Doomsday Clock #7
As we round the midpoint of the series into the latter half, things begin to heat up for our heroes. As we open the issue, we discover that Doctor Manhattan has mucked around with the time stream, resulting in the death of Alan Scott aka Green Lantern, rather than allowing Scott to live and form the Justice Society of America. Rorschach, Saturn Girl, and Johnny Thunder unite with Ozymandias to track down Manhattan, with Saturn Girl citing that her arrival in the 21st century is the result of a mission to track down a time anomaly that threatens Superman's existence.
While this unlikely quartet use a cloned Baubastis to track Manhattan (Baubastis was cloned using DNA from the moment when the original and Manhattan were vaporized together, as is explained in further detail in the additional materials at the end of the book), Joker, Marionette, and Mime continue their interrogation of The Comedian. The torture session is interrupted, however, when Batman frees himself, and again when Ozymandias and company arrive.
Using the Green Lantern and Baubastis together, Ozy manages to summon Doctor Manhattan and we finally see the man formerly known as Jon Osterman in all his naked glory within the confines of the canonical DCU. The band of refugees and miscreants is whisked away for a chat with "god" and the ensuing discussion reveals a few important facts. First, we discover that Marionette is pregnant again. Second, Rorschach learns that Ozymandias has been using him and does not, in fact, have cancer. But the third Revelation of Doctor Manhattan is the most crucial of them all, as he hints at an impending confrontation with "the most hopeful of them all", Superman, and the results seem to be either that Manhattan ends the DCU or that Superman ends him.
Johns and Frank have been behind schedule and constructing a very slow burn story up to this point. While each and every issue has had remarkable moments that have been bringing fans back for more despite the scheduling mishaps and the astounding amount of time between issues. That is why, when we reach a point such as this issue, fans breathe a sigh of relief, because it was all worth it. As we can see from the first page of this issue, Johns is devoted to capturing the spirit of Alan Moore-penned source material. While the narrative structure is not an exact mirror image, the style and composition match up, as we watch Manhattan’s unique view on time unfold as he alters time to erase a crucial era in superhero history for the DCU. The blending of characters from distinct time periods, such as the case with Saturn Girl and Johnny Thunder, also hearkens to the relationship between Hollis Mason and Daniel Dreiberg in the original, albeit with added levels of complication. There is a definite feel of reverence on every page.
Gary Frank perfectly compliments Johns in a way that makes one wonder what Johns’ scripts must look like. If you have ever seen Moore’s scripts to Gibbons for the original Watchmen series, you’ll see that every detail is meticulously mapped out. The majority of the issues deploys 9 frame panels, but unlike in cases where such panels are similar and create a time-slowing effect, these panels are disjointed, each telling a story out of sync with the others yet also perfectly connected. The prevalence of such panels serves to highlight moments in which the pattern is broken to great effect.
In many ways, Doomsday Clock is a comics story about comics stories. Doctor Manhattan plays the role of the new-age creator entering a long literary canon and deciding to bend it to their will. Erase this moment, amplify this one, and leave the story marked/marred by my interference. If you are willing to subscribe to that theory, the question of who the quartet of Rorschach, Ozymandias, Saturn Girl, and Johnny Thunder are becomes much more telling. They are us. The younger, die-hard fan eager to do whatever he can to preserve his own world at any cost to another; the academic fan, detached and removed from history outside his own sphere of understanding; the future fan who may not ever come into being if the timeline is not preserved; and the older fan who barely recognizes this world any longer, desperately clinging to anything that reminds him of how things used to be. If this quartet is fandom and Doctor Manhattan is the creator, a striking critique of the symbiosis between industry and fan begins to emerge in a way that very few series are capable of forging.
We have finally reached the point in which this series begins to make sense in terms of merging the two sets of characters into a shared universe, for however brief a time that may end up being. Doomsday Clock #7 strives for greatness and delivers on all counts.
Doomsday Clock #7: When the Man Comes Around
Writing - 9/10
Storyline - 9/10
Art - 9/10
Color - 9/10
Cover Art - 9/10
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