Review: Doomsday Clock #1

Doomsday Clock #1

I can’t remember the last time I bought a single, physical issue of a comic book. Age of Ultron, maybe? Regardless, the buzz around Doomsday Clock, DC’s maybe-sequel to Watchmen that maybe integrates the Watchmen universe with the DC Universe, inspired me to visit Silver Snail on New Comic Book Day last week to get a copy of Doomsday Clock #1 for myself.

Here are my thoughts (minor spoilers where noted):

What is it? Doomsday Clock #1
Who did it? Geoff Johns and Gary Frank
When did it come out? November 22, 2017

Doomsday Clock #1 exceeded my expectations

I’ve mostly enjoyed the comics I’ve read by Geoff Johns; some I’ve loved, in fact. And I like Gary Frank. In fact, I am a huge fan of the work those two did together on Superman. That, combined with the positive early buzz, set my expectations for this book pretty high! And it exceeded them thoroughly. It’s gorgeous. It’s written in such a way that is more than homage to Watchmen, and that could have easily derailed it, looking like a copy or a mockery… but it actually works. It put my right back into that universe. And the story drops you in the middle of a crisis (that I won’t spoil) and then tension is ratcheted up, and you really feel it. Furthermore, much like Watchmen #1, enough hints of several mysteries are dropped that you definitely want to read what’s coming next.

I probably shouldn’t love the overt Watchmen homages, but I do

That this is a continuation of Watchmen is right in your face; much like Dr. Manhattan’s giant blue penis in the big-screen adaptation, you can’t miss it. The cover layout is the same. The cover acting as the first panel of the story is there. The nine-panel grid, of course. The lettering and fonts, the colors, the titles, the quote at the end… the end pieces! I mean, this should feel hokey, or cheap, but… it just doesn’t. It works.

Let’s talk about Rorschach

(SPOILERS IN THIS SECTION)

It’s not a spoiler to say that Rorschach appears in this comic, since he’s all over the previews. But (another SPOILER ALERT, in case you ain’t paying attention) this isn’t the same Rorschach that we saw in Watchmen. It would appear that Walter Kovacs was indeed, annihilated in the snow by Dr. Manhattan, and another gentleman—an African-American gentleman—has taken up the role. It’s not clear why, or how he got the mask, but he’s clearly a bit… deranged, like the original. He has peculiar eating habits (likes his syrup, apparently), is oddly forgetful, lives in his car… yeah, he’s got issues. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s someone we know; as far as I can recall, the only black characters in the original Watchmen (Rorschach’s psychiatrist and Bernie the newsstand boy) were killed when the creature materialized in New York. (Although looking at those pages now… it’s possible young Bernie was shielded enough by old Bernie to survive…) (END SPOILERS)

I’m not up on current DC continuity, such as it is…

… so I was surprised to learn that, in the current DCU, Clark Kent’s adoptive parents were killed in a car crash when he was 18. I was even more surprised to learn that I had, in fact, read the stories where that continuity change was introduced: Grant Morrison’s Action Comics run. (That should tell you how much that run stuck with me… man, what a disappointment that was after Morrison’s brilliant All-Star Superman.) Clark’s nightmare about their death clearly means that night ties into this story somehow (assuming of course, Johns and Frank follow the track of the original Watchmen, where every panel and page meant something). Are we meant to think that continuity change happened because Dr. Manhattan manipulated the DCU? Or is it even more sinister than that? Can’t wait to find out!

I don’t want to get my hopes up too far

This issue did remind me of the first issue of Infinite Crisis, another Geoff Johns book that was a sequel to a legendary 1980s comic (Crisis on Infinite Earths). And I loved that first issue as well; I loved the ideas it presented (that the DC heroes had gotten away from what made them special), why it needed to tie into the original Crisis (the purpose of that event was to “clean up” the DC Universe and get their characters back to basics) and the way it brought back the original Earth-2 Superman and Lois and the Earth-Prime Superboy. It all worked! Unfortunately it fell apart by the end of the series. Editorial changes and delays plagued the book and the ending felt hollow. Let’s hope the follow through is better on this one.

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So the question is: Will I end up going to the comic shop next month to get Doomsday Clock #2? Will I settle for a digital copy? Or wait until the inevitable collected edition? Time will tell…

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