I think many of us were wary when Doomsday Clock was first revealed. Combining Watchmen with the DC Universe seems like a high risk, low reward move. Then I read issue #1 of Doomsday Clock and was a bit relieved. It was clear Geoff Johns was doing more of a straight sequel to Watchmen than I ever anticipated. He was also taking his time and backed up by the excellent Gary Frank.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The story takes a turn in the third chapter of this 12-issue series you never thought you’d see, from writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank.
Why does this matter?
If you’re asking this question you probably don’t know how big a deal Watchmen was and I’m not just talking the feature film. The book changed comics in many ways and is some serious business. The fact that some of those characters are back (and a hunt for Dr. Manhattan is on) is a big deal and that’s not even bringing into account Superman and Batman’s part in this story.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This looks familiar.
There is a depth to reading Doomsday Clock you just don’t see in comics on a regular basis. This is the kind of book that is clear and methodical in its storytelling so you’ll feel satisfied by the end, but you’ll have story beats lingering in the back of your mind calling on you to read it again. Under the surface, there’s always more going on. You can see it in Frank’s excellent art, which tends to drop a hint or detail in a background or foreground that you may not have been thinking about. When this is collected I’m sure there will be essays written on what is “really” going on.
This issue juggles a few different characters, from Batman and Rorschach to Ozymandias getting out of a sticky situation, to Marionette and Mime getting into some trouble. There’s also an old black and white movie that cuts in and out of the story that I’m still scratching my head over. It may involve Johnny Thunder, but it’s too early to tell what his involvement in the story will be. The story is economically told with key flashbacks, character reveals, and seeds planted to progress things nicely. All in all, Geoff Johns is writing his pants off with well paced and balanced storytelling. There’s no fat, and when you might think there are erroneous scenes you know in the back of your mind there’s probably more to it than you think.
Frank’s art continues to dazzle. Seriously, the nine panel layout is a tricky business and given his detailed style it’s quite amazing how much he can fit. Take for instance a key flashback for Rorschach as he drives a car. Hanging from the mirror is Ozymandias’ pet tiger slowly twirling. It’s a minor detail and yet it adds a sense of motion and a sense of time to the scene.
A major revelation.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I’m a little surprised we’re three issues into this event and we have yet to see Superman since the brief and slightly perplexing scene in the first issue. Batman gets some key page time, but even his involvement is somewhat removed. No, instead there is much more focus on the Watchmen characters and progressing their plots and backstories ever so slightly. If this issue has any revelations it’s that Marionette and Mime are stealing the damn show with their crazed violence.
Is It Good?
This is about as good as comic storytelling can get. The only caveat is you have to like the Watchmen characters, since the inclusion of DC characters is limited.
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