SPOILER WARNING: Usually our reviews are relatively spoiler free, allowing you to read and enjoy the issue. While this issue is still readable and enjoyable after reading this review, it may contain more spoilers than our normal content.
Doomsday Clock #4
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Gary Frank
Colors by: Brad Anderson
Cover by: Gary Frank and Brad Anderson
What You Need to Know: After coming from the Watchmen Universe to the DCU with Adrian Veidt, the new man calling himself Rorschach went to Batman and told him his story. Batman pretended to believe him and then he took Rorschach to Arkham Asylum.
What Just Happened: The fourth chapter of Doomsday Clock centers almost entirely around Rorschach, showing his time at Arkham Asylum as well as flashing back to his life back in the Watchmen Universe, highlighting the ways in which the two parallel each other.
The new Rorschach is Reggie Long, the son of Malcolm Young, the psychiatrist who interviews Rorschach in Watchmen. He’s an only child, and never really made any serious friends growing up. When Rorschach is arrested while Reggie is in college, his relationship with his parents begins to strain. Everything in his life changed the day of the New York incident. Reggie was driving his car into the city, stuck in traffic, and was just barely outside the range of destruction when Veidt executed his master plan. Being so close to such atrocity broke Reggie and he was instantly committed to an asylum.
He is stricken with severe PTSD and cannot avoid seeing the death that he witnessed in New York and his time at the asylum quickly becomes violent. He tried to escape one night and ran to the roof, where he found a man was already up there. He claimed he could fly and told him that his secret is visualizing his goals in his mind so that he sees what he wants to see and so it is. He takes off his jacket to reveal himself standing stark naked, wearing giant moth wings made out of fabric. He flies off into the distance as Reggie is taken back inside, unsure if what he saw was real, but armed with a new technique to cope with his time at the asylum, if not with his own grief.
One day the old man is back at the asylum, and Reggie is able to confirm that what he saw was real that night. The old man is Mothman, one of the original Minutemen, and he frequently flies away and returns with contraband for other inmates. He brings Reggie all of the contents of his late father’s desk, including his notes on the original Rorschach, and Reggie reads his words for the first time. Mothman takes a liking to Reggie, and starts to train him. Not only does he teach him how to fight and defend himself, but he also teaches him about the stories of all of the Minutemen, making him into a “One-Man Minuteman.” And while his time at the asylum never gets comfortable, it becomes far less dangerous.
Then one day in 1992, the story broke that Adrian Veidt was the perpetrator of the New York Incident, not an alien species, and now Reggie has someone to blame. He breaks out of the asylum by burning it down and is given two last gifts from Mothman: a lead on Veidt’s location and the mask of Rorschach. Reggie makes his way to Oymandias’ arctic lair, where he finds a regretful, dying man. The dying man apologizes to the new Rorschach, saying he saw the truth too late. Reggie drops his weapon, confused at the remorse he’s seeing from the man he came to kill. He agrees to help find Dr. Manhattan in order to fix everything, and begins the series of events that lead the two to the DCU.
In the present, Reggie’s time at Arkham Asylum begins similarly, with violent treatment from the staff and other inmates. He begins to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Matthew Mason, who very early sees that Reggie does not handle captivity well. He asks him about The Batman and why he wears a mask and Reggie is entirely unimpressed by him. Reggie keeps his head down, motivated by his goal to escape and find Dr. Manhattan.
We start to see that he’s being watched from time to time by a Jane Doe in the asylum. After Reggie has remembered all of his backstory, Jane addresses him by name one night and says that she’s been in his head for the past few days and he should consider her a friend.
The issue closes with the revelation that Dr. Mason is actually Bruce Wayne in disguise, still keeping an eye on Rorschach while he’s in Arkham!
This issue is very clearly inspired by the sixth issue of Watchmen in which Walter Kovacs is in jail, remembering his own childhood as he is interviewed by Malcolm Long, and it provides a wonderful tribute. The backstory of the new Rorschach is dark and compelling, as a Rorschach origin should be, and lives on its own while still connecting satisfyingly to the events of Watchmen. The inclusion of Mothman adds a fun slant to the story that reminds me of Morgan Freeman’s character from Shawshank redemption.
Both reveal at the end succeed in connecting the issue to the main plot of the story. The twist that Batman was around the whole time was surprising and Jane Doe saying that she could read Reggie’s mind was exciting. Saturn Girl has been sitting in that cell since Rebirth, and it’s looking like we may finally reconnect with the Legion of Superheroes soon. The idea that her reading his mind represents the panels of flashback that we saw is also a very interesting narrative twist thrown in at the end.
As usual, the art from Gary Frank delivered on all of the emotional gravitas of this intense issue.