Doomsday Clock #1
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank
Colors by Brad Anderson
Cover by Frank and Anderson
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
Also, In DC Universe: Rebirth #1, Batman found a smiley face pin in the Batcave. Since then, there have been numerous indications that Dr. Manhattan had something do with the creation of the current timeline established at the end of Flashpoint, as well as other phenomena like killing Owlman on the Mobius chair, trying to get rid of the original Wally West, and saving Jor-El from the death of Krypton to turn him into Mr. Oz.
What Happened: The majority of the first issue of the highly anticipated maxi-series that promises to bring together Watchmen and the DCU is spent on updating readers on the current state of the Watchmen universe. In classic Watchmen fashion, this is done by showing a visual montage of current events with Rorshach’s journal providing the narration, as well as segments from news broadcasts. The year is 1992, and the global peace brought about by Ozymandias’ plan at the end of Watchmen didn’t last long. The truth came out, and the tensions across the world erupted to be even worse than they were before. None of The Watchmen have been seen or heard of, a worldwide manhunt is ongoing in an attempt to find Ozymandias, and Rorschach’s Journal was even stolen. The narration describes the “undeplorables” and “totalitarians” that are at each other’s throats, as we see an angry mob with picket signs outside Adrian Veidt’s building. A protester breaks the glass, and is shot by a police officer. The rest of the world shows similar breaking points, as Russia invades Poland and triggers a global war. All television and news stations shut down, and the entire country frantically prepares to evacuate to Mexico or Canada to avoid nuclear devastation.
With the scene appropriately set, we find ourselves in a familiar scene: Rorschach is in a prison, but this time he’s the one trying to bust someone else out. Nuclear missiles launch across the world as Rorschach find the cell he’s looking for. The criminal inside is Erika Manson, better known as The Marionette. Rorschach asks her to come with him, and she immediately refuses, saying he threatened to murder her the last time they met. Rorschach uses this opportunity to tell her as well as the audience that he’s not the same man as the Rorschach the world once knew, and proves this by removing his glove to show that he is African American. He hands the woman a picture of a child, telling her that if she helps him and his partner, she will learn where the boy is. She demands to know where her son is, but Rorschach says he doesn’t know, only his partner knows. They need her help to find God and save the world. She agrees to go, but only if she is allowed to bring her husband. Marcos Maez, a.k.a. The Mime, is elsewhere in the prison, and the two of them need to go break him out. They achieve this in a typically violent fashion. They escape among the pandemonium of the evacuation, and Rorschach takes them into New York City to meet his partner. Rorschach takes his new companions to a familiar place, the underground headquarters of the now missing Nite Owl, complete with his old costume and Archie, his ship. Nite Owl is not Rorschach’s partner, however. Ozymandias enters, revealing himself to be Rorschach’s mysterious partner, still trying to secretly save the world. He’s in a rush to do so as well, because he’s dying of cancer. He knows he cannot save the world, but Dr. Manhattan can. He knows he’s out there somewhere, he just needs to find out where.
As Ozymandias contemplates the location of his old friend Jon, we are taken to the main DC Universe, where Clark Kent is having a nightmare. He’s at his high school prom, except he doesn’t have a date. Pete Ross is taking Lana, and Clark just feels lonely and strange, burdened by his secret. He watches Pete and Lana dance, as his parents fatally crash their car just like they did when Clark was a teenager. Clark is jolted awake by Lois’ voice, who is shouting at him to wake up. She tells him that he was shouting and the room was shaking. Lois doesn’t remember the last time Clark had a nightmare, and he tells her that he doesn’t think he’s ever had one.
Thoughts on the issue: After all the build-up and the hype, Doomsday Clock is finally here, and it doesn’t shock and amaze the way a lot of people were expecting it to. On the contrary, it shows great restraint, taking the time to set the scene and properly revisit the Watchmen universe. This book easily could have just given us a quick shot of Ozy and Manhattan for two pages, then getting along to Superman and the Multiverse and teasing all kinds of crazy stuff without providing a lot of substance. Johns does the opposite of this, really making the Watchmen world feel like it’s naturally continued from it’s state at the end of the original series. A quick scene at the end shows that larger and different things are soon to come, but make no mistake: This is a follow-up to Watchmen, and the creative team is not taking that lightly. Gary Frank and Brad Anderson show why they are regular favorites of Johns’ to work with, with stunning art and colors that effectively recall the work of Dave Gibbons without making the artwork feel dated.
The Mime and The Marionette are old Charlton characters, which is a nice nod to the original pitch of Watchmen to be about the later years of Charlton heroes like Captain Atom (changed to Dr. Manhattan), Blue Beetle (Nite Owl), and The Question (Rorschach.)