Subway Shorts – The Clock Is Ticking

From the moment DC Comics published its Rebirth last year, the company has been building to the release of DOOMSDAY CLOCK. Now that it’s out, the clock ticks closer to midnight.

Doomsday Clock 1
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils and Inks by Gary FrankĀ 
Colored by Brad Anderson

For more than 30 years, WATCHMEN has been a sacred cow for a certain segment of comic book fans. Despite its overwhelming success and constant reprints, it has (for the most part) remained in its own little corner of comic-dom, despite being owned by DC Comics. But that all changed last spring, when the publisher ended its 5-year NEW 52 project and kicked off its REBIRTH.

From the moment that Geoff Johns – who wrote the Rebirth issue – intimated that the darker, less hopeful version of the DC Universe we’ve been reading about lately was the in-story result of Watchmen’s all-powerful Doctor Manhattan, it kicked off the road to DOOMSDAY CLOCK, the first major story that would combine the world of Watchmen with the greater DC Universe.

If this story was in the hands of a writer other than Johns, I would be worried. But this kind of large-scale epic is right up his alley, and whatever Johns has planned for this 12-issue maxiseries, it’s going to be a slow build. In the first issue, we establish out timeline. It’s been 7 years since the end of Watchmen and the date as we’re told is November 22, 1992 – or November 23 – just days after the real-world release of SUPERMAN 75, the issue where Doomsday killed Superman.

The ending of Watchmen was meant to bring about an era of peace, as the countries of the world united after the attack Ozymandias orchestrated, but peace doesn’t last, as a commission proves that the world’s smartest man was responsible for the deaths of millions. Things break down quickly and the world is once again on the brink of annihilation, as President Robert Redford – fresh from re-election – sets toward a nuclear attack against Russia.

With the world going to hell again, it should be no surprise that Rorschach is back walking the streets, on a mission to “find God” to make everything right again. Considering Walter Kovacs was splattered across the ice at the end of Watchmen, we quickly learn this is a new Rorschach. And instead of partnering with the Nite Owl, he’s actually working for Ozymandias, operating out of Nite Owl’s old hideout. Ozymandias has pushed Rorschach to break the Marionette out of prison. She brought her husband, The Mime, along and Ozymandias – suffering from cancer – wants them to help him find Doctor Manhattan to help set the world right, but he left to find a simpler world in which to live at the end of Watchmen.

That simpler world is implied to be the DC Universe, as we flash back to the New 52 version of the death of Jonathan and Martha Kent, the parents of Superman/Clark Kent, who wakes up from the nightmare of reliving their death.

Out of context, this could be bad… but Superman is talking about nightmares… really.

Johns and collaborator Gary Frank do a wonderful job mimicking the style of writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons to bring us back into the world they created more than 30 years ago. And Johns has created enough mysteries within the first issue to form a compelling narrative. Who is this new Rorschach and how do two crazy criminals like The Marionette and the Mime play into this little drama?

I do have faith in Geoff Johns. And I love Gary Frank’s artwork – the pair have established a great rapport working together they gel really well here. DOOMSDAY CLOCK should be an epic read and a seminal story for the company going forward.

  • Casual_Kenny_Reigns

    You are literally the only person in the world I’m not mad at for reading this. In fact, I was hoping you’d enjoy this book since it seems to be the kind of book made for someone like you – someone who has a deep love of all the DC universe over the past 30 years.

    I’m happy to read it’s an enjoyable story. That’s good, because the stakes are high and delivering a bad story in this book would hurt the entire market.

    That being said, I don’t understand the point of this book. Like, who was anxious for the Watchmen universe to combine with the DC Universe before the latest relaunch?

    Anyway, it exists and I’m happy you like it.

    • I don’t know that anyone was clamoring for it, I doubt anyone was anxious for it. But when Geoff Johns has a story, and when Geoff Johns gets excited about the story that he comes up with, it generally has the potential to be something special.

      After the 12 issues are published, I don’t see a place for Dr. Manhattan or Ozymandias or Rorschach or any of the other Watchmen characters in the regular DC Universe. Maybe I’m being naive and optimistic about it all, who knows. As long as the story is good, I’m looking forward to see how things go.

      • Casual_Kenny_Reigns

        The only thing that matters is the quality of the story. I’m not trying to sound grumpy, I just really don’t see what bringing in 30-year old characters who had one story anyone cares about does for the broader DCU. But if it energizes Johns, good.

        My honest hope is the DCU is a better place afterwards for it. Maybe there’s a wonderful Superman story that can only be told with Watchmen characters and I hope this is it. The Watchmen characters should only be used now to elevate the main DC characters.

        So far DC has used Sandman and Watchmen…maybe they’ll toss in Swamp Thing and make it a big crossover? I dunno.

        • No, dude, I get it. Your reservations make perfect sense, and I’m not knocking your opinions at all. I really do hope this isn’t the first of many Watchmen-related stories, but something about using Dr. Manhattan to explain why the DCU has been so caustic the last few years just kind of makes sense.

          The Sandman thing, though, that felt needless to me. Though I gave up on the Metal crossover after two issues, since the whole thing felt needless. I get it, Batman’s a dick.

          • Casual_Kenny_Reigns

            Thanks. I don’t want to come off as bitter because really, it’s not like Alan Moore wants the characters back anyway and if DC can use them to tell a story people invested in the DCU enjoy, that’s a good thing.

            I read a piece from a guy who really likes Alan Moore and he was like “f you Geoff Johns for blaming the darkness of the DCU on a 30 year old comic.” I think the bias was important there, but I can still see his point. Johns has brought as much darkness as anyone. On the other hand, if blaming it all on Dr Manhattan leads to better stories for DCU characters, they should totally dump all the blame on Watchmen.

            The Metal thing was odd. A plus is they asked Gaiman’s permission and he wrote Dream’s dialog, so that’s a positive. I just don’t see why they keep going back to the well on Gaiman and Moore comics. If they want to strip mine the 80s, there’s tons there to use. Morrisson, Delano, Ostrander, and Milligan all wrote tremendous stuff back then.

            Anyway, I’m honestly hoping this continues to be a good comic that will fix the DCU.