In Review: Doomsday Clock #1

I was expecting more from all the hype with this ending up being just a better than average comic.

The covers: Four covers for this first of twelve issues that is supposed to explain how DC Rebirth occurred. All covers are by Gary Frank and Brad Anderson. The Regular cover features a rioting mob in close-up showing their hatred to an unseen foe above them. One person is lighting a Molotov cocktail, another holds a sign stating THE END IS HERE, while another holds a sign with Ozymandias’ visage with an anti-circle around it. The person just above the center sign looks remarkably like Jackie Earle Haley. The cover is tinted to give it a night time tone, though the center sign is lightened to make it stand out. The title of the book and the numbering goes down the left side, resembling the format of the Watchmen series. The Variant cover has Superman with arms spread floating before the reader. His right leg is dissolving into clockwork parts which are floating off the cover to the left and beginning to drift to the right. Behind him is the partial visage of a gigantic Dr. Manhattan. I like this cover because it features Superman. The Lenticular Variant cover features a bust shot of Rorschach, with his iconic ink blot patterned face morphing into the logos of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman. This is a Lenticular cover and is a terrific idea for a frontpiece. Credit is given to Dave Gibbons for this cover based on existing art by him. This is great. The Variant 11:57 PM Release cover has the same artwork as the B cover, without any of Anderson’s colorful contributions. It’s nice, but I prefer the colored copy. Overall grades: Regular B+, Variant A, Lenticular Variant A+, and Variant 11:57 PM Release B-

The story: This feels exactly like a Watchmen story in tone: realistic doom and gloom with heroes. Picking up seven years after that series, Rorschach’s journal has gone public and the world is thrown into chaos. Everyone wants blood from Ozymandias. Several television screens, visual hallmarks of this hero, are shown displaying the worldwide violence: the Vice President killing the Attorney General, the European Union has collapsed, Russia is threatening to invade Poland, North Korea has stated it can file missiles into Texas, and hundreds of Americans have broken through the wall to flood Mexico. A quick recap of Watchmen’s conclusion is given and then a military force is shown entering an empty complex thought to contain the turncoat hero. On the wall is an X-ray of a man’s skull with a large spot on the forehead. The scene then goes to a prison where Rorschach is trying to free two characters. Who this Rorschach is comes across as completely sensible, who he’s trying to rescue is just okay. The exit from the jail is just okay. Where they’re going is familiar, but who they encounter is a surprise. This character is very different from the one in the parent series, but given the state of the world it’s not too surprising. The goal of this individual is the goal of the group and sets this series in motion. The final four pages of the book turn to Superman and an incident from his past. This memory is interesting character work, but the final page doesn’t have any punch that warrants such a visually dramatic conclusion. This was okay. I’m more interested in the DC characters than the Watchmen characters and that’s where the majority of this thirty page book goes. I’ll follow this series because I want to know how Rebirth happened, but this story by Geoff Johns isn’t grabbing me yet. Overall grade: C

The art: My hat’s off to Gary Frank for this artwork of this book. He’s mirrored the style of Dave Gibbons, but the visuals do look like his own, especially when the scene moves to the jailbreak. The first page has the pullout layout of the first Watchmen issue, with the point of view pulling farther and farther away from the crowd to show its numbers. The nine panel layout is employed often to show the current location contrasted with news stories that are ticking down the end of the world. Once in prison, Frank really shines. The prisoners look terrific and Rorschach’s reveal is a stunner. The individual he’s seeking also has a good introduction, with her face easily communicating to the reader her inner thoughts. The panels where Rorschach has a slight turn of his head is a great way to show his deliberateness. The second person to be taken from the prison is drawn very well, but the way that the character is written, with those attributes, has me disliking time devoted to him. Where the trio head is outstanding, resembling that iconic location and the person that’s waiting for them looks exactly the same. I liked this character’s panel by panel scenes on Page 24, with the smaller individual being fantastic. I really liked this hero’s rage on 25, showing emotions not seen in the original series. The Superman pages are good, with the fifth panel on 27 being fantastic. The memory scenes are excellent, but the last page didn’t seem as though it warranted the response from either character or that dramatic final panel. I like that this book is somewhat similar to Gibbons’s style, but it either needs to go one hundred percent following in his footsteps or go in the layout of a traditional comic. I would rather this book credit its own identity. Overall grade: A-

The colors: The work by Brad Anderson puts some emotional punch into the visuals. The first page captures the heat and the violence of the mob with some striking oranges and reds. The television broadcasts bring a sense of normal colors to the story, but their content contrasts the bright, positive colors. The prison scenes are also orange and red initially, but go appropriately dark when seeking his quarry. Once out of this person’s cell, the colors return to orange and red for the violence being committed. The characters don’t have normal colors until they enter the familiar setting and discover Rorschach’s partner. I love the coloring on this character, which darkens considerably when he’s angered. The Superman pages are dark because they are set in the middle of the night, even the memory is in the dark, however Anderson makes every aspect of the artwork visible. Overall grade: A

The letters: Rob Leigh does a good job in mirroring Dave Gibbons’ fonts from the original series, which includes Rorschach’s journal entries, television transmissions, dialogue, the story’s title, Rorschach’s unique speech, and yells. All look good, but it was Rorschach’s speech that truly solidified I was reading a continuation of Watchmen. Overall grade: A+

The clippings: Four pages follow the story containing the front page of the New York Gazette with the headline THE GREAT LIE. This is followed by two pages of clippings on nuclear disarmament stalling, the strange case of Roger Jackson, an obituary, an add for a specific tool, and the menu to Morning Joe’s. Whether such text pieces will be important to upcoming issues, as they were in the original series, remains to be seen. For now, they’re fun. Overall grade: B

The final line: I was expecting more from all the hype with this ending up being just a better than average comic. There’s too much of the Watchmen for my tastes, but I’m more than eager to continue to see how Rebirth came to be. Overall grade: B

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Doomsday-Clock-2017-1/digital-comic/575022?ref=c2l0ZS9hamF4U2xpZGVyL2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC8yMDg5NQ

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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