Doomsday Clock got off to a strong start and has been an excellent read for the first two issues of this twelve issue big event. I have always been of the mind that DC Comics should never have revisited The Watchmen. I was less than thrilled with the Before Watchmen stories. And I was not excited about the idea of Geoff Johns melding the Watchmen universe with the mainstream DCU in Doomsday Clock. Luckily, Johns has done a masterful job with merging these two universes and has won me over.
I have high expectations for Doomsday Clock #3. I fully expect Johns to deliver another compelling read with this issue. Let’s go ahead and do this review.
Words: Geoff Johns
Art: Gary Frank
Colors: Brad Anderson
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with a flashback scene of Ozymandias beating up the Comedian and throwing him out of his apartment’s window and to his death. Everything goes black and all we see is the Comedian’s smiley face button with blood on it. We then shift to the Comedian falling into an ocean. The Comedian wakes up and swims up to the surface. We see that the Comedian is in Gotham City’s harbor. The Comedian swims to shore. Dr. Manhattan then appears. The Comedian asks what is going on and what is this place.
We then cut to the present. We see the Comedian beating the hell out of Ozymandias. The Comedian laughs and says he wishes he had a camera to record Veidt’s stupid look on his face. The Comedian punches Ozymandias into the glass window of the building. The glass cracks but does not break. The Comedian says that it is a shame the glass is so strong. That it would have been poetic for Veidt to break through it and plummet to the ground.
The two men continue to fight. Veidt says that Dr. Manhattan obviously is behind the Comedian being alive. Veidt asks where is Dr. Manhattan and what is he doing here. The Comedian does not answer. The Comedian says that people think he is sick but that Veidt is even worse. The Comedian says he will get a medal for killing Ozymandias. Veidt responds that the Comedian was never one for medals. The Comedian retorts that death changes a man.
The Comedian pulls out his guns and fires a bunch of shots at Veidt. Ozymandias dodges the bullets but the bullets blast through the glass window behind Ozymandias. The Comedian says that Ozymandias has nowhere to go.
Veidt then jumps through the damaged glass and performs some acrobatic moves to slow down his descent. The Comedian watches from the now broken open window. Veidt ends up landing on a fire escape that then breaks and he plummets to an awning and falls through it and lands on the roof of a car. Ozymandias is knocked out by the impact.
We shift to the Batcave where Batman is confronting New Rorschach. Rorschach 2.0 comments that Batman has an impressive cave. New Rorschach questions Batman’s sanity and that Batman is either a killer or a collector. Rorschach 2.0 hands Batman the original Rorschach’s journal and asks Batman to read it.
We slide over to Mime and Marionette at the Joker’s carnival hideout from the Killing Joke. Marionette wonders where they are. Marionette says that they should have never joined Veidt. Marionette wonders what in the hell they were supposed to do if they find Dr. Manhattan. Ask him to kill them now since she is no longer pregnant? Marionette says that Veidt is hiding something from them. Marionette says, “Like the Joke’s on us…Yeah. It’s not funny.” (Nice little Killing Joke reference for you.)
Marionette looks at the Gotham City skyline and tells Mime that they need to go find a place to get a drink.
We hop back to the Batcave. Batman is reading the original Rorschach’s journal while Rorschach 2.0 watches. Rorschach 2.0 asks Batman what page he is on. Batman replies that he is on page four and that it has been a long day. Batman tells Rorschach 2.0 to go upstairs and shower and get some rest while Batman reads the journal.
We zip over to a retirement home where Johnny Thunder is standing by a window. He says that his granddaughter and her son always come on the first Monday of the month to take him out. We see two of the other residents in the retirement home arguing over what to watch on the TV. An old lady wants to watch the news channel.
The news channel is discussing “The Superman Theory” which attempts to answer the question of why 97% of the world’s metahumans are American. The old lady yells at the TV that American use to have real heroes with real names like Teddy Roosevelt (My favorite President), Joe DiMaggio, and, Frank Rock. (Sergeant Rock of Easy Company!)
The old man wants to watch the old black and white detective movie starring Carver Colman. The news channel says that the Superman Theory is that the rapid rise in American metahumans started after the arrival of Superman. That the American Government is conducting secret experiments. That Metamorpho, Man-Bat and Lady Clayface have all stepped forward to reveal their ties to the Department of Metahuman Affairs.
The old man then switches the TV to the old Carver Colman movie. Colman plays the role of Nathaniel Dusk a private detective.
We shift back to Wayne Manor. Rorschach 2.0 requested the smallest guest room and still finds it way too big and nice. Rorschach 2.0 then asks Alfred for more of his pancakes since they were so good. Rorschach 2.0 then strips down and gets into the shower. Rorschach 2.0 thinks how he feels out-of-place here. That this guest room and bathroom costs more than the entire city block that he grew up on. Rorschach 2.0 begins vigorously shampooing his hair while thinking how he needs to get clean after shaking Veidt’s hand after what he did. That he needs to wash it all off. We see blood dripping down Rorshach 2.0’s face as he shampoos his hair.
We cut back to the retirement home. The old lady changes to TV back to the news channel. We see that riots are taking place around the world. The reporter mentions how Germany has also tried to create their own metahumans.
We then slide back to Mime and Marionette walking into a bar called Jumping Jacks. We see a rough crowd of thugs throwing a bottle of beer at a stand up comic telling bad jokes. Marionette orders two whiskeys.
One of the thugs stands up and says that Mime and Marionette cannot wear makeup in here. That the boss doesn’t like that. Marionette asks “Boss?” The thug shows a Joker tattoo on the back of his hand. The thug says that this bar is the Joker’s turf. Marionette asks “Who’s the Joker?”
The thugs all freak out over Marionette’s question. Marionette says that all she wants is her drink. The thug then grabs Marionette by the neck and holds a knife to her face. The thug says he is going to carve a smile on Marionette’s pretty face.
Mime then points his imaginary gun at the thug. The other thugs start laughing at the Mime. The thug holding Marionette asks if Mime is for real. The thug says he is going to carve a smile somewhere more interfering now. (Wow. This big event really is not kid friendly!)
Suddenly, a flash of light sparks from the barrel of Mime’s imaginary gun and a bullet blasts through the thug’s head and kills him. The other thugs start freaking out. Mime then proceeds to start killing the other thugs with his imaginary gun. Mime then grabs his imaginary knife and throws it at another thug and kills him.
Marionette happily exclaims, “Pulling out the knives Now? Oh, baby…I want to play, too.” Marionette then uses her hands to slice one thug’s skull in half and then slice off the hand of another thug and then gouges out his eyes. (I absolutely love Mime and Marionette. They are the breakout stars of this big event.)
We then see Marionette pouring a whiskey for herself and for Mime. The two enjoy their drinks. The bar is littered full of dead thugs. Marionette says, “What do you say we go find this Joker.”
We hop back to the retirement home. The old woman has the TV back on the news channel. The news states that Lex Luthor is in surgery following an attack on him. That the attacker remains in serious but stable condition at the same hospital. The news says that many believe the attack on Luthor was in response to Luthor’s anti-metahuman position and LexCorp’s recent announcement of metagene detectors. (What? Metagene detectors? This makes no sense. Super powered characters in the DCU are a mix of aliens, normal humans who gain powers through accidents or experiments, and humans who are born with super powers presumably through a metagene. A Metagene would only apply to the last group of those people. And do we really need DC to go through its own “round up the mutants” storyline after Marvel has so thoroughly beaten that to death?)
The metagene detectors are being installed in airports across the world. (Why? This is a seriously forced plot line to allow for some commentary on a post TSA world of travel. What if your metagene allows you to stick to a wall? How is that a threat to air travel?) The news says that Pakistan is already using the metagene detectors on its own people. Similar operations are being performed in Israel, Russia, and Qurac.
The old man then changes the channel back to the Carver Colman movie. We see Johnny Thunder still staring out the window. We see him with a sad look on his face. The Carver Colman movie has the main character, Nathaniel Dusk, talk about how sad and empty everything has been since Joyce died and her grandparents took away the kids. That now there is nothing left but memories.
We hop back in time to Rorschach 2.0 in his car during rush hour traffic. Suddenly, Veidt’s alien appears in front of his car. Rorschach 2.0 then wakes up screaming. We see that we are back in the present time and in Gotham. This was just a bad memory that Rorschach 2.0 was remembering while asleep.
Bruce Wayne is next to Rorschach 2.0’s bed. (Uhhh, okay, creeper.) Bruce says that Rorschach 2.0 slept from almost 24 hours. Bruce says that he read the original Rorschach’s journal. Bruce says that he knows where Dr. Manhattan is.
We cut to Batman and Rorschach 2.0 on the roof of a prison truck heading into Arkham Asylum. The prison truck stops at the guard-house. The driver tells the guard at the guard-house that he has Mad Hatter in the back of the truck. The guard opens the gate for the prison truck. The Batman tells Rorschach 2.0 to stay close and follow his lead.
We see Batman and Rorschach 2.0 walking down a hall in Arkham Asylum. Batman opens the doors to one of the cells and says that Dr. Manhattan is in this cell. Rorschach enters the cell and calls out for Dr. Manhattan. Nobody is in the cell. Rorschach sees an inscription on the wall of the cell that says “We’re all mad here.”
Suddenly, the cell door closes behind Rorschach 2.0. Rorschach 2.0 goes the door and says, “No.” Batman looks into the cell and says, “I’m sorry. But you belong in here.” Rorschach 2.0 starts screaming, “NO!” over and over. Rorschach 2.0 yells that he is going to kill Batman for this. That he is going to cut out Batman’s eyes. Rorschach 2.0 then gathers himself and says, “Wait. Apologize. Open door. Please…let…Let me out.” Rorschach 2.0 then starts screaming “Let me out of here!!” as Batman walks down the hallway. End of story.
We then get four pages from an old newspaper called Screenland Secrets. The articles cover the murder investigation of Carver Colman. The articles talk about how screen writer John law is one of the main suspects as the murderer.
We also see an article about the marriage of Jackie Johnson. We learn about how soldier turned actor Randy Booth made a scene at Johnson’s wedding. Both men were members of Sergeant Rock’s Easy Company during World War II. The article mentions how boxer Ted Grant (Otherwise known as the JSA’s Wildcat) was also at the wedding and had to help restrain Booth. End of issue.
The Good: Doomsday Clock #3 was an excellent read. Geoff Johns has returned from his break from writing comic books well rested and recharged. Johns is on the top of his game and is putting on an absolute clinic on how to write a super hero big event. When it comes to a big event only Jonathan Hickman has shown he can hang with Geoff Johns. And Johns appears determined to show everyone that not even Hickman can top Johns when it comes to the world building and complex storylines that are required to make a proper big event story.
Doomsday Clock #3 is the literary version of a sumptuous gourmet dinner. Johns pours his heart and soul into this lovingly handcrafted story. Johns’ detailed precision and amazing attention to detail is one born out of talent and a true dedication to his craft. A truly talented gourmet chef can take the same simple ingredients available to anyone and still create a dish that is sublime and beyond what most people can craft. Johns is the same way when it comes to big events.
There is no secret as to the proper ingredients of a big event. Everyone knows them. A balance of action and drama. A large roster of characters. Multiple plot lines. A large-scale setting. A crisis event that seems impossible to defeat or solve. None of this is a secret. All writers know what ingredients are necessary in order to craft a proper super hero big event.
However, Johns’ mastery of the big event and his skill and talent allow him to take these well-known ingredients and deliver a big event that is simply on another level when compared to what other writers like Bendis, Fraction, Aaron, and Spencer have delivered for Marvel. The same ingredients in the hands of other writers have produced forgettable big events. In the hands of Johns these same ingredients blossom into a big event that feels lavish and completely immersive.
Doomsday Clock #3 is a well paced and plotted. The pacing is often Johns’ achilles heel. Often Johns will engage in unnecessary decompression and barely move any plot lines forward and then end the issue with a mind-blowing hook ending designed to make the reader forget that nothing really happened in the issue outside of the final scene.
That is certainly not the case with Doomsday #3. Johns moves the story along in a measured but steady pace. The story never gets bogged down or loses focus or direction. The story unfolds in an organic fashion and always retains a purpose. Johns also manages to make the story well-balanced between action heavy scenes and dialogue heavy scenes.
The plotting in Doomsday Clock #3 is simply amazing. Johns weaves an incredibly dense and intricate story with multiple well-developed plot lines. There are numerous layers to Doomsday Clock #3. This is an issue that demands multiple readings. Johns places so much amazing detail into each page of this issue. There is so much substance for the reader to consume that something new is gleaned with each re-reading of Doomsday Clock #3. Johns is able to create a story that is so immersive that the reader is immediately pulled into this issue, gets lost in the story, and does not come up for air until the end.
Johns delivers multiple compelling plot lines in Doomsday Clock #3. There is the Comedian/Ozymandias plot line, the Mime and Marionette plot line, the Johnny Thunder/news report/Culver Colman plot line, and the Batman and Rorschach 2.0 plot line. They are all weaved together seamlessly and in an impressive fashion. Johns masterfully pulls of scene transitions that organically and creative blend these plot lines together in a pleasing fashion.
The Comedian/Ozymandias plot line is fantastic. I love that the Comedian is back. The Comedian was always my favorite character from the original Watchmen story. This plot line provides Doomsday Clock #3 with a good portion of its action.
The fight scene between the Comedian and Ozymandias is well done. This fight scene has excellent psychology. I like that Johns has this fight scene mirror the scene of the Comedian’s death in the original Watchmen by having this fight take place near a massive window. I also liked the twist of Johns having Ozymandias willingly go through the window in a desperate effort to make an escape rather than being thrown through the window.
Johns is able to use the fight scene to tap into the feelings of anger and revenge within the Comedian and contrast that with the feelings of panic and desperation within Ozymandias. However, this plot line is not only about action. Johns also uses this plot line to advance a few mysteries. We still do not know Dr. Manhattan’s location. Nor do we know why Dr. Manhattan chose to bring back the Comedian from the dead rather than choosing another manner in which to deal with Ozymandias. The reader is also unsure why the Comedian would choose to work with Dr. Manhattan beyond just a basic desire for revenge. The Comedian being introduced into the story adds an interesting wrinkle. The Comedian is a wild card and it is hard to predict how he will react to any given situation.
I also liked the cliffhanger ending to this plot line of Ozymandias injured and unconscious on top of a car. This leaves the reader wanting more and excited for the next installment of this plot line.
The Mime and Marionette plot line was absolutely fantastic and probably my favorite plot line of them all. Mime and Marionette are the breakout stars of Doomsday Clock. Johns has hit a home run with these two characters. I completely adore these two characters and Doomsday Clock #3 only serves to make me like Mime and Marionette even more.
I love that Johns took two obscure Charlton Comics characters and fleshed them out and brought new life to them rather than just making alternate earth versions of current DCU characters. I have always been a huge fan of Charlton Comics so it is nice to see these characters getting a new lease on life.
The chemistry between Mime and Marionette is excellent. Johns has a wonderful feel for these two characters and it shows in the strong chemistry between this husband and wife duo. The great chemistry is also what attracts the readers to this duo and what helps make them so compelling.
The Mime/Marionette plot line also offers the rest fo the action for Doomsday Clock #3. And what action we get. Johns cranks out a bloody violent fight scene that employs just as good psychology as the Comedian/Ozymandias fight scene. The psychology in this fight gets Mime and Marionette over as two complete badasses with the readers. Johns is able to convey that these characters are insane but are absolutely no joke.
Pairing Mime and Marionette up with the Joker makes perfect sense. This is a natural collision course. I am definitely looking forward to the eventual meeting between Mime, Marionette and the Joker. Johns has done an excellent job building up the Mime and Marionette into legitimate threats that they should be viewed on a level playing field with the Joker once they cross paths.
What I also likes about the fight scene is how Johns has been slowly doling out the super powers of Mime and Marionette. I much prefer to learn about a character’s powers and abilities through a fight scene rather than being told in a large exposition dump. In this fight scene we get the stunning revelation that Mime’s guns and knives are absolutely real. This was such an awesome moment. We also learn that Marionette’s hands can act like blades and slice clean through bone. With these new revelations Mime and Marionette just keep getting more interesting.
Having said that, Mime and Marionette are so much more than just cool action. Both characters have interesting personalities and are well-developed. Naturally, the reader has a better feel for Marionette’s character since she does all fo the talking for the duo.
However, Johns has made sure that Mime’s silence does not render him one-dimensional. Johns has done an impressive job using action scenes and Mime’s physical reactions to other characters’ dialogue in order to give him a well-defined personality. Johns has successfully given Mime a silent simmering personality. The Mime is bubbling chaos and violence that is kept under wraps by a calm and silent exterior.
Marionette’s personality is more extroverted and she benefits from getting dialogue. So, her personality is larger and more engaging than the Mime’s personality. However, the two together compliment each other perfectly and make for a fascinating couple. These are two characters that I hope get to survive Doomsday Clock. There are simply way too good to be big event cannon fodder.
The Johnny Thunder/news report/Carver Colman plot line is the most artfully written of all the plot lines in Doomsday Clock #3. The moments with Johnny Thunder waiting for his family along with the narration from the Carver Colman movie are beautifully sad. Johns does a nice job using the Colman movie to highlight the themes of loss and abandonment that dominate the Johnny Thunder plot line. Johnny Thunder has been abandoned by his Thunderbolt. Johnny has been abandoned by his old Justice Society teammates. And now we see the last straw as Johnny is now abandoned by his family.
This feeling of loss and isolation also emphasizes how the Justice Society of America has been lost and abandoned in the DCU by the events of the New 52. This should be Johns laying the foundation for the dramatic return of the Justice Society of America. It could be that whoever was behind the creation of the New 52 purposefully removed the JSA from existence because they posed too great of a threat.
Johns also uses the news story about the Superman Project and the use of metahuman scanners to highlight the old plight of the now forgotten Justice Society of America. The 1985 mini-series entitled America vs. the Justice Society dealt with the JSA in the early 1950’s being rounded-up by the U.S. government and being told to unmask. This old story is echoed in the current plot line about the U.S. government scanning for metahumans and the controversy surrounding metahumans wearing masks and being active within America with little to no oversight by any governmental agency or authority.
Overall, the scenes at the retirement home were an excellent way to not just drop hints surrounding Johnny Thunder and the JSA. These scenes also serves as an effective way for Johns to deliver some exposition and back story via the news reports without having to interrupt the flow of the issue. This was a highly effective way to get in a hefty bit of exposition without grinding the story to a halt or boring the reader.
I am a massive fan of the Justice Society of America. I have greatly missed their presence in the DCU ever since the New 52. And, no, that poorly conceived and poorly selling New 52 Earth 2 title most definitely does not count as the Justice Society of America. With Rebirth junking the New 52 and sweeping the real DCU back into continuity it is more than time for the Justice Society of America to make their grand return to the DCU.
I am excited to see where Johns goes with this plot line. There is no doubt that there is no other author currently at DC who loves and understands the JSA more than Geoff Johns. Therefore, I have high hopes for this plot line.
The final plot line in Doomsday Clock #3 is the Batman and Rorschach 2.0 plot line. Johns does a nice job with these two characters and is actually able to generate some solid chemistry between Batman and Rorschach 2.0. I like that even a character as mentally unbalanced as Rorschach 2.0 is able to see that Batman himself is emotionally unbalanced and not completely mentally healthy. Rorschach 2.0 noticing that the Batcave is the kind of place that either a collector or a killer would create and that, either way, Batman needs help. I always appreciate it when authors take the time to underline that there really is nothing healthy or stable about Bruce Wayne’s psyche.
Now, it is a bit surprising that Batman, a man who is paranoid and also the world’s greatest detective, would so readily dismiss Rorschach 2.0’s story or the original Rorschach’s journal. Especially, given that Batman has dealt with so many otherworldly things ranging from magical beings, alien gods, and heroes and villains from alternate Earths.
I think this is a bit of misdirection from Johns. I think that Batman naturally works alone and naturally does not trust anyone. Therefore, getting Rorschach 2.0 locked up in Arkham achieves two goals. One, it allows Batman to work by himself. Two, it takes a person that Batman does not trust and places him where he can do no harm. I would now suspect Batman to begin investigating Rorschach 2.0’s story to see if it is true or not.
The Batman/Rorschach 2.0 plot line does provide for an excellent hook ending. What made this hook ending even better is the masterful way that Johns unfolded the ending. I loved the use of the Mad Hatter’s escape to set the stage for the trap. The reader has no idea at all that Batman is intending to trap Rorschach 2.0 inside of Arkham. Up until the moment that Rorschach 2.0 sees the inscription from the Mad Hatter on the side of the empty cell. At this point, the reader immediately knows what is about to happen and then Johns drops the hammer with Batman closing the cell door on Rorschach 2.0. That was a brilliant way of walking to reader right into the hook ending.
I am curious to see where Johns goes from here. This is definitely an ending that gets the reader at the edge of their seat and excited for the next issue.
The Screenland Secrets extra pages are fantastic. I love that Johns is adding extras like this at the end of every issue. These extras are the perfect vehicle for Johns to add even more texture and small fine details to the storyline without gumming up the main story. These extras help to flesh out the world for this big event and make it seem more fully developed. These extras simply help to make this big event even more immersive for the reader.
Gary Frank and Brad Anderson combine to deliver a gorgeous looking issue. What else can I say about Frank’s art other than he is simply killing it in Doomsday Clock. Frank is channeling his inner Dave Gibbons and is delivering artwork that is perfect for a Watchmen story. Frank captures the proper mood and tone for this story like no other artist could pull off. I honestly could not imagine anyone else drawing Johns’ story.
Frank also deserves much of the credit for the emotion that courses through this story. Frank is able to help bring Johns’ characters to life with his strong artwork. Much of why Mime is such a compelling character despite having zero dialogue is because of Frank’s powerful artwork. Frank shows how a talented artist can help the writer deliver strong character work and a fully fleshed out world and setting for the story.
I also appreciate that Anderson took the time to make the colors in Doomsday Clock match the same color palette as the original Watchmen comic. This helps to create continuity and connectivity between the original Watchmen and Doomsday Clock.
The Bad: I only have a few very small quibbles with Doomsday Clock #3. Rorschach 2.0 still is a miss with me. This character has brought very little to the table up to this point. Rorschach 2.0 is the most generic of all of the characters. Johns has done little more than present Rorschach 2.0 as nothing more than a bland copy of the original Rorschach with none of the appeal of the original Rorschach. I am still not sure why Johns bothered with Rorschach 2.0 rather than just creating a new character to fill this role.
Rorschach was a truly brilliant character. Johns should have just respected the character and let him stay dead and let his gimmick stay dead with him. Mime and Marionette are shining examples of how taking old obscure characters and creating new ones from them is a far superior idea than just creating an unoriginal copycat character using another character’s trademark gimmick.
I also have zero interest in the metahuman plot line. There is nothing more uninteresting than an uncreative take on Marvel’s long running mutant plot line. I do not need to see a human/metahuman story line in the DCU like we see in Marvel with the human/mutant story line. This metahuman plot line seems incredibly forced and contrived. And, no, I was not dying for DC to finally come out with a plot line that focused on commentary over TSA and air travel in America.
The fear of metahumans does not make much sense in the DCU. Marvel has always had a strong mutant presence in their universe going all the way back to the 1960’s. And the human/mutant struggle has been going strong since the 1960’s. But, the DCU is set up completely different. The overwhelming majority of all characters in the DCU have their powers due to anything other than a metagene. You have characters that have their powers because they are aliens. You have characters with magic based powers. Characters with tech based powers. Characters with powers sue to an accident or an experiment. It is rare that DC has a character that has their powers because they are a mutant, I mean, a metahuman with a metagene.
My last tiny complaint is that Doomsday Clock #3 is not kid friendly at all. And, I get that this story is mature because it is following up on the Watchmen which was a mature story. But, this is a mainstream super hero big event. Mainstream super hero big events should always try to be as kid friendly as possible in order to try to pull in younger readers. I remember how Crisis on Infinite Earths pulled me in when I was a kid. Wolfman certainly did not deliver a “kiddie” story. But, he did not go all “adult” with the story, either. DC really needs to be concerned with trying to build a new generation of readers rather than simply relying on their rapidly aging readership.
Overall: Doomsday Clock #3 was another excellent read. Johns and Frank are operating like a finely tuned machine with each of them complimenting each other perfectly. Doomsday Clock #3 offers a story that has the depth and texture that practically no other title from Marvel or DC can offer. If you enjoy stories that are dense reads that require multiple readings and are chock full of fine details then you absolutely need to pick up a copy of Doomsday #3. The re-readability and the amount of content in this issue makes Doomsday Clock #3 well worth your hard earned money.