In Review: Doomsday Clock #3

The heroes are fantastic, but the villains are meh in this continuing slow burn of a story.

The covers: A pair to track down if one is a completist. The Regular cover shows a blown up image of the first panel of this issue: a bottle of Victory Gin from the Veidt Distillery, established in 1984, smashing against a wall. A nice visual image by Gary Frank and colorist Brad Anderson. Not exciting, but a good lead in, and enough to create a mild chuckle if one gets the Orwell reference. The one to own is the Variant cover by the same team that was used to advertise this series: Batman in the Batcave reading Rorschach’s journal. He’s doing so by candlelight, which is odd, given that Batman is notorious for all his Bat-technology. Perhaps it’s a Bat-candle? There is also a steaming cup of joe on the table, showing readers he plans on taking a long time pouring through the book. Still, there’s no denying that this Batman looks awesome. Overall grade: Regular B and Variant A 

The story: The Comedian is beaten by Adrian Veidt, Ozymandias, in one of the iconic scenes from the Watchmen series. As the Comedian is hurled out of the window of his high rise apartment, the images fracture and go black, with only the iconic smiley face button floating in a sea of ebony. On Page 3 the ocean outside Gotham City is shown as the Comedian falls in and then swims to the surface to inhale precious air. He staggers to the beach after seeing the city. Trying to rise from the sand, he hears a familiar voice say, “Hello, Blake.” Able to raise himself a little, the Comedian chokes out, “Doc?” as two bright legs appear behind him. This stellar opening from Geoff Johns then moves to a different time when the opening pair sparred, but it was the Comedian who was victorious…Time is being changed. The story then moves back and forth between three plots: Batman and Rorschach meeting, the Mime and Marionette acclimating themselves to Gotham, and an elderly man in a home watching an old movie. Watching the two vigilantes interact is the highlight of the book. Heck, even Rorschach speaking with Alfred is entertaining. Pages 12, 13, 17, 23, and 24 do focus on another pair of characters, a familiar name from the Golden Age of DC Comics, with another being shown as a movie on television. The crime fighter on the tube is none other than Nathaniel Dusk and it’s awesome. I’m hyped to see a new mini-series on this character from cinema. The Golden Age character teases much, with, again, nothing truly revealed. The Mime and Marionette sadly add nothing to this issue. If one has read any DC Comics for any length of time, they’re two costumed thugs causing mayhem — albeit, graphic mayhem, but they’ve already grown tiresome as characters. Who this two are searching for should take them out quickly once found. I can’t be rid of the silent character soon enough. Thankfully, this pair is only on six pages, so they appear, show their capabilities, and the more interesting story can resume. I’m loving the familiar heroes, but I’m already over the new villains. Overall grade: B

The art: Gary Frank is doing a beautiful job on this book. He is crafting a similar look to Dave Gibbons on this series’ source material, but he’s making it his own. The bottom three panels of Page 4 were the first images to really impress, as the Comedian rises with a former ally just behind him and just out of a clear view. The slow pull in to the fight atop 5 is cinematic. The smile on Blake in the second panel on 6 is flat out gorgeous. He looks incredible. Every smile that crosses his face gives me goosebumps of joy and terror. It was nice to see Veidt look as he did on 9 because he never looked like that in Watchmen. There’s a slow reveal on 18 that’s incredible to see, with the colors adding some punch to the visuals. I loved every part of the Nathaniel Dusk movie that’s shown. The Mime and Marionette’s scenes are drawn well, it’s just that they do everything one expects of them. Even the action at the bottom of 19 isn’t surprising. The first five panels on 25 are sensational in showing a huge event from a new perspective. The final two pages have a noticeable lack of details in the setting to telegraph to watchful readers where the characters have gone. I can’t overstate it: Gary Frank is doing a beautiful job on this book. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Putting the right emotional punch into each panel is the coloring work by Brad Anderson. The opening pages killing of the Comedian is a shock in roses before morphing into ebony. Notice how Anderson lightens the reds into oranges on Page 2 and continues them into the top panel on 3 to provide a smooth transition. The blue feet in the final panel on Page 4 undeniably belong to Doctor Manhattan; I’d know that color anywhere! Ozymandias is primarily in the dark on 5 – 8, giving him a less powerful tone as he battles the Comedian, who’s much brighter, even in the dark setting. Rorschach’s jacket is glorious in all its colors, looking fantastically real. The colors that begin to fall on 16 are a terrific shock. The transition from black and white on 17 to the crimsons that end the page are delightfully jarring. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Rob Leigh creates the grunts, groans, the story’s title, yells, Rorschach’s unique speech, televised dialogue, and the book’s closing quote. All are easy to read, with Rorschach’s speech being the most visually pleasing of the issue. Overall grade: A

Screenland Secrets: This comprises the closing four pages of the book. This tabloid from 1954 focuses on the death of Carver Colman who played Nathaniel Dusk in the popular cinematic series. The gory and surprising details of this demise are dealt with in the most sensational way for readers, with certain aspects of his life sounding very similar to George Reeves and a Watchmen character. Big thumbs up for the stated director of Lovers Die at Dusk. Overall grade: A

The final line: The heroes are fantastic, but the villains are meh in this continuing slow burn of a story. This is readable, but is definitely taking its time in delivering revelations, focusing instead on having the characters grow, with Rorschach being the focus in this issue. The visuals are flawless; every panel is beautiful. Enjoyable. 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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