The most anticipated Comic Book event in recent years has finally arrived, and man is it a doozy! This direct sequel to Allen Moore’s “Watchmen” will bring together the characters from the Watchmen universe and the DC characters we all know and love, for possibly the most epic tale ever told in a comic book.
Doomsday Clock #1
Authors: Geoff Johns
Artists: Gary Frank
Inkers: Gary Frank
Colors: Brad Anderson
Publisher: DC Comics
What You Need to Know:
For this review, I’m going to do something a little different. I know there will be a hundred reviews on Doomsday Clock out there from reviewers that have known the Watchmen story since it came out in the 80’s, and since I’m not even that old I’ve only truly read Watchmen once. So I hope you will all join me monthly for a unique take on this comic review.
If you know the Watchmen story then you probably know how it ended, but for those of you who are new and haven’t had time to read Watchmen then that’s okay too. In the final pages of Watchmen Ozymandias completes his task to bring peace to the world and stop the world superpowers from launching their nukes. Rorschach (the last true vigilante in the streets) won’t let this go unknown, but before he can tell anyone Dr. Manhattan stops him in his tracks killing him in cold blood, but this wasn’t going to stop him from spreading the truth. Somehow, his journal ended up in the hands of a young news author from The New Frontiersman, where the audience is left wondering if the truth will get out, or if the great lie will stand as the true peacemaker.
What You’ll Find Out:
The first issue opens up in the world of Watchmen where Rorschach is back in a prison, only on the other side of the bars, as he searches for a new partner in helping to “find God”. This new character is a bad attitude having woman named “Marionette” who isn’t too happy to see Rorschach, but quickly we come to find out this isn’t Walter Kovacs behind the mask, but another new character impersonating the well-known vigilante.
Marionette refuses to leave the prison without her husband “Mime”, which is another new character who is mute and seems to tote around imaginary pistols that at one point in the story he actually points at Rorschach.
After finding both mysterious new partners he leads them down a familiar tunnel leading to none other than Night Owl’s old basement. After long arguments about what they are doing, who they are meeting, and where the two fugitives’ child is, they are met by Adrian Veidt A.K.A Ozymandias! Adrian explains the situation as vaguely as possible, only giving information that is already mostly known and no new knowledge to the reader. He goes on to tell the three that his time of peace has crumbled after his true plan was revealed to the public, no one has seen or heard of the other members of the Minutemen since around the time of the events of “Watchmen”. Then Veidt reveals the mission of the new group, hoping to find Night Owl and rejoin forces to find Dr. Manhattan!
We then leave the Watchmen world and see Clark Kent sleeping peacefully, or so we think. The panels open to a younger Clark being driven to a school dance by his parents, the same night they wrecked. Startled, Clark wakes up to Lois telling him he was having a nightmare when Superman says “I don’t think I’ve ever had a Nightmare.”.
What Just Happened?
After a week of sitting on the knowledge from this story, I’ve had time to see every corner of this book and I love every single page, panel, and speech bubble. Geoff John’s doing what he does best brings us a sequel no one saw coming and did not disappoint first thing out of the gate. This first issue of Doomsday Clock mirrors the first issue of Watchmen in such a remarkable way that peaked my interest right away. From the way Johns uses familiar monologue speech from Rorschach in the first few pages all the way to the end panels with the quotes from earlier or connecting works, everything makes this feel like a true Watchmen title that could have come out right after the first and it wouldn’t have felt any different than it does now.
Gary Frank’s art is magical in the way it captures Dave Gibbons original tone without feeling like he tried to mimic the original artwork. The way he set the tone really makes you feel like this is a Watchman comic and not something in normal DC continuity, and when the final pages flip to the main DC universe he subtly changes the tone with ease to make you know that this isn’t the same universe, but without it being overdone or flashy. Rorschach’s mask is just as well done as when Gibbons had done it, maybe even better (only my opinion please don’t yell at me) due to the realism his style gave each character, as though this were a film inspired book and not a stand-alone comic series.
Although not much happens within this issue it was truly remarkable to read a book that felt like it was written in the eighty’s, knowing it came out a week ago. Even if I had no idea what Watchmen was I feel as though I could have picked this book up and read it still being very satisfied with the story as is, even if I were a little confused by some underlying plots from the original series, it still felt stand-alone enough to be able to enjoy with little knowledge of the Watchmen characters. As just a comic book and not basing it off any feelings towards the original Watchmen series I still loved reading the issue and it left me wanting so much more from this creative team.
This section will be exclusive to my review of Doomsday Clock as a way to show the similarities between each issue of Doomsday Clock and it’s corresponding issue of Watchmen. I’m sure I’ll miss all kinds of things that people who have known the Watchmen story will pick up on before I do, and I hope to see all kinds of comments showing more and more Easter eggs fans find between both series.
First thing I immediately notice is that the first appearance of Rorschach’s mask is on page six in both books, both even straying from the 9-panel grid to a full third-page panel to show off the now famous mask. Also, Doomsday Clock opens up with a monologue from Rorschach before he’s ever seen, although the difference here is that this Rorschach doesn’t write his thoughts down, which means he may not be as trustworthy of a narrator as he seems to be forgetful.
Another immediate similarity which doesn’t really even have to be said is the nine-panel layout that only gets somewhat changed every other page or so to fit the narrative and story, but another not so noticeable theme is the titles that come between panels at least once per issue, in issue one of the watchmen it said “At Midnight, All the Agents…”, and in Doomsday Clock it reads “That Annihilated Place”, also they are both placed right after the first time Rorschach makes his first appearance.
Going all the way to the back of both issues we see pages of information from articles and stories from the Watchmen universe, for example: in Watchmen we get to read the first few pages of Under the Hood by Hollis Mason, the original Night Owl. In Doomsday Clock we get the menu from Rorschach’s breakfast Cafe and a few articles one including the story of the publisher who actually found Rorschach’s journal, and the big article stating the truth about Adrian and his plan to destroy a city with an intergalactic monster in order to bring about world peace. These final pages are some of the best parts of both series giving you a sense of being truly involved in this world, getting to read things that the characters themselves get to read giving you even more information about the world itself.
One last thing I noticed that I believe I touched on earlier is the end panels. These small black panels usually read a single quote from just about anything. In Watchman #1 the last panel says “At midnight, all the agents and superhuman crew, go out and round up everyone who knows.more than they do. -Bob Dylan” Which starts with the same words that the panel at the beginning of the story reads. In Doomsday Clock the final panel reads “He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess what powerful but unrecorded race once dwelt in that Annihilated place. -Ozymandias” which ends with the words from the beginning of the story.
I hope to keep this section going as Doomsday Clock roles out. I will actually be re-reading every chapter of Watchmen simultaneously as each issue of Doomsday Clock is released to keep up with what exactly Johns mirrors from issue to issue, hopefully giving these reviews a different look at each issue of Doomsday Clock than most others on the internet.
Final Thoughts: I give Johns and Frank a perfect score for bringing the Watchmen back to life (figuratively speaking) in a sequel that many were very skeptical about, and knocking it out of the park. This book perfectly picks up where watchmen ends, and even though it mirrors Watchman in such a beautiful way its executed to feel like a true sequel and not just some stale copy of the original work by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. In an era that seems to feel a lot like the time when Watchmen’s themes were relevant, I can’t think of a better time to pick these characters back up to see what truly has the bigger cost, hope or cynicism.