The plot progresses exponentially and the character work is delicious.
Doomsday Clock may be one of the most polarizing comics on shelves today. Not only does it bring back the beloved characters from Watchmen, but it links those characters to the DC Universe. Well, presumably, as the first issue suggests there will be a transition. The obtuse nature of their connection was one of my few problems with the first issue; can Geoff Johns and David Frank iron it out this week in issue #2?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
In this second chapter: The Dark Knight discovers another relic from the Watchmen world. Lex Luthor pays a devil’s bargain. And killer clowns trek through Gotham seeking a madman.
Why does this matter?
Aside from joining two huge, disparate worlds (something I don’t think anyone saw coming), it’s being created by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, two of the best creators in the business who also put out Shazam and Batman: Earth One. Along with colorist Brad Anderson, this is a crew that is about as superstar as you can get these days.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The issue also contains some back matter written by Lois Lane. Hmmm.
This issue quells my fear that the series will be a slow boil, because boy does it pick up here. There is a lot of plot progression and by the end of the issue new dynamic relationships are formed and a clearly different story is taking place. The last issue felt like a direct sequel to Watchmen that just so happened to have a blip of Superman. This issue gets characters from point A to point B quickly and then satisfies your expectations before closing out on a surprise twist. It’s an entertaining comic regardless of whether or not you disagree with Watchmen characters somehow interacting with DC characters like Batman or Superman.
The first half of the book focuses on Marionette and Mime breaking into a bank. It’s suggested this bank may have some important clients and we have to figure Ozymandias’ plan requires this bank specifically to get broken into. It’s a nine page sequence with seven of them devoted to Marionette and Mime roughing up the bank teller and guards. This sequence is flat-out masterful in how Frank tells the story visually. Nearly all of it is told via the classic nine panel layout with an occasional bigger panel to draw our eye and make us laugh or gasp. The heightened sense of danger helps keep your interest while Johns tips us off on the whole point of the matter. It took me a second reading to truly appreciate what Johns and Frank are doing here because they tell the story in a way that drops a hint here or there, never making a big deal of it. That makes reading the story almost like a treasure hunt as you attempt to find the details that’ll matter later.
The second half of the book focuses on DC characters like Batman and Lex Luthor. Again, there are little hints about what is going on and also an interesting juxtaposition of what was going on in the Watchmen universe and issues with Russia and other elements in the DC universe right now. It’s worth noting this series is taking place in canon a full year from now so if you want to gather an idea of where Batman will be, read this issue! As you can see below, which was revealed by Johns on Twitter, Rorschach ends up in a familiar cave.
Frank continues to draw an amazing series. The character acting alone is fantastic and the way he’s plotting these panels allows for excellent pacing. Every panel has a purpose and focus. I can’t imagine how much longer it takes to draw a series like this over a conventional superhero book because even the most unimportant looking panel may have huge significance.
Yeah, what a nutter.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I had two qualms with this issue, but I enjoyed it more than the first. My first issue is a brief scene with Marionette. She’s angry, and we are then revealed something about her. Then we cut to a photograph. The way this scene progresses is slightly confusing. Where is the photograph coming from? The significance is the important part which I think is obvious, but it still had me flipping back and forth to understand where it came from.
My second issue is how little focus Johns puts on the technology that sends our Watchmen characters to the DCU. I know Ozymandias is a super genius, but we’re to simply assume he could fashion some kind of inter-dimensional transport because he wills it? It plays on a trope that’s convenient to the plot. A little more focus on this may have been boring, sure, but it would have allowed this huge plot element to have more meaning and gravity.
Is It Good?
This is an excellent book even if you remove your understanding of Watchmen. The visual storytelling across each page is at times riveting with amazing character acting requiring no dialogue at all. It’s the kind of comic you’ll read over and over to understand the layers of meaning and clues. This issue also bridges two worlds, progressing the plot satisfyingly.