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
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank
Colors by Brad Anderson
Cover by Frank and Anderson
Previously: Years after the events of Watchmen, Adrian Veidt travels to the DC Universe in search of Dr. Manhattan along with the new Rorschach, The Mime, and Marionette. Veidt and Rorschach decide to look for the smartest men on this Earth to begin their search, leaving Mime and Marionette handcuffed in Archie. The two criminals break out immediately while Rorschach heads to Wayne Manor and Vedit goes to meet Lex Luthor. Rorschach finds the Batcave and finds himself face to face with Batman while Veidt finds Luthor only to find that The Comedian is also at LexCorp Tower!
What Happened: The issue opens with a flashback showing the classic scene that starts Watchmen, the murder of The Comedian at the hands of Adrian Veidt. However, this time Eddie Blake doesn’t fall to his death. Instead, he falls through the pavement and somehow finds himself surfacing in Gotham Harbor, where Dr. Manhattan is there to greet him. We jump to the present to see The Comedian and Ozymandias duking it out, and this time Eddie is determined to get his vengeance. Eddie succeeds in throwing Adrian out of the window, but Adrian manages to slow his fall bit by bit until he crashes, injured but alive, onto a car on the street below.
After the prelude with Eddie and Ozy, the book cycles through three simultaneous stories. The Mime and The Marionette leave Archie’s landing site at Amusement Mile and go to grab a drink at a nearby bar. When they get there, they are immediately threatened by one of the bars tarpons. He tells them that this is The Joker’s turf, and he doesn’t like it when other people where makeup around there. When Marionette blows him off and tell shim she doesn’t know or care who The Joker is, he gets angry and pulls a knife on her. This turns out to be a bad idea, as The Mime points an invisible gun at him and kills him. This starts a brutal and bloody bar fight that ends with everyone dead except The Mime and Marionette. The couple finally get their drink, and then decide that it’s time to try and meet this “Joker.”
The second story appears to take place in a retirement home, where a handful of senior citizens argue over the television. There is a brief flash of a news report reminding us about the Department of Meta-human Affairs and their alleged plot to create good press for Superheroes. They cut away to an old detective movie called The Adjournment starring Nathaniel Dusk, a classic noir film. The entire time the show is playing, John Thunder stares out the window, convinced that his granddaughter is on her way to take him out. At the end of the issue, the classic news printings that accompany the issue detail more about the era that Dusk came from.
The primary plot of the issue is the long-awaited conversation between Rorschach and Batman. Batman demands that Rorschach explains how and why he’s in the Batcave, and Rorschach hands Bruce the original Rorschach’s journal. Batman immediately sits down to read the journal, and Rorschach waits somewhat impatiently. Alfred takes the newcomer upstairs and shows him to a room where he can shower. Once alone, we finally see the face of the new Rorschach as he obsessively washes himself, disgusted by his alliance with Veidt. He goes to sleep and has a nightmare, showing us a brief flashback to the Manhattan incident at the end of Watchmen, where we learn that Rorschach very nearly died in New York that day. He wakes up suddenly to find Bruce sitting next to him, who abruptly says that he finished the journal. Now that he’s read it, Bruce claims that he knows where to find Dr. Manhattan. The two put on their uniforms and head to Arkham Asylum, where Batman claims he has found “temporal anomalies” that suggest Manhattan’s involvement. He leads Rorschach to a cell where the anomalies are coming from, and Rorschach reads the words “We’re All Mad Here” scrawled on the wall in the cell. When he turns around he finds that Batman has closed the door, locking Rorschach in Arkham Asylum and leaving him there!
Thoughts on the issue: As Doomsday Clock gets more into the DCU, it’s not losing the style and gravitas that the first two issues had. Johns and Frank can’t rely on the hype of Watchmen returning anymore, and the story elevates to deliver. The fight between Eddie and Ozy is brief but satisfying, and serves as a good cold open of sorts for what is a pretty dense issue. The Mime and Marionette story is just some good and violent fun, which is very much in the vein of Alan Moore, but the other two plots have a lot to them. The Adjournment might not play into the larger Dr. Manhattan plot, but it still provides a surprisingly thorough story that reminds the reader of the Tales of the Black Freighter segments from the original Watchmen. The Rorschach/Batman plot ends up being a lot more about Rorschach than Batman, really showing us how damaged and intense the man is, and beginning to tell us how he got that way. The semi-twist ending of Batman locking up Rorschach is just pure Batman gold. And one last thing: That John Thunder character staring out the window is a member of the JSA, and provided us with the brief tease for the JSA in DCU Rebirth #1, the story that began this plotline. It would be very exciting to see the JSA return in this series.