Comic Book Review: Doomsday Clock #2

Doomsday Clock #2

I trekked out in the snow to the comic shop again this week to pick up a copy of Doomsday Clock #2, the second chapter in DC’s 12-issue mini-series that promises to bring the Watchmen and DC Comics universes together. Does it successfully follow up on the strong start of issue #1?

Some spoilers to follow.

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Five things that are worth your time: December 20

Five things that are worth your time December 20

Here’s some reading material for the holiday weekend! A couple of pieces here are a bit somber, but, important reads nonetheless. The others are more fun and lighthearted, including some cool comic book ads and a look back at the mess that was Game of Thrones Season 7.

Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too

Salma Hayek, The New York Times

Actress and producer Salma Hayek details her experiences working with Harvey Weinstein to bring her passion project, Frida, to life. Beyond the disgusting sexual advances, which Hayek was able to rebuff, she explains how Weinstein used his position and authority to devalue her as an artist and as a human being.

A quote: “Halfway through shooting, Harvey turned up on set and complained about Frida’s ‘unibrow.’ He insisted that I eliminate the limp and berated my performance. Then he asked everyone in the room to step out except for me. He told me that the only thing I had going for me was my sex appeal and that there was none of that in this movie. So he told me he was going to shut down the film because no one would want to see me in that role.”

What Happened to Game of Thrones in 2017?

Jason Concepcion, The Ringer

You might remember Jason Concepcion as one-half of the successful Binge Mode podcast, that—incredibly—reviewed and analyzed every episode of Game of Thrones to date. Jason looks back at Season 7 here, which, I can say with a little bit of time having passed, was incredibly disappointing. It had way more lows than highs, and far too many “dumb” moments where characters acted foolishly just to move the plot along. Jason outlines it much better than I can! (Binge Mode is back, by the way, with regular, non-Game of Thrones instalments! Check it out).

A quote: “One of George R.R. Martin’s underrated talents is his ability as a namer of things. Here are some of his battle names: “The Field of Fire,” “The Battle of the Redgrass Field,” “The Taking of Griffin’s Roost,” “The Battle of the Blackwater.” Contrast that with “Loot Train Attack,” the name of the engagement from Episode 4, “The Spoils of War,” which seems like a production title that stuck.”

The Greatest DC and Marvel Comic Book House Ads

Brian Cronin, Comic Book Resources

I grew up in the golden age of comic book house ads; back in the 80s, Marvel and DC would actually commission their artists to create new art solely for use in ads, a practice that’s long since been abandoned. As expected, when you have the likes of Alan Davis, Bill Sienkiewicz, Frank Miller and more creating new art, they produced some incredibly memorable ads. Davis’ Fall of the Mutants ad remains a high point.

A quote: “One of the very best house ads was a pair of ads by the legendary Bill Sienkiewicz that helped promote Power Man and Iron Fist. They were rare examples of house ads where one ad would help set up the other ad…”

Arthur C Clarke at 100: still the king of science fiction

Adam Roberts, The Guardian

This is a too-brief recollection of the life and works of Arthur C. Clarke, who would have turned 100 last week (he died in 2008). I share it only as a reminder to sci-fi fans, that his early work is an absolute must-read. His penchant for producing less-than stellar sequels in the last 25 years of his life should not at all take away from the brilliance of Childhood’s End, or Rendezvous with Rama. And of course, with 2001: A Space Odyssey he teamed up with Stanley Kubrick to produce one of the great works of science fiction film as well. (And, you can see 2001 in 70mm next week at the TIFF Bell Lightbox! I saw it there a couple years ago and it’s the absolute best way to see the film.)

A quote: “What all three works share is the ability to construe moments of astonishing transcendence out of the careful delineation of scientific or technological plausibility. The amazing final line of ‘Nine Billion Names’ (I won’t spoil it, if you don’t know it), the expertly paced uncovering of the mystery of the alien ‘overlords’ who place Earth under benign dictatorship in Childhood’s End and the wondrous uplift of 2001 – this is the genuine strong black coffee of science fiction.”

We spent months bracing and preparing for the death of our daughter. But guess what? We weren’t ready.

Royce Young, Medium

This article is from April, and I shared it on Facebook at the time, but it recently resurfaced in my Twitter feed (h/t to Bruce Arthur) and it’s so good I’m sharing it again. “Good,” actually, isn’t the right word; it’s devastating. Royce Young and his wife found out halfway through her pregnancy that their child wasn’t going to live; here, Royce takes you through the emotional journey and the choice they made to carry their daughter to term and donate her organs. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful and thoughtful.

A quote: “On Sunday, April 16, the day Keri officially hit full-term at 37 weeks, suddenly, we were in the two-week window. In two weeks, we’d be prepping to welcome our baby girl into the world, and preparing to say goodbye to her. I planned on sitting down that day to write Eva a letter, like I did before Harrison was born, to give him on his 18th birthday. She’d never read it, but I was going to read it to her.”
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That’s all for this week! Come back next Wednesday for another five things.

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…