I have a lot of skepticism when it comes to Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Doomsday Clock series. I, unlike many people, do not necessarily have a strong tie to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen. It was a series that changed the face of the superhero industry and pushed it away from the fun and heroic comics that I loved in the Bronze Age to the Dark Age that the modern age perpetuates. However, I am intrigued by the new comic book.
Doomsday Clock opens up much like the original Watchmen. It’s a beautiful nine panel layout that made the series so interesting to originally read. I actually caught these pages first at NYCC ’17 where we received ashcans for going to an interview with Geoff Johns himself. The story plays out giving hints of the world of Watchmen as it changed over the last few years. It’s grown darker. It’s continued to attack itself, and much like the cancer you find is growing on Adrien Veidt’s head, infected.
These are some of things I hate about the universe. It’s dark. The heroes are not truly heroes. They have a darkness in them that takes over the entirety of the universe. People like the more realistic characters. They’re trained with the same kind of things we are. I, however, like my heroes to stand for something more. Rorschach here has the same brutal tone, although he’s shown as a new character. This adds a legacy to the universe the CBR mentions in their own review of the series.
The idea of infection could be linked directly back to the DC Rebirth One-Shot, also by Johns. The DCU universe lost ten years, but also lost a lot of the relationships and legacy that made the DC universe something I wanted to explore in my late teens. Johns subtlety linked this connection to Dr. Manhattan. He changed time. He broke relationships. He made this universe less.
This open salvo shows Veidt trying to find Dr. Manhattan to save their universe. It creates an interesting concept for this sequel considering Veidt was the reason that Manhattan left in the first place, and it created some intriguing ideas to follow.
Finally, I picked up Doomsday Clock #1 because at the core it’s a Superman story. Superman is the primeval superhero, and creates a great juxtaposition for the characters in the Watchmen universe. It’s interesting that Johns starts the Superman segment with the death of the Kents. This is something that’s only been alluded to in the comic books, but as far as I know (and I may be wrong), yet to be shown. It sets up for a bit of a darker story with this depressing nightmare being how we first see Clark and Lois here.
At his core, however, Superman stands for truth and justice in much the same way that Rorschach does. He is a hero at his core like Nite Owl, and he wants to better the world like Veidt. He’s also powerful like Dr.Manhattan. All these things make him personally stand a step above the Watchmen characters, but also gives Johns much to explore throughout the series. It’s why I am excited to see this play out and see if Johns can truly bring hope back to the DCU and maybe even infect some of that same hope into the Watchmen Universe.