Written by: Mathew ‘JJ’ Simoes
Wow… this review is late. After over a year of build-up, the long running plot thread in DC’s Rebirth line takes it’s first steps in reaching a climactic conclusion in the first issue of Doomsday Clock. This series was promised to explore Doctor Manhattan’s role in creating the New 52, and bring the characters of the DC Universe together with those of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen. While this concept seemed outrageous when first announced, because when has fucking with Watchmen ever ended well, but Geoff Johns proves that he’s just the writer to make it all work.
The series’ debut issue opens seven years after the climax of Watchmen, and it answers the question of, ‘does Veidt’s plan work?” The answer is, yes it does, but that was never meant to last. The world has learned the truth about the events of Watchmen, and between public riots and growing mistrust between nations, the world is at the brink of the very holocaust Veidt attempted to avoid.
The first issue proves to be a worthy successor to Moore’s seminal classic, with the craft on display being of the highest order. Johns and Frank stay true to the source material, echoing the original’s panel layout, colour pallet and backmatter material.
Johns proves to be an incredibly versatile writer, taking a new approach to storytelling that echoes the meticulous nature of Watchmen, but still in keeping to his traditional approach to storytelling.
I also appreciate how the duo try and keep the comic as rough as possible, not sanitizing the world of Watchmen, yet keeping this comic within the conventions of your average superhero book. You can’t say ‘fuck’, but they make do with quite a few ‘shits’.
Gary Frank proved to be the best choice to draw this comic. First of all, he has an established dynamic with Johns that has produced some of the finest superman stories of the last decade. He detailed storytelling bring the grit and realism inherent to Gibbon’s work on the title, and his character work is well below par, as per usual.
Frank is gifted when it comes to facial expressions, bringing very illustration to life. Frank is the perfect choice for this comic, as he has proved to depict the grounded world of Watchmen and the fantastical elements of the DC Universe.
The use of the nine panel grid was announced early on as details came out to the press, but Johns uses it to interesting effect. The rigid nine panel grid is used for the majority of the issue
The comic’s slow start establishes some new additions to the Watchmen world, and the status quo changes in the last seven years.
It brings in several twists that add new layers to the story, and sets out at least half of the series’ driving conflict.
The new Rorschach’s identity is sure to be a mystery that will be delved into, and keeps the iconic presence in the story without undoing Watchmen’s ending.
The series stays true to Watchmen, but brings enough new concepts to the table that it feels like a worthy sequel.
Doctor Manhattan does not appear in this story, but his presence, and lack thereof, serves as a focal point that ties these two very different worlds together. Ozymandias having cancer is a nice callback to Watchmen and some interesting comeuppance, considering how many people he gave cancer to in the original series. Veidt’s character is true to the source material, as he’s still trying his best to save a world that doesn’t really want it, now more than ever.
Not much time is spent in the DC Universe, but the last four pages show how much Manhattan has affected the DC Universe, and sets up the very high stakes yet personal approach to what may be a classic in the making.
This first issue is largely set up, and doesn’t quite get into the meat of the story, as per the slow paced twelve issue approach. There is a lot of potential in this first issue, so we must wait to see if Johns and Frank can carry this series to it’s finish.
Mathew’s Rating – 8/10
Doomsday Clock #1 is in stores and online for purchase everywhere now!