The Clock #1 Makes Cancer Even Scarier

A design of a clock with vines and the symbol for disease

As if cancer weren’t bad enough, Matt Hawkins’ The Clock #1 turns the disease into a weapon that will bring about a global pandemic if scientists can’t find a cure.

The Clock #1

Colleen Doran (artist), Matt Hawkins (writer), Troy Peteri (letterer), Elena Salcedo (editor), Bryan Valenza (colourist)
Top Cow Comics
January 8, 2020

A design of a clock with vines and the symbol for disease

The Clock opens with a trip to Nigeria where a scientist named Jack and his team are working to find a cure for a viral cancer that has the potential to eradicate half the world’s population in very little time. The community they find seems to be immune to the cancer, but they have their own problems when they are attacked by heavily armed militants. Whether or not the attack is related to the viral cancer threat, it sets the tone for a plot that is centered on the cold reality of death and how quickly it can hit us. Though Jack survives the attack, he soon learns that, back home, his wife has succumbed to the very disease he is seeking to cure.

Colleen Doran captures the heavy emotional weight of everything The Clock has to offer, from a young child expertly wielding a machine gun, to a graveyard filled with fresh graves and mourners, to the strands of DNA being devoured by the viral cancer at the heart of Jack’s research. Shifting from the intricately detailed tapestry of her work on Snow, Glass, Apples, Doran shows off her versatility with detailed imagery of a more realistic nature. Backgrounds vacillate between minutia to nothing at all, depending on where she wants the reader to focus. Hawkins allows Doran to do the heavy lifting on many of the pages where there is little to no dialogue.

When Jack does get to parceling out his findings, Hawkins is careful not to go overboard with the science. Though there is ample research behind this story, as with all of Hawkins’ work, he doesn’t seek to overwhelm the reader with it in each panel. Instead, as usual, readers can learn more about his research in the backmatter where he also provides links for further learning opportunities.

Putting this all in layperson’s terms doesn’t just serve the reader. It also means that convincing skeptical politicians of the imminent threat does not present the usual challenge we see in real times, since the death toll of viral cancer is already seeping into the media. But whether their intentions are good or not, the powers that be are at odds on whether or not the true magnitude of the situation should be communicated to the public.

And then, to make matters worse, Jack’s own daughter falls ill and, he learns, the disease itself might have far more ominous origins, the implications of which just might lead to World War III.

Cancer is a current event for far too many people, making this story a potentially difficult read from the get-go, but, toss in current events, and the ticking clock Jack must race against to find a cure and unravel the mystery makes The Clock one heavy read.

Wendy Browne

Wendy Browne

Publisher, mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.