information that Johns delivers in the four pages of the newspaper articles, this opening scene could have been done in a much more concise and purposeful manner in just two pages.
Johns then delivers a thirteen page scene of Rorschach breaking into the prison and then freeing Marionette and the Mime. This is where the story really begins to get bogged down. This scene is way too long. This scene is incredibly repetitious. Johns takes what was enough material for a six page scene and stretched it out to thirteen pages by repeating the same material over and over.
We then get four pages with New Rorschach, Marionette and the Mime in the sewers of New York City. This is the height of decompression. There was absolutely no purpose for this at all. This four page scene is completely useless and incredibly repetitious. Johns simply recycles the same content that he just gave us in the previous scene.
Johns gives us more of Marionette threatening New Rorschach, of Marionette wanting to see her son and the Mime being weird. It is exactly what we already got in the prior thirteen page scene. This four page scene deserved to be nothing more than a one page scene transitioning these characters to Nite-Owl’s hideout.
Johns then delivers a five page scene in Nite-Owls lair with Ozymandias talking to New Rorschach, Marionette and Mime. This scene was rather anti-climactic. This scene was boring and, once again, repetitious. Johns continues to give the reader nothing new. Instead, Johns just repeats the tension between Veidt and New Rorschach. Johns has Marionette act threateningly once more. Johns has Marionette talking about her desire to see her son. Again.
The only new information was Veidt unveiling the mission that he has for Marionette: To find Dr. Manhattan. And that was nothing surprising. It was pretty obvious to the reader that the mission was going to be trying to find Dr. Manhattan.
Johns ends Doomsday Clock #1 with a four page final scene with Superman. This is typical Geoff Johns construction of a single issue. Deliver an issue that has an intricately detailed setting but largely advance zero plot lines up until the final scene. Then end the issue with a final scene that offers solid plot progression and new details in order to end the issue with a bang and make the reader forget that largely nothing happened during the entire issue.
My other problem with the final scene with Superman is simply a personal issue that I am just going to have to accept and get over. I know it is inevitable seeing Johns merge the Watchmen Universe with the mainstream DCU. And I understand that this is something I am simply going to have to accept. But, it is discordant to see the mainstream DCU intermingled with the Watchmen universe. These are two completely separate worlds with radically different tones and moods. They simply do not mix. Somethings go together pleasantly like peanut butter and chocolate. The Watchmen Universe and the DCU? That is like mixing Peanut butter with Mayonnaise. No bueno.
Now, perhaps Johns will be able to successfully pull off merging these two disparate universe together in a delightfully pleasing manner. I am skeptical of this being possible. However, I remain hopeful that Johns will be able to prove me wrong.
The poor plotting and pacing reveal that nothing much really happens in Doomsday Clock #1 until the end. Most of the story is a bit dull and predictable. All Johns gives us is a new version of Rorschach that is nothing exciting. We get two new characters in Marionette and Mime. And we have Veidt unveil that they need to find Dr. Manhattan in order to fix everything. This was also rather predictable. There just is not much that new or interesting that really grabs the reader and gets them excited for the upcoming issues.
I also found Johns’ use of modern politics with a President golfing and acting seemingly oblivious to things around him, the threat of North Korea, the wall between Mexico and the United States, and the rise of electric cars to be an extremely odd mix with the Cold War politics of the Watchmen and the looming threat of Russia.
The use of modern politics was even further discordant with the story given the fact that Doomsday Clock #1 is set in 1992. None of the current political themes like the wall between Mexico and the United States, a nuclear North Korea and the rise of electric cars were even an issue back in 1992. The rise of modern politics makes little sense and does not fit at all with the time and setting of Doomsday Clock #1. I know writers just love to be “topical” with their stories. But, sometimes writers can get too cute and it ends up hurting their story.
While Johns’ character was impressive in this issue. And Johns’ two new characters in Marionette and Mime were fantastic. There was one glaring weak spot to Johns’ character work. That would be New Rorschach. Doomsday Clock #1 is an excellent example of both excellent new characters creation and lazy and cheap new character creation.
Marionette and Mime are excellent examples of how a writer can create a new character that is not only unique and compelling but also fits nicely with the story’s setting. New Rorschach is an example of how a writer can create a new character in a lazy and uncreative fashion. There is nothing unique about New Rorschach other than his race. New Rorschach has the same look, the same voice, and the same personality. All that New Rorschach brings to the table is that he is a different race. This type of new character is so lazy that the readers view this character as a cheap imitation to the original rather than a new unique character with their own interesting personality.
There was absolutely no need for New Rorschach. I would rather Johns create more diversity by creating a new character like he did with Marionette and Mime. Rorschach is an excellent character who was easily my favorite aspect of the original Watchmen title. However, I did not need an imitation of my favorite Watchmen character in order to enjoy Doomsday Clock #1. I loved Rorschach’s character and I was content with his run in Watchmen and do not need to see the character revived in any shape or form.
If Johns was adamant that Doomsday Clock just had to have a Rorschach style character then it would have made more sense to just use The Question. The Question serves the same role considering he was the foundation for Rorschach’s character. Plus, using the Question would have furthered Johns’ ultimate goal of blending together the Watchmen Universe and the DCU.
My only other quibble with Doomsday Clock #1 would be that this issue is not all-ages friendly. Now I completely understand that not all titles need to be all-ages friendly. The original Watchman title was definitely not all-ages friendly. However, the original Watchmen title did not target kids. Watchmen did not star characters from the mainstream DCU like Superman that clearly target kids.
Doomsday Clock is totally different from Watchmen. Doomsday Clock does star mainstream DCU characters like Superman. And characters like Superman are squarely targets to an all-ages audience. I know I am pretty much the lone voice with this belief but if a DC comic has Superman in it then DC should assume that kids are going to want to read it. Any title that stars Superman should try and be as all-ages as possible. Or, at the very least, the tile should not go clearly out of its way to be adult in content. And that is what Johns did with Doomsday Clock #1.
Johns uses words like “shit” and “bullshit” that really were not necessary and did not add anything of substance or purpose to the story. If those words were not used the story and its mood, tone, and message would have stayed exactly the same. Johns also went out of his way to be adult in content when he had a prisoner ass rape a prison guard. Again, not having this scene would not have changed the mood, tone, and message of the story. A prisoner simply threatening physical violence would have gotten the message across that Johns was trying to convey and still made the issue as all-ages as possible.
Doomsday Clock is being billed as a massive DCU big event that will impact all corners of the DCU and all of its monthly titles. Therefore, this is a mainstream big event that DC should want as large an audience to read as possible. And the lifeblood of the mainstream super hero comic book industry is making sure that young readers get into their titles so that there is a large and avid audience for decades to come. Again, I know that nobody really cares about this issue anymore. So, I chalk this criticism up as a “me problem.”
Overall: Doomsday Clock #1 was a solid read that offers tons of potential for this big event. If Johns can fix his pacing and plotting issues then this big event has the potential to be absolutely brilliant. There is no doubt that Frank is bringing his A-game and is going to make Doomsday Clock an amazing looking big event.
I would certainly recommend purchasing Doomsday Clock #1. Despite its weaknesses, this is still an enjoyable issue. Doomsday Clock #1 is an issue that warrants several reads in order to soak up all the details.
I have high hopes for this big event. I think that DC may have a massive hit on their hands with Doomsday Clock. I will say that after just one issue, Doomsday Clock already blows away Marvel’s last two big event in Civil War II and Secret Empire.