“Echoes And Reverberations”: Reviewing DC’s Doomsday Clock #3

by Oliver MacNamee

Once again, the original Watchmen storyline does more than inform this issue’s narrative. It literally smashes through, revealing a very alternative ending for The Comedian, who’s body, admittedly, we never see deceased at the scene of the crime way, way back in Watchmen #1. It would seem that like Jor-el, over in recent issues of Action Comics and Detective Comics, Dr. Manhattan is making something of a habit of snatching people from their timelines, right before their demise. And, while we are nowhere nearer to understanding Manhattan’s masterplan–with still no sign of Superman–we do get to see more of the odd couple Rorschach and Batman, who is some other parallel universe have their own sit-com, I hope.

Although, I imagine the laughs are thin on the ground. The way Batman works with Rorschach so willingly may have some readers scratching their head, but when you read to the end of the comic, you’ll understand. Batman can still be one mean hombre when he needs to be.

But, it’s not just The Comedian reliving his last moments in a panel-by-panel homage to the the original series, there are other echoes and reverberations that resonant throughout this book. We have a different iteration of the battle between Edward Blake and The World’s Smartest Man as they battle it out, and it’s Ozy that gets flung out of the window this time. Instead of Tales of The Black Freighter, we have Nathaniel Dusk movies cutting through this issue in a similar vein, and in the revelation of Rorschach’s face, we have a similar non entity seemingly inhabiting the mask, too. All very Ditko, I must say.

But, there are other seeds sown that will bloom over time. An ageing Johnny Thunder looks depressing out on an equally depressing day. Surely a herald to the return of The JSA at a later date? Meanwhile, Marionette and Mime fall across a gaggle of goons (surely the collective nouns for such types?) who work for The Joker. The savagery they display in tearing up the bar reminds me of a similar scene in Watchmen when Rorschach was investigating The Comedian’s death. The colours, the tone, the very layout of the page all resonate with this earlier scene. And, that can’t be a coincidence. There behaviour isn’t a million miles away from The Joker’s, so when they do eventually meet, I imagine they’ll get along very well. Could Mime be one of the three Jokers we saw in DC’s Rebirth one shot? And, the third, one from the JSA’s past? Curiouser and curiouser.

This is another great issue, albeit one that is a slow burner. Which would be fine if this was a monthly comic, but with the announcement this week of it going bi-monthy, that slow burn becomes a hindrance. A book that’s only a quarter of the way through telling it’s story should consider picking up the pace if I’m only reading it every 60 days or so. But, quality matters and I’d rather have Gary Franks and Geoff Johns on this book than any stand-ins. I just hope they don’t fill the void with one-shots and mini-series, thereby elongate and exploiting this story and diluting it’s supposed importance to the shaping of the future of DC. There are already consequences being felt in other DC books, especially with Gotham’s newfound distrust of Batman and the growing concerns that the US government are in some way involved with the rise of the meta human in America. That’s enough for me and my wallet, thank you very much.

It’s all good stuff. Political conspiracies, the slightest of hints of Dr. Manhattan, and a nagging at the back of my head that all the prose included as additional reading holds some clue to future issues and to Dr. Manhattan’s whereabouts in the DC universe. On second reading, this is a comic book that has more to it than first meets the eye, and is deserving of a second, longer, ponderous read methinks.

Doomsday Clock #3 is out now from DC Comics.