For a bit more spoilers read our article about the ending.
The finale of Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson’s Doomsday Clock is finally here. It may have taken us two years to get here, but it was a wild ride, to say the least. A lot is counting on this final issue to stick the landing, add context and purpose to the series as a whole, and maybe even answer a few questions. The biggest questions on most minds are how Superman factors into this and whether or not he fights Dr. Manhattan. Both questions are answered here.
This 48-page extra-sized finale is everything you’d want from a Watchmen book, but also nothing like one either. I was left pondering the meaning of the extensive captions and the true characters. There are endings here to reflect on and reveals to hang deeper purpose on. It also seems fitting this sequel series ends just days after HBO’s Watchmen ends as well. Both that and this series are very much inspired sequels, but they are both doing very different things. Geoff Johns effectively ends this series by using Watchmen to inspire the DC universe and their concept of the multiverse. For the most part, I think he has succeeded by making a strong argument that Superman is at the center of this wide-ranging tapestry of universes and the very concept of all these dimensions makes some kind of sense. He’s basically given purpose to the incredibly convoluted nature of the multiverse which is exciting, and as a comic book fan, rewarding.
This issue effectively ties everything up, brings characters together, and looks fabulous doing it. As conclusions go, there isn’t a hanging plot or really anything confusing about how things play out. The use of Black Adam and the super-nation seems a bit stuffed in, but a lot of these plots feel stuffy. Rorschach was rather bruskly added back into the main narrative of the last issue and plays his part in an unnatural sequence of events to get him to the end. Marionette and Mime are also quickly jettisoned into the plot to serve their purpose. It’s not the most natural set of circumstances, but at least we’re given closure and explanation.
I will say if you loved the original Watchmen comic you may dislike where this book takes Dr. Manhattan and his evolution. There is one major theme that Alan Moore ended the series on in particular that evolves and changes gears at the very end of the book. Again, Superman and his value to the universe are utilized to play into conceptions of death, life, and existence. If you’re a Superman fan you’ll likely love the inspiring take. That said, it makes this book feel like a DC event directly affecting the Watchmen characters and not the other way around. Instead of these two properties coexisting, DC has effectively absorbed Watchmen to be used another day. There are clues laid out here that could very well be picked up later on so the story is not ending here by any means. Many will wonder what to make of the cliffhanger, but there’s also a caption talking about the 5G initiative Dan Didio is planning to reboot the line of books. Since this book took so much time to release, I imagine most are going to be cautious with any expectations that new stories sprouting from this will come out any time soon.
The art is fabulous as we’ve come to expect from the team. The 9-panel grid is used here and there, but there are various other layouts to punch up key moments. There are stand-out double-page splashes for villains and heroes that are gorgeous. When talking about the multiverse, Frank and Anderson deliver an incredibly heroic and inspiring panel of the heroes running at us that’ll stick with you. There’s an excellent scene early on with a red-capped white man who attacks Rorschach that feels intensely political but also subdued so as to not be on the nose and obvious. The visuals do well to tell this part of the story subtly well.
Once again, I’d love to know the backstory behind the delays and the development of this story. Characters like Rorschach are used heavily early on, then go away, and then come back again. Batman seemed to be a huge player, but his role was minor in the grand scheme of things. Just see how Comedian is wrapped up here and you can gather it seems like an oversight in how he was used.
Ultimately, I think this series effectively accomplished what Frank and Johns set out to do. They’ve inserted Watchmen into the consciousness of the DC universe and directly into Superman and Batman’s knowledge. The two are no longer disparate, and while it’s unclear if DC will continue the threads offered here, we can at least imagine where it may go from here. That’s an inspiration much like the multiverse, which was honored and held up in an exhilarating way here.
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