Doomsday Clock #4
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Publisher: DC Comics
Review by Stacy Dooks
Well now, it’s certainly been a minute since we last sat down and discussed Doomsday Clock, the kind-of/sort-of sequel/response to the critically acclaimed Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. We’ve been waiting over two months since the last issue, so does Doomsday Clock #4 live up to the hype or is it just more filler with no killer?
Picking up where the previous issue left off, Rorschach II had encountered Batman in the batcave and told him the story of his trip across the dimensional barrier from the Watchmen universe to the DC universe proper and their hopes of finding Dr. Manhattan and bringing him back to their world of 1992 in order to avert the outbreak of a nuclear war. Batman reacts to this impassioned plea from a man in dire straits by locking him in a cell in Arkham Asylum. Doomsday Clock #4 delves into the backstory of this new Rorschach, explaining just who he is and how he came to follow in the footsteps of the deeply disturbed Walter Kovacs.
This comic is at once technically perfect and perfectly frustrating. So Geoff Johns is going to look me dead in the eye as the author and say that Batman’s first move with Rorschach is to just throw him in Arkham Asylum without so much as a crime committed (I mean, I guess breaking and entering Wayne manor, wandering the batcave, and eating his pancakes might be a misdemeanor, sure) solely on the premise that his story of other dimensions sounds farfetched? Need I remind the plaintiff and the jury that just down the hall Scott Snyder are doing a separate event that features an entire Dark Multiverse of alternate evil Batmen invading reality but this is the bridge too far? Really?
Now this isn’t to say that the story isn’t written well and that the art isn’t beautiful, but I can’t help but see the deus ex clunking away in the machina: Batman has to hold the idiot ball and send Rorschach II to Arkham so that the story can proceed, rather than having him examined in the Justice League satellite or maybe Dr. Fate’s tower where it could be easily discovered that, yes, this man is from an alternate universe so let’s believe him and cut down on about four extraneous issues worth of storytelling. The DC universe is not the Watchmen universe: they get visits from fifth-dimensional imps and their own alternate-reality counterparts. All. The. Time. But maybe Dr. Manhattan is giving them all collective amnesia. That’d be almighty convenient.
The Verdict: Skip it.
Honestly, between the delays and the plot moving at such a glacial pace, you’d likely be better served waiting for the entirety of Doomsday Clock in trade paperback. It’s technically proficient, but as I’ve stated elsewhere I’m not entirely certain what this is all for.