Doomsday Clock #3
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank
Published by DC Comics
A review by Stacy Dooks
Permit me to depart from our established format here for a moment or two. Let’s get this out of the way from jump:
The Verdict: Buy It! If you’re eager to see just how crazy things can get in the crossover Doomsday Clock #3 ups the ante and then some. Highly Recommended.
Sorry to throw off the rhythm but there are some things we have got to talk about regarding Doomsday Clock #3 and that means getting into SPOILER TERRITORY (in a second). For those of you who haven’t read the issue and want to be surprised, the above should give you all you need to know and you can head to your friendly neighborhood comics shop and pick up the book secure and without having major plot points spoiled and getting a pretty big surprise ruined from the cliffhanger in issue #2. So from this point forward, SPOILERS AHOY. I’ll even give you a little space to back out now.
Still with me?
Okay, here we go. Don’t say I didn’t warn you:
So as previously established in our debut issue Ozymandias and Rorschach II have made an inter-dimensional jump from the world of the Watchmen to the traditional DC Universe, one in which Lex Luthor is campaigning hard against superhumans based on (somewhat circumstantial evidence) pointing to a government conspiracy that is the reason why so many super-beings are born in the United States. Ozymandias goes to speak with Lex Luthor, the situation escalates (largely because Luthor is a jerk) and he attacks Ozymandias. It looks like we’re going to get a hand-to-hand slugfest between the two self-professed smartest men in the room but Ozymandias is intercepted in his attack. . .by Edward Blake, the Comedian.
The Comedian. From Watchmen. The guy who gets thrown out the window at the beginning of the story and whose murder is the through line of the entire series. It turns out he didn’t die, rather Dr. Manhattan snatched him from the moment just before he struck pavement and deposited him in the DC Universe, and he’s ever so slightly miffed about almost being, y’know, brutally murdered.
Add to this a confrontation between Batman and Rorschach II (who gets some much-needed backstory development) and a mild rampage by the Mime and Marionette (who are about to cross paths with a certain Clown Prince of Crime) and you’ve got the makings of a jaw-dropping issue. Say what you will about the motives behind the series or the lack of need for a Watchmen sequel and the upcoming shift to a bimonthly schedule (boo) but if nothing else this story takes a concept which rightly should fall on its face–a sequel/rebuttal to one of the most notorious comics stories of all time–and hits the ground running. It plays around with the Watchmen story structure and visual iconography (the end panel on one page tying in to the first panel on the next, etc.) but it’s not afraid to be it’s own thing and play around with it’s own meta-narrative. Of particular interest to me is how the seeming joke character of the Mime can look completely harmless and ridiculous in the Watchmen universe only to suddenly become completely terrifying in the DC universe proper. The text pieces at the end of the book offer various clues (or red herrings) to the mystery of where Dr. Manhattan might have been and what’s happening in this Watchmen-esque take on the DC Universe. There’s even a Tales of the Black Freighter-style vignette that doesn’t appear to be tied to the greater narrative at first blush but you just know is going to pay off later.
The writing by Johns is deft and assured as always and he’s not afraid to play to certain expectations only to defy them outright. The twist with Rorschach II made me laugh out loud. The art by Gary Frank is great; it’s no mean feat to follow in the footsteps of a master like Dave Gibbons but he succeeds and then some. The Comedian/Ozymandias fight and the bar sequence stand out as the best action pieces in the series to date.
How is it all going to play out? Was this series a wise idea or an awful one? I can’t say, it’s still early days yet. But I will give credit where it’s due: it’s got guts. Recommended.