Viral Outbreak, Global Conspiracy, And Ethical Dilemma: The Clock #1

by Brendan M. Allen

Within three weeks, hundreds of millions of healthy people worldwide contract various forms of aggressive cancer, and the proliferation, seemingly a viral outbreak, stumps the best scientific minds available.

After a leading cancer researcher loses his wife and watches his nine-year-old daughter begin to succumb to the same illness, he must race against the clock to end a global conspiracy that could propel the world straight into WWIII…or worse.

In The Clock #1, a convoy of trucks arrives at a tent city in Nigeria, bearing gifts. Plying the locals with food, water, and vaccines, the team immediately bends the rules of ethical medicine by collecting blood and tissue samples without informed consent. The justification? Secret global epidemic. Weaponized cancer. These are the “good guys.” They’re here to help.

Series writer Matt Hawkins did his homework for The Clock and provides several pages of receipts at the end of this chapter. If you were wondering if cancer could, in fact, be weaponized, it theoretically could. Hawkins attended a Biotech conference and befriended some PhDs who helped him fact check the medical and science-y bits.

As strong as the science is, it would have been nice to get to know the characters a little. Most of the dialogue serves to drive the cancer plot. Aside from knowing this doctor has a saviour complex, little compunction about crossing serious ethical boundaries, a dad that is seriously juiced, and that his wife and kid get sick, we really don’t learn much about the guy.

Art by Colleen Doran and Bryan Valenza suits the thematic elements of Hawkins’ script fairly well. Characters are distinct and memorable. Some of the settings and backgrounds seem like they get recycled, though. The refugee camp in Nigeria looks strikingly similar to the graveyard in DC. Maybe that was intentional?

So far, The Clock doesn’t do much to separate itself from the pack. There’s nothing glaringly bad about it, it just doesn’t pack much punch. It serves its purpose as a first issue. Characters introduced? Check. Massive, global issue that needs addressing? Also, check. Interesting, complex characters? Not so much. Yet. Maybe. There’s potential, but it’s going to take at least another chapter to sell me on this one.

The Clock #1 (of 4), Image Comics/Top Cow Productions, 08 January 2020. Written by Matt Hawkins, art/cover by Colleen Doran, color by Bryan Valenza, letters by Troy Peteri, edited by Elena Salcedo, produced by Vincent Valentine.

Brendan M. Allen

Brendan Allen has probably had more jobs than you would reasonably believe. Dog trainer? He’s done it. Flooring contractor? You bet! EMT? Army NBC specialist? Road dog for a Celtic rock band? Yes, yes, and och aye! Now he reads comics and writes about them. It's a rough gig. You can follow Brendan on Twitter @SaintAmish where he mostly tweets about comic books and cystic fibrosis awareness.

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