DOOMSDAY CLOCK #1 Review – All Along the Watchtower
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank
Colors by Brad Anderson
Letters by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
*Spoilers for Watchmen and Doomsday Clock #1*
Guys, guys, guys let’s have a real talk. There is absolutely no way this can live up to Watchmen. There never was. Even though I was never in the camp of “Watchmen is untouchable and anything related to it is automatically trash”, I do recognize its importance to the medium and that, realistically, no comic in 2017 is going to set the world on fire like Watchmen. It just couldn’t. So, I’m going to look at Doomsday Clock without any of that baggage and I’m just going to focus on the essentials: It’s a sequel to Watchmen and it’s the biggest piece in the Rebirth story we’ve had up until now. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s look at the plot.
The world is in disarray, every country is threatening each other with Nuclear Armageddon and we’re about an inch from the end of the world… But enough about what’s going on in the world, let’s talk about Doomsday Clock’s plot. Remember Adrian’s plan? Yeah that fell through. Hard. He’s basically Hitler times Stalin plus (Insert your own topical political joke here). But he has a plan… Cause that’s worked gangbusters for him in the past. It involves finding Dr. Manhattan and, I guess, asking him to fix everything. But he’s not alone, for he has the help of… RORSCHACH?! *dum dum DUUUUUUUUM*. Will Adrian’s plan work? Is the world really going to be destroyed by a nuclear apocalypse? And how will the DC Universe factor into this?
Here’s something I didn’t expect from this book: It’s funny. It’s not a laugh riot or anything, but there are moments of genuine humor. That’s surprising, but it also proves a bigger point about this comic: It’s not a rehash. My biggest fear regarding Doomsday Clock is that it was just going to be a parade of homages and references to the previous work and picking apart insignificant details to try to develop them into the basis for a story (hello, Before Watchmen). Instead, Doomsday Clock skips all of that and says “The world isn’t the same, the characters are recognizable but changed and we’ve added some fresh blood into the mix to keep things interesting”. That’s literally all I could ask from a Watchmen sequel (or most sequels for that matter) so… I really liked this issue. I was captivated, I wanted to see where everything was going and the ending left me wanting for more. Honestly, I’m shocked. I know Geoff Johns is a great writer but I never thought he’d actually write with this much confidence. I jokingly theorized that the reason Johns wasn’t writing any comics was to prepare for this but it might actually be true. Johns could have legitimately been thinking “I’m writing a sequel to Watchmen I have to craft the best work I possibly can and make sure there are no leaks in the boat”. Granted, we haven’t seen the rest of the book so it could very easily fall apart but this first issue was better than I expected. I owe Geoff Johns an apology because I seriously didn’t expect him to just jump right in like this. There are some references to the original but, overall, it feels like a different thing. So, kudos Geoff.
Do I even need to speak about the art? It’s Gary Frank. It’s always an event when he draws. His faces are detailed and different, he can draw a wide range of expressions and he’s even changed his look for Superman so it doesn’t look quite so much like Christopher Reeve (which would have been distracting). It doesn’t look like the original but it shouldn’t. It’s trying to blaze its own path and I applaud it for that. The art is awesome and that is that.
Nothing I say is likely to change your opinion. You are either absolutely going to buy this book or you are absolutely not. Still, I’ll say it looks great, reads great and feels exciting and fresh. It feels like something people actually wanted to do instead of a company mandate. Do you know how great that feels? I recommend the hell out of this book and I’m jumping to get my hands on the second issue.