Doomsday Clock #1
Geoff Johns (Writer), Gary Frank (Artist), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer), Amedeo Turturro (Associate Editor) Brian Cunningham (Editor)
November 22, 2017
Geoff Johns and Gary Frank take us back to the world of Watchmen, several years after the ending of that story, and leave us with more questions than answers in the first issue of this limited series. Much like Watchmen before it, this series opens as a mystery, one that will take many issues to unravel.
Doomsday Clock was entertaining, but didn’t do as much for me as Dark Nights: Metal did with its first issue. While I trust Geoff Johns to deliver a good story, I’m pretty over Watchmen. The bits of the mystery we see in this first issue do intrigue me enough to keep me interested, but the issue was more Watchmen than DCU, and I’m more invested in their interactions than in continuing to see the world of Moore and Gibbons. Watchmen is a property that has been mined over and over, against the wishes of its creators. It is never out of print, there’s been a movie, there’s been a motion comic, there’s a TV series in the works. There were the prequel comics. It’s a world that I enjoyed once, but as it saturated everything around it, it became less unique and less fun. While I understand the narrative choice to open this way, it’s not the thing I’m looking forward to with this series.
On that note, the series opens seven years after the events of Watchmen, and gives us a familiar and unexpected narrator. Rorshach is still around, which is part of the overall mystery of the book. Ozymandias’s plan did not do what he hoped it would, and the world is in rougher shape than it had been even before he caused mass devastation in New York.
My biggest problem was the way this book tackles social issues, using the “both sides are wrong” narrative. The only saving grace for this idea, is that the person doing that blaming is a remarkably unreliable narrator, but it’s still a choice that was made by Johns. It’s also a weird choice to have the politics of the Watchmen Earth and our Earth to be so structurally similar, even though the story is set 25 years ago. There’s a celebrity president who’s golfing too much. There are accusations of collusion. There are hostilities with North Korea. It seemed to me that Johns was trying to be both apolitical and political at once with this book, and that’s not really something you can do with Watchmen. The original work was inherently political, so to tell this story right, you should be as well. Don’t try to play both sides, it will come off feeling clumsy.
Gary Frank and Brad Anderson do a good job of making these characters feel as though they haven’t changed. Part of that has to do with the utilization of Gibbons’ nine panel grid for a lot of the book, with some changes when it was needed for story reasons.
The two new characters were interesting additions to the universe, and I’m looking forward to seeing more from them as the series progresses.
All in all, Doomsday Clock #1 was a solid read, though underwhelming compared to the first issue of Dark Nights: Metal, DC’s other major event. While that comic hooked me from the word go, Doomsday Clock just has me mildly interested in seeing where it goes.