In Review: Doomsday Clock #2

The story improves once the Watchmen characters enter the Rebirth Universe.

The covers: A pair of covers to search for in this second installment. The Regular cover features a close up of the box that contained the outfits of the Mime and the Marionette. This is the image that starts this issue off and works well as an introduction. The Variant cover is the one to seek out. Lex Luthor sits in his office in the dark, holding his hands before him in contemplation. Before him is the Comedian’s bloody smiley face button. A hand is on his shoulder and by the golden bracelet one can tell that it is Ozymandias who is with him. The great look on Luthor’s face and the sly Watchmen elements makes this the cover to seek out. Both covers were created by Gary Frank and Brad Anderson. Overall grades: Regular B and Variant A+

The story: The first nine pages of this story, written by Geoff Johns, showcase the Mime and the Marionette in action. The characters’ actions are much better than what their names would suggest. How the pair attack others is interesting, with the Marionette seemingly the better fighter than the Mime, who ultimately relies on brute strength when he fights. I sure hope that the Marionette does not become another Harley Quinn, because she is painfully close to that character in her look and actions. The pair are captured by a familiar face and taken to jail rather than killed. Why they are not killed was revealed last issue and is made abundantly clear if one can’t remember. This pair, along with Rorschach and Ozymandias make their escape from their doomed world to travel into the DC Universe. Once in the Rebirth Universe the story improves considerably as Ozymandias devises a scheme to speak with the two most intelligent men in the world. Lex Luthor is visited by Ozymandias, while Rorschach goes to see the other character. The interactions between the characters is the selling point of this story, but it’s so drawn out as to be painful. Johns is doing all that he can to mimic the pacing of Alan Moore’s writing, and is very successful at doing so, but I’d rather he follow his own natural voice than imitate another’s; after all, been there done that. Rorschach’s prey is much more interesting than the Luthor scenes, with the fourth and fifth panels on the final page being the best of the issue. That said, a surprising appearance at the close of the Ozymandias-Luthor scene ups the tension considerably. The big reveal in the text pieces that follow this story was that the Dominator Invasion is part of the Rebirth Universe’s continuity; I loved that series and am glad to see that it still counts. This issue was enjoyable, but standing too heavily on Moore’s work. Overall grade: B-

The art: As with the story, the visuals of this book mimic those of the Watchmen series, with many pages containing nine panels. This forces artist Gary Frank to be very specific with his visuals and he succeeds, just as Dave Gibbons did with the original series. The juxtaposition of images and story lines works well, such as at the beginning of the issue as the Mime and Marionette change into their clothes and tell the tale that got them arrested. This also allows Frank to have quite a bit of motion with his characters, such as with the breaking glass on Page 5 or Marionette’s glee at the bottom of 6. The arrival of the familiar character on 8 is fantastic, as is the slight emotion shown with a head movement on 9. The entrance on 16 is cinematic gold and everything on that page is amazing. How Rorschach finds an entrance on 22 is very clear to the reader and is quite a feat for Frank, considering there is no text whatsoever on the page. The first four panels on 27 masterfully show how both characters are in similar situations, but are unaware of being so. The first panel on 28 actually got a shout of joy from me since it was a completely unexpected appearance. And closing out the issue, the fourth and fifth panels portend great things in a month. The visuals on this book are excellent. Overall grade: A

The colors: The work by Brad Anderson in this issue nicely pulls the eye to specific elements in a panel. This occurs first in the third panel on Page 1. The item that the Marionette notices has a color that makes it stand out in Nite Owl’s subterranean headquarters. The opening five pages also has Anderson creating reflections of light extremely well, such as in a character’s glasses or at the top of 5. The arrival of a character on 8 uses one color exceptionally well and is continued to Page 9. Colors are essential to telling part of the story on 22, with them providing a clue for a character. Much of this book is set at night, allowing Anderson to muffle certain characters’ bright costumes and flesh tones, making the reality of this story stronger. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dialogue and television transmissions (the same font), Rorschach’s unique speech, the story’s title, Rorschach’s journal, and the quote that ends this issue are created by Rob Leigh. Considering the small confines of some panels, especially those when there are nine on a page, it’s a well done job by Leigh to get it to fit in such a tiny space without stepping on key elements of the visuals. Rorschach’s dialogue and journal are the same as they were in the original Watchmen series and are glorious to see again. Some sounds would have been nice, especially for the penultimate page, as I thought I was looking at a laser blast, but they weren’t in the original series, so, you know…Overall grade: A-

The final line: The story improves once the Watchmen characters enter the Rebirth Universe, but it does seem as if some elements could have been shortened or omitted. The visuals, however, are exceptional, even if they are aping the style of Watchmen. I would love for this series to strike out new storytelling rather than mirror Moore’s series so much. Readable, but slow going. Overall grade: A-

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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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