Geoff Johns talked only briefly about Doomsday Clock at SDCC, but what he said was exciting stuff. Marionette is getting the focus and what he does in this issue is daring and deeply compelling. In one stroke this issue explores the character’s troubled childhood and pushes the needle forward on the world of DC villains.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The critically acclaimed super star team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank continue this groundbreaking event as the Mime and the Marionette take center stage in DOOMSDAY CLOCK #6.
Why does this matter?
The story continues to delve into a world where the stakes seem higher than ever and the world of supervillains continues to be complex. Johns and Frank are making the DC characters grow up as if they’ve squeezed the Watchmen sensibilities out and let it soak into characters like Joker and Batman. Exciting times to be a DC fan.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue opens with Marionette and Mime being kidnapped by Joker and his henchman. They’ve got Batman tied to a wheelchair and Joker isn’t quite sure what to do with them. They did kill his henchmen, after all. As the story progresses in the present, we peer into Marionette and Mime’s past when they were little kids. These flashbacks intercut with the now very well due to the themes discussed but also Frank mirroring the panels. Marionette and Mime are some of the most homicidal characters I’ve ever read, but they are also deeply human. Johns probes their personalities very well and makes you feel for these horrible monsters. It’s yet another sign that Johns understands good characters and more importantly how to deliver them to readers so that we end up feeling for them even if they’re despicable.
This issue also has a lot of DC villain sightings complete with rousing speeches and posturing. I don’t want to spoil it, but there are some gory moments that make these somewhat ridiculous characters (especially their costumes) come off as more realistic than ever. The Watchmen tone is used heavily in these moments, as if to mature the villains we know and love.
Frank is without question putting out some of his best work ever. The mirroring between flashbacks and the present is excellent and draws you into the character. Witness a little girl’s pain only to cut to a similar shot in the present. You’re zapped right into Marionette’s psychosis in a very real way. The detailed nine-panel layout continues to be marvelous as well. Frank can play around with the tiniest and subtlest emotional beats which draws you in even further. I rather like Joker’s personality in this issue too — he’s a bit silly, but completely off his rocker.
It can’t be perfect can it?
It’s safe to assume this story is in no rush to progress the plot. After this Marionette-focused issue and the Rorschach issue, it’s clearly more of a character study than a densely rich story like the original. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — what we’re reading is quite good, but the way this series is plotting it’s easy to forget the bigger picture. We are six issues into the story and something like three hours have taken place. Also, considering how much Superman was hyped a year ago it’s also shocking how little he’s been in this series. It’s a rich work, but one that is rich in a way that is more singularly focused on specific characters.
Is it good?
This is a strong character study of Marionette and one that is deeply emotional. You will feel for her as the story and art draw you into her incredibly tragic story. This may be a slow boil story, but it’s a deeply meaningful story nonetheless. It’s a richly rewarding psychological character study. If that sounds like it’s up your alley, read it!