Midway Story Slump & Too Many Plates Spinning? Reviewing Doomsday Clock #5

by Oliver MacNamee

With Rorschach, Ozymandias, the Comedian, and crime duo Marionette and Mime all now firmly ensconced on Prime Earth , issue #5 continues to move the story forward – slowly – and offers up varied scenes which show how these characters interact, and react, to this brave new world of metahumans. It also sheds some light on the global machinations of other metas that we haven’t seen in comics for some time; in particular Russia’s People’s Heroes and Markovia’s Outsiders (led by crown prince, Geo-Force) working in partnership with Russia. These two teams certainly refines the term ‘superpowers’ when it comes to geo-politics in the DCU.

Add to that Khandaq’s Black Adam, cleaning up extremism in his own country by his own extremist means, and we have a world-wide stage for the remainder of this saga to strut and fret upon. All the while, we get the time to look in on the aged Johnny Thunder as well as newly released Arkham inmate, Saturn Girl, now teamed-up with Rorschach. It’s something of a smörgåsbord of a book, and the first time I get the feeling maybe, just maybe, Geoff Johns is trying to achieve too much off of the back of this long-winded series.

It’s no secret that both the Legion of Superheroes and the Justice Society of America will relaunch from this book when it’s eventually done, but for me the focus should be solely on the Watchmen and their introduction into the DCverse. Anything else is becoming something of a distraction for me.

With so many plates spinning, the main story seems to be stalling, made worse by the bi-monthly schedule DC have had to adopt to maintain the quality of the art. And, what quality it is too. Gary Franks is an amazing artist and the absolute right fit for a book of this nature. His realistic style and eye for detail, space, and perspective means that it feels like a true sequel to Watchmen. But, look closer, and you can see the brilliance of what he achieves.

It’s not just that he gives each and every character a distinct, consistent look, but he drills down in his execution of such characters, giving them a fluidity of movement that’s very individual too. Each one of his characters is unique. No more so is this evident than in his depiction of Saturn Girl, or for that matter, Lois Lane. To create the sense of movement, especially in the confines of the tight 9 panel grid page layout, is an art form in itself. Add thanks to Franks’ superb, untouchable penmanship, and you’ve got a comic that, regardless of what others think, looks absolutely beautiful, even when depicting the most heinous of acts.

What is still a standout series, however, is starting to feel like any other blockbuster cross-over we’ve seen before. No matter how good – or bad -the central story, it’s now another comic book that is already looking to the future and the new titles that will no doubt be spawned by the success of this series. And that taints its uniqueness for me. What was billed as a Watchmen sequel, of sorts, has become a launching pad for so much more now. Half way through (almost) and some of the wind has come out of its sail for me. Shame. But, I dare say, the best is yet to come and it’s not unusual for a limited series of this nature to have a midway slump.

I hope.

Doomsday Clock #5 is currently available in shops from DC Comics.