REVIEW: Doomsday Clock #4 (Rorschach test #1)

Walter Kovacs was murdered at the end of the original Watchmen story. Now find out the history of Reggie, the new Rorschach helping Ozymandias locate Dr. Manhattan. Decypher the mystery everyone is talking about in Doomsday Clock #4!

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Doomsday Clock #4
Author: Geoff Johns
Artists: Gary Frank
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics



What You Need to Know:
The DC Universe is expanding with the introduction to Alan Moore’s Watchmen characters. After the events of the original “Watchmen”, Adrian Veidt went into hiding. Everyone has learned about his plan to destroy most of Manhattan and bring about world peace. This has caused even more rioting and destruction as the doomsday clock gets closer to midnight. With the help of a newly found Rorschach and two very intense individuals named Marionette and Mime, Ozymandias has designed a way for the old Owlship to track Dr. Manhattan’s nuclear fingerprint and follow him to wherever he has gone into hiding.

After just beating the bombs dropping in their Universe the “Watchmen” characters crash land into a somewhat familiar place. Although they don’t know where they are, Ozymandias can tell that its a world very similar to theirs, “Ahead of our time in some ways, behind our time in others” Adrian explains. Adrian thinks he will find Dr. Manhattan here so he can convince him to save their world, so the first thing Adrian does is go online and learn all about the world he is in. After a while he finds the two smartest men he can come across; Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne being the names he spots, Adrian and Rorschach head through Gotham to find these two geniuses.

Meanwhile, in the DC Universe, Gotham has been rioting for the true identity of the Batman to be revealed, and on top of that, the US Government is being investigated for creating a mass amount of Metahumans just to fight for the USA. The DC Universe seems to be in the same type of peril the “Watchmen” Universe was in, with a doomsday clock also counting down to world destruction. Batman, who is out and about fighting criminals, hears an alert from his Batcave. He goes to investigate when one of the wildest meetings of comic history finally presents itself to us. Rorschach and Batman stand face to face in the Batcave as Batman tells the new Rorschach that he ate his breakfast. Rorschach tries to explain himself to Bruce but fails, for the most part, so he hands him Walter Kovacs’ journal so he can help decipher where Dr. Manhattan may be hiding. After a shower and some hard thinking, “Reggie” or the new Rorschach hopes for any chance to save his world and live peacefully, but this is quickly left in the dust when Batman warns him that he may know the location of one Dr. Osterman. After the two break into Arkham Asylum Batman leads the way. Batman stops and tells Rorschach to check the cell for Dr. Manhattan. As Rorschach gullibly walks into the Asylum cell Batman quickly slams the door behind him and tells Rorschach he belongs in here as he walks away.

At the same time as all this is going on, Ozymandias has easily located Lex Luthor which is perched up on the top floor of LexCorp where he is plotting to dissolve Wayne Enterprises and steal most of Bruce’s tech. Adrian walks in and starts to explain what had happened with his previous plan to end the cold war. Lex appropriately calls Adrian stupid and asks why he thought it would ever work. But before the two can really get into the heat of all this conversation Lex Luthor is shot, with Adrian not far from. Adrian turns swiftly and sees the impossible, a young Comedian alive and well sporting his Minutemen costume. We find out that When Adrian tossed Comedian out the window it was the doc who saved him and changed his age, even transporting him to an entirely different universe. Eddie Blake and Adrian Veidt fight it out in the dark with an awesome fight ending as Adrian hardly escapes with his life after Eddie ironically throws him through a window.

Of course not to forget about Marionette and Mime who have been locked up on the Owlship since the start of the mission. Marionette ran into Dr. Manhattan once when she was pregnant. She intervened when Manhattan was getting ready to kill Mime, the heartbeat inside of her shocked Manhattan and caused him to leave. This is why Ozy wants her around and knew she wouldn’t go anywhere without her hubby. Too bad these aren’t your normal characters. Mime picks the handcuffs open with an invisible lockpick. The two head to a bar where wearing clown makeup isn’t so welcome. Members of the Joker gang worn them to leave and not to be in Jokers territory wearing clown paint. Before any of these goons can think Mime starts blowing holes through peoples heads with his invisible gun. Marionette makes a guy lose a couple fingers with her razor wire that can cut through a revolver like its butter.  After taking down a whole bar full of Joker’s goons, they decide to have a drink and then go searching for the clown prince of crime himself.



What You’ll Find Out:
Issue number four of “Doomsday Clock” takes a break from its linear storyline for an issue about the origin of the new Rorschach. As of now, we know Batman has Reggie locked in Arkham where they start treating him like any other patient Batman has sent in there. The issue goes back and forth between when he was locked up after going crazy during the attack on Manhattan, and his time in Arkham. We come to find out that Reggie is the son of Malcolm Long, who originally is introduced as Walter Kovac’s (The original Rorschach) psychiatrist. Kovacs was the case that was gonna take Mals career to the top, But this was never able to happen after Mal and his wife died during the alien attack. Most people just thought Rorschach was crazy, but Mal saw more. He saw a broken man trying to help the world any way he can. This is what I assume Reggie thought about when he decided to dawn his mask and call himself the new Rorschach.

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Reggie’s first time in the Mental Ward went a lot like Walters time in Prison seen in the events of “Watchmen” with many fights and mostly just people trying to kill him or sedate him in any way possible. The only Solace Reggie found was in his friend Byron. Byron A.K.A. Mothman was seen by Reggie one night when he attempted to escape. Byron was butt naked with nothing but a winged cape made out of sheets and other materials found around the hospital. Byron flies off into the sky as security pulls Reggie back into the building. Ever since then Byron and Reggie became good friends. Byron could always be seen escaping the hospital and doing something hysterical before just popping back into the hospital like nothing ever happened.

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Reggie’s inner dialogue talks about how he was never a fighter, he never fought back until he decided he was done being the little man. With the help of Byron, they successfully burn the hospital down in an escape that ends with Byron soaring into the flames with an emotional Reggie watching in remorse. Reggie had found out that Adrian was the cause of the destruction just like everyone else and decided to finally fight back against the man that ruined his life. So after putting on Rorschach’s mask that Byron gave him he adventures to the isolated hiding spot of Adrian Veidt to murder him in cold blood. Adrian sees the phony and immediately calls out the imposter. But Reggie doesn;’t hesitate until Adrian breaks down about the remorse and regret he has for his actions. In a sincere, as possible, way Adrian apologizes and accepts his fate, but instead of killing him Reggie lets him down understanding that he is just another human who made mistakes.

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We learn all this as the doctors at Arkham dig into Reggie for information. For days, maybe weeks Reggie screams and shouts as he relives the nightmare of his past every second he spends in Arkham. As the issue goes on we witness a Jane Doe who seems to have taken an interest in Reggie. This Jane Doe for anyone not versed in DC lore is Imra Ardeen or Saturn Girl who is originally a member of The Legion of Superheroes, a team of DC heroes from the future that was influenced by Superman. By the end of the issue, Jane Doe approaches Reggie and mystically opens the door for him to escape. Batman and Alfred witness the escape realizing they may have underestimated the Jane Doe.

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What Just Happened?
Doomsday Clock” #4 was as good of an origin for this new Rorschach as issue #4 of “Watchmen” was for Dr. Manhattan. I learned everything about the character in one foul swoop without any loose ends or anything leaving me to scratch my head, and that’s what an origin story is supposed to be. The unique storytelling between the two points in time worked really well through the art as the dialogue all focuses on Reggie and his thoughts in Arkham as he remembers his past more than he wants to. The similarities between his time in the mental ward in his Universe and his time spent in Arkham is interesting to watch as you learn about the characters past and seems very influenced by Kovacs’ time spent in prison from the original story. We learn that Reggie was an innocent individual before the accident and it took him an extreme amount of conditioning to become what we see today. The transformation is seen through and through as the only thing Reggie had after the accident flies into the flames of their escape just to leave Reggie as alone as he was at the start. It’s easier now to understand why he acts the way he does. His mind has actually broken in a way that may be unfixable and his similarities to Kovacs wouldn’t be as unquestionable now without this character’s development.

The inclusion of Mothman and Saturn girl shows off the little bit of DC and Watchmen history Geoff seems to love so much. Everyone should know by now that Saturn Girl has been seen since Rebirth #1 and that the Legion should be making their comeback sometime soon. But the inclusion of an obscure Watchmen character is a highlight that brings this series closer to its parent story. The use of Mothman was one of a kind and made for amazing character development in the new Rorschach that makes him more likable as the series goes on.

Gary Frank’s art is still the magical eye candy it has been since Batman earth one with some of the best line work and detail seen in comics today. Gary redoes Dave Gibbons Watchmen setting in a way no other artist would have been able to, and he truly brings these characters to life in a way that Gibbons never could. Brand Andersons colors also help the magic of the art in this series. His use of light and dark makes us realize that this time spent in Arkham is an even more horrifying experience for Reggie than his time spent with Byron. Which how couldn’t it be seeing how he is locked up in a Universe he knows absolutely nothing about.



Similarities:

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Every month (now every other month) I read Doomsday Clock and Watchmen side by side to see what kind of similarities I can pick up on between the original and the new works. This review won’t go too in depth because the small similarities aren’t much different from any other issue. With the small section of extra information in the last two or three pages and the ending quote on the last page of every issue, it seems Doomsday Clock doesn’t take any shortcuts when trying to be like the original. Luckily it’s still unique and fun enough not to feel like an exhausting overuse of Alan Moore’s original characters.

For the most part, the only thing I wanted to touch on was the way this and issue #4 of “Watchmen” told their story. They took a break from the grand scheme of things to teach the reader about one specific character. In “Watchmen” we learn about Dr. Manhattan and how John Osterman became the big blue godlike character we know today. In “Doomsday Clock” we get the story of how Reggie Long picked up the mask from his dad’s former mental patient and followed in his footsteps to do what he felt was right no matter what. Both issues take you through different time periods and show you a few angles for each situation so it’s not all one linear story but more like a puzzle you have to fit together for yourself. By the end of each issue, you feel as though you actually do know these characters better. You also feel remorse for their stories and how they got where they are now. Both characters had to go through a life-changing event which caused them to practically die to the rest of the world, (one dies literally and the other loses his mind and gets sent to a hospital with no loved ones at all) but end up coming back as completely new individuals.



Rating: 9/10.
Final Thoughts: Some may say that this issue drags for them or that it felt like a hard to read spoonfed origin story. But to me, I saw an exact replica of “Watchmen” #4, but in a good way. Doomsday Clock has done the same thing so far as Watchmen” set out to do in the 80’s which was to deconstruct superhero comics. So far this series seems to be deconstructing everything “Watchmen” ever did and says “hey this is what optimism looks like”. This series is like “Watchmen” but with hope. This sort of optimism will hopefully set the trend for more hopeful stories in the future, and less than deal with so much realism in the fantasy world of superheroes! I recommend this issue to anyone looking to learn more about the new Rorschach or anyone that likes the similarities between this series and the original. But if you are too much of an Alan Moore fan to see his work deconstructed through this series than this issue definitely isn’t for you.



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