Doomsday Clock #1 – How To Solve A Problem Like Ozymandias?

by Oliver MacNamee

So, how does one approach a comic like DC Comics’ Watchmen sequel, Doomsday Clock, knowing that this is a first issue and more questions will be asked than answered? Especially when there have been plenty of spoilers and speculation already posted online, repeated across the internet?

There’s always the chance for any reviewer to recognise that such a property–albeit shunned by many a fan of the original series over the dodgy deal that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons signed–was never really going to be ignored by DC and, in retrospect, the Before Watchmen overkill prequels, were surely a way of testing the waters for the reintroduction of the Watchmen at some point. And, to be fair, they weren’t all that bad. Hit and miss, but not all that and at all.

It would also give any reviewer the opportunity to comment on the safe hands this property has been placed in. Geoff Johns bleeds DC and the inclusion of Gary Franks on art duties, a reviewer might add, should not be frowned upon but applauded. Indeed this partnership delivered one of the best runs on Action Comics since John Byrne’s remixing of The Man of Steel after Crisis on Infinite Earths and it certainly saw Superman return to greatness in comics that he was never going to achieve as the NuDC Superman from 2011 until DC’s Rebirth returned him back to the post-Crisis, pre-Flashpoint hero I grew up with and admired. That Superman would never wear a baseball cap backwards like the new school Clark did. That’s one opinion that could be put forward, I imagine.

The reviewer could then go on to remind the pessimists out there that Johns clearly loves DC, thereby repeating this point of view for effect and clarity. This would then give any reviewer the opportunity to point this out and to even emphasise this to the die-hard fans that won’t get on board no matter how well received the book may be. Well, it’s out there and it’s screaming for your attention. In fact, a brave reviewer may even take this chance to point out that it’s amazing that DC have allowed these characters such grace and favours until now.

They might even be brave enough to recommend this because of the art, the story, the opacity of it all. Like the first ‘whodunnit’ series–but with spandex–this is a challenging and frustrating read which can only encourage readers to pick up the next issue, and the next, and the next. Part of the joy of Moore and Gibbons’ story was in following the clues and being genuinely surprised, time and time again. That’s what a reviewer could say too.

A reviewer may then focus on the subtle intricacies that Johns has included, just as Moore did those many decades ago. The intricacies that, maybe, wouldn’t have been included by such a talent as Johns, if he hadn’t had one of the most revered comic book series of all time as a high bar to aim for and to be compared to. Rather him than me. The attention to detail that sees obvious echoes of particular scenes, pages, and events transplanted into this comic, offers the reader both the comfortingly familiar and the jarringly surprising.

Nothing last forever, and it would seem, like Hitler’s dreams of a 1,000 year Reich, Veidt’s dreams were also very, very prematurely shattered. Arrogance and intelligence, as a keen eyed reviewer might add, never mix. As a scruffy looking nerf-herder once famously said, ‘Don’t get cocky, kid.’ But, he did and the world is now paying. In spades. They might even rhetorically ask: since when was Ozymandias such a fan of dress-up once more? Or, is this part of a mental deterioration brought on by the cancer in his noggin? I would if I was reviewing this comic.

These reviewers may then bring their own knowledge and understanding of Watchmen to bare, looking for the potential links between Watchmen and the DC Universe and pointing to such evidence as the date of 22nd November being both the date on which the death of Superman was first published back in 1992 and the date on which Dr. Manhattan was created, albeit not in 1992, but a lifetime ago. Synchronicity, do you think?

Then, they could look to find clues and links where they may only be red herrings. Some reviewers may even note that this new Rorschach is rather short. He’d never make it through basic training as a Stormtrooper, that’s for sure. A spoiler would then preface the revelation that Rorschach 2.0 is African-American. Hell, with so many reviewers speculating because of the noise around this debut issue, and the attempt at standing out from the crowd, they may even jump to unfounded, but hopeful, conclusions.

For example, give than Walter Kovacs was standing front and centre right under our noses in the original, it wouldn’t be too much of a leap of faith, for some, to theorise that the African American woman on the front cover of the book could very well be under the mask. Although, when Ozymandias mentions Rorschach as a ‘He’ in the comic, this wouldn’t be the case. Just speculation. Surely?

There’s just so much a reviewer could include and attempt to reassure readers that this is a great first issue with a tone and balance very evocative of the original seminal series. They could remind the readers that this was only a starting point, a taster of what’s to come and well worth the entry fee.

Said reviewer might then provide a quotable summary, something like, ‘A promising, powerful, prophetic first issue’ or something else that could capture the eyes of DC and turn up as a nice pull quote on the back of the eventual collected edition. I dunno, I’m just here to offer advice and read some cool comics.

Doomsday Clock #1 is out now (like you didn’t know that already) from DC Comics.