Doomsday Clock #1
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: November 22, 2017
This is it, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The moment that everything has been building to since Batman discovered that tiny, yellow, blood-splattered button embedded in the wall of the Batcave. In the search for the source of the button and the strange energy signature that it radiated, the Reverse Flash appears in the Batcave to wreak havoc on Batman and the Flash. Upon taking the button, Eobard is bolted through time and space by some sort of powerful blue energy and mere seconds later he is teleported back. When Eobard returns to the Batcave, the entire half of his body is burned and he is shaken to his very core and is only able to mutter “God….God….I saw….God”. Ever since this moment in Batman #21 The Button Pt. 1, fans have been clamoring for DC’s fateful clash of the DC universe and the Watchmenverse. Its been pretty obvious that Eobard came face to face with none other than the Watchmen’s very own Doctor Manhattan. From the moment I saw Eobard half obliterated and lying dead on the Batcave floor, a quote from Jessie Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor has been stuck in my head “[b]ut a bell cannot be unrung! He’s hungry! He’s found us! And he’s coming!”.
Fans of DC Comics and Watchmen alive have waited for over a year to finally see the fruition of the idea we were presented at the beginning of Rebirth, the idea that everything that happened in the New 52 wasn’t Pandora’s fault, but rather the work of Doctor Manhattan. Now the time has finally come and the doomsday clock is ticking once again, so let’s see if all of the waiting was worth it.
“We Shattered the American Dream This is the American Nightmare”
The book opens in November of 1992 to a familiar diary narration. We see images of irate crowds mobbing buildings in an angry fever. The people in the crowds are brandishing broken glass bottles, “The End is Nigh” signs, and whatever other weapons they can get their hands on. We learn that they are outside of Veidt Enterprises and despite the best efforts of the police, they will not be kept out of the building. Images of what seems like a world on fire play out across the pages as we see the mob finally break through the doors. Presidents shooting Vice Presidents, missiles being fired, and the looming threat of another World War play out as the soundtrack to the end of the world. We then learn exactly why the mob is outside of Veidt Enterprises as we see new reports about a global manhunt for Adrian Veidt, due to his involvement in the events of Watchmen and the murder of millions. We learn that the Daily Gazette has finally published Rorschach’s journal and titled the coverup “The Great Lie”.
The world seems to not only be looking for Adrian, but also his former teammates Silk Spectre, Nite Owl, and Dr. Manhattan who have all seemingly vanished into thin air. The next couple pages are dedicated to a military team infiltrating Veidt’s arctic base in the hopes that they may find the man who tore a hole in the middle of New York City. Of course, they had no luck, but during their siege, the audience does see what appears to be X-rays of a human skull with some sort of mass it, that’ll come into play later.
We then cut to a prison riot which is due to an evacuation of the United States caused by Russia invading Poland and the further looming of a war. It seems like the guards are hellbent on leaving the prisoners as they fight for their own survival, but as can be expected the prisoners were not having it. We see a tussle and all of a sudden a familiar black gloved hand punches out one of the guards and retrieves his keys. We are then treated to the familiar shifting white and black inkblot face of one of Watchmen’s most iconic characters, Rorshach. If you’re familiar with the events of Alan Moore’s original Watchmen graphic novel then you know that Rorschach died at the hands of Doctor Manhattan near the end of the novel due to his unwillingness to let Ozymandias get away with slaughtering millions of New Yorkers. So seeing him was more than a shock, but it presented another mystery, how has Rorshach come back from complete and utter obliteration by a god? We learn that the familiar narration style that we’ve seen over the course of the entire issue belongs to the once thought to be dead Rorshach.
Rorshach is on a mission, he’s searching for someone. The mystery of who is in the cell is built up by the fact that we see two other panels of missile keypads being unlocked at the same time Rorshach unlocks the cell door. The mystery of who the woman in the cell is played up as if its supposed to be a bombshell revelation or at the very least an important piece of information. The cell unlocks and Rorshach swings the door back to reveal a new character by the name of Erika Manson, otherwise known as The Marionette. Rorschach has come to recruit her for some sort of mission and he uses her infant child to coerce her into it. We find out that Marionette and Rorshach have some sort of history with one another.
It is in this moment that the mystery of Rorshach’s return is finally answered, the man under the mask isn’t Walter Kovacs. Even though Erika knows the man under the mask isn’t the real Rorschach, she still goes along with his plan under one condition, he also has to spring her lover, Marcos Maez, otherwise known as The Mime. Marcos introduction might be one of my favorite things about the first issue because when we first meet him we are lead to believe that he is mute and cant defend himself. We quickly learn that this is a falsehood and, that while it’s true that he doesn’t speak, he proves himself as a more-than-capable fighter. In the midst of Marcos getting his ass kicked, Erika prevents Rorshach 2.0 from stepping in because Marcos loves to have his “Performance”, and what a performance it was. Marcos, all of a sudden, staps out of whatever defenseless trance he was pretending to be in and mows down his attackers with a bloody smile on his face. One of the most interesting things about the character is that he definitely takes his name “The Mime” very seriously in that he has imaginary weapons that he needs for his performances. It was a slight bit of humor during such a dark issue and it actually made me smile. The new Rorshach definitely seems to have a much milder temperament and moral compass than his predecessor.
Into the Light
Upon breaking Erika and Marcos out of prison the new Rorschach leads the criminal duo through the sewers taking them to his base of operations. Turns out Rorschach has been using Dan Dreiberg’s Nite Owl base as his own hideout. However, that wouldn’t be the first or the last surprise to spring up in Dreibergs old stomping ground because we then learn that 2.0 has partnered with Ozymandias himself. Remember the x-rays from Veidt’s arctic base that I mentioned earlier? Well, its revealed that those were our first hint that Adrian Veidt, the worlds most brilliant man, has brain cancer and its spreading. He had Rorshach break Erika and Marcos out at the behest of Ozymandias who believes them to be crucial to his plan. What is Adrian’s plan? To find Doctor Manhattan and save his world. We get a flashback to the scene from Watchmen where Doctor Manhattan leaves Earth and tells Adrian “I’m leaving this galaxy for one less complicated”. This line plays into the next page because we are then transported to Metropolis at night. Whether directly or indirectly stated, it becomes clear that the DC universe is where Dr. Manhattan left to.
We see Superman and Lois Lane lying in bed in the dead of night and we see Superman dreaming. He’s dreaming of a talk he had with his parents when he was a teenager just before a dance. Johnathan and Martha being the supportive and nurturing parents that we’ve always known them to be. They’re trying to coach him through having to pretend to be weaker than he actually is and the reasons why they do it. “One day you’ll let the world in on your secret, Clark” is something that instantly made me think of Johnathan Kent’s speech to Clark during Man of Steel. As the dream progresses we see the Kents mulling over their sons future trying to reassure themselves, but all of that is brought to a screeching halt when another vehicle plows into the Kents pickup truck. This jerks Superman awake as we see him floating in the air panicked and visibly distraught. Then comes the part of this issue that shook me, we learn that Clark is having a nightmare about the night his parents died and that it is the first and only nightmare he has ever had.
Let me start this off by saying that I have been twiddling my thumbs waiting for the first issue of Doomsday Clock. Watchmen is one of my absolute favorite graphic novels EVER and even just the concept of that universe colliding with my favorite DC heroes got me absolutely giddy. I was even more excited when I began to realize just how thought out and planned this event was. So, with that said, you all can already tell that I was 50 shades of excited to get to my local comic book store Wednesday afternoon so that I could pick this up and let me tell you….. I was not disappointed.
Geoff John’s writing and handling of the Watchmen mythos is absolutely perfect in this issue. At no point does it feel like he is trying to reinvent these characters or make them do anything out of character. His opening Rorschach-style narration fits perfectly with the style and tone that was established by Alan Moore almost 31 years ago. John’s character additions of Erika Manson and Marcos Maez to the Watchmen world don’t seem forced or unrealistic, but they fit the universe as perfect as a glove.
Gary Frank’s art fits Geoff’s writing and the elements that he is establishing and working with perfectly as well. While Frank’s art is in no way reminiscent of Dave Gibbons and John Higgin’s original work with the 1986 graphic novel it still has that same fantastically realistic feel to it. Frank’s work makes the pages absolutely burst into motion and life. Each page and panel is packed with the perfect amount of detail for what needs to be conveyed. Every splatter of blood, busted tooth, and burning mob torch feels like its a movie prop. Frank and Geoff work together fantastically to craft a worthy new entry into the Watchmen corner of the universe that in no way seems like it doesn’t belong, but instead, like it is the next logical step.
Part of why I enjoyed this issue so much was the fact that while nothing extremely major happened in terms of plot, we are given a lot of information. We learn that there is a new Rorschach, the world found out about Ozymandias’s lie, and finding out a once diverted crisis is plowing full steam ahead towards fruition. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing “familiar” faces as well and wondering what happened to others.
As a longtime Watchmen fan, I was ecstatic to finally be stepping back into the world that I held so dear in my heart since the first time I read the graphic novel. Doomsday Clock #1 works as a fantastic way to kick off the Doomsday Clock event as well as a fantastic attention grabber. Geoff Johns and Gary Frank in no way disappointed me and I cannot wait to pick up Doomsday Clock #2.
Overall Doomsday Clock #2 is a firm 10/10 for me. Everyone should be racing to pick this issue up because this event seems like it’s going to be one helluva ride.