Doomsday Clock #12
The confrontation between Superman, the central figure in the newly-minted DC Metaverse, and the god-like Doctor Manhattan is upon us. Manhattan’s blind spot in the future stems, he believes, from this moment in which either Superman destroys him for his meddling in the timeline or Manhattan destroys the universe. Superman, always a beacon of hope and light, offers a third option—“Maybe it takes everything you have to save your world. Maybe you make that choice.”
***CAUTION! MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!***
Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Brad Anderson, and Rob Leigh have spent the past two years producing one of the most thought-provoking mainstream comics in recent history. The narrative was simultaneously a glorious Elseworlds-type tale in which worlds collide but also something of a historical tome to the meta-history of the DC Universe. Similar in execution to Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s Planetary, Doomsday Clock takes a look at the movement of DC Comics over the decades from a third party perspective, positioning Doctor Manhattan in the position of The Reader. Where Planetary used its core members to look at various events and trends in comics and popular culture history, so too does Doomsday Clock by examining events with dates corresponding to comics release dates. In doing so, the creative team effectively crafts a love letter to DC Comics by highlighting and centralizing the first great success of the publisher—Superman.
The concept of the Metaverse, in which the central DC Earth is predicated on the first appearance of Superman and all subsequent changes to said origin have ripple effects on the rest of the Multiverse, was introduced in Doomsday Clock #10 but here, the stakes are intensified. After being inspired to return to his world and finally use his great power to fix the devastation there, Doctor Manhattan meddles one final time in the Metaverse, restarting the universe one final time before departing. The immediate ramifications of undoing his previous actions include the reinstatement of the Justice Society of America in the DC consciousness, as well as the Legion of Superheroes. Perhaps more immediate to the current status quo, though, is the return of Ma and Pa Kent. As we have seen over the course of the past several months, Scott Snyder (Justice League) and Brian Michael Bendis (Superman, Action Comics) have already begun to integrate the fruits of Johns’ labor to construct a DCU closer to pre-Flashpoint than post- but Doomsday Clock provides a definitive path forward. How well this movement will be folded into the rest of the DCU remains to be seen, however, as there are a number of moving parts and potential contradictions necessary to overcome thanks to the delays in Doomsday Clock’s shipping schedule.
There is so much to anticipate. We’ve seen rumors for quite some time about potential changes to the ages of some heroes while others will rise and assume the mantles of the older generations (references to Earth-5G no longer seem so exaggerated as it is directly referenced in this issue). But at the heart of it all, stands that sole survivor of the destruction of Krypton, his rocketship hurtling through the maelstrom, headed for his loving adoptive parents, the Kents. The Metaverse concept is described here as a way to preserve each era of Superman and promises that there will be new incarnations unto infinity but through all the changes, the constant remains that Earth’s greatest champion was raised by love. As we veer towards the end of the narrative, we see Doctor Manhattan sacrifice himself to restore his world, instilling his powers into the child of Mime and Marionette. He names the boy Clark and delivers him to Dan and Lauria (Nite-Owl and Silk Spectre, blissfully retired) in order to avoid the pitfalls of the Watchmen universe’s most powerful hero, although perhaps not its greatest.
And therein lies the moral of this two year tale. Superman, as he has existed in various forms over eight decades, represents the best of us. He always has and, if Johns is to be believed, he always will. A nearly failed cartoon strip developed by a pair of hopeful creators, sold for peanuts, represents the narrative of the American subconscious in the 20th century and beyond. There will always be the same old arguments. “He’s lame”, “he’s boring”, “he’s overpowered”, “he’s outdated”—but through all of that, he has persisted. Month in and month out, Superman persists to remind us of what we could be if we choose to hope. Choose to build, rather than destroy. Choose love over hate.
In the end, Doomsday Clock over-delivers. The narrative strings throughout the twelve issues all connect in clever ways. The removal of the Alan Scott version of Green Lantern felt somewhat odd in the beginning but we see the import of the presence of the JSA on Clark’s own coming out as Superboy, leading to his influence on the Legion, and everything falls carefully into place, like tumblers in a lock to a secret understand of the DC Universe. Frank and Anderson’s artwork remained consistently amazing throughout (the twist on the classic Watchmen button was nothing short of brilliant). Leigh’s lettering went a long way to evoking the spirit of the original series. It is quite possible that only this particular gathering of talent could have executed this story and they did so with grace and elegance (if not punctuality).
There is so much more that could be said. A careful dissection of this issue and indeed the series could take the length of book but that wasn’t my objective today. There will be a forthcoming special edition of The Comic Watchers Podcast where fellow editor and Comic Watchers host Matt Meyer and I discuss the series at length, so you can look forward to that but today, I simply hope that this review will motivate those of you that burned out on the wait or are still on the fence about the series in general to give it a look as those of us who hung in for the ride bore witness to something truly historic. The wait was worth it.
The wait is over and Doomsday Clock #12 (Johns, Frank, Sinclair, Leigh) is available today. SPOILERS AHEAD for an event that will surely go down as one of the most well-crafted superhero events in the history of comics.
Doomsday Clock #12: Hope is the North Star
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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