In Review: Doomsday Clock #6

How established characters meet should be the focus, not new characters' origins.

The covers: Gary Frank and Brad Anderson have created the Regular and Variant cover for this issue. The Regular features the first panel to this issue’s tale: several marionettes hanging on a wall. The two in the center are Nite Owl and the Marionette. This teases the old and the new of the original Watchmen series. Another call to the past is President Richard Nixon as a marionette in the bottom left. However, take a look at the one in the bottom right: Death. Could this final marionette be a hint of things to come in this issue? Only one way to find out and that’s to buy this! The coloring on this by Anderson has the two famous comic book characters stand out well. The Variant cover features the Owl Ship with Ozymandias piloting it. Before the hovering ship is Rorschach watching the Marionette prance about and the Mime stand cockily as if he were holding pistols in each hand. Behind them is a city with the batsignal in the sky. This is a good cover, though these events do not happen in this book. Overall grades: Regular B+ and Variant A-

The story: This issue written by Geoff Johns begins just as the Regular cover shows, within a marionette shop. As a young girl, before her current criminal state, Marionette hides in an unknown location as two unseen antagonists ask her father, “Which one did he put it in this time?” The old man pleads, “I cannot do this anymore. Not in front of my daughter.” He’s falls to the ground and the little girls eyes, filled with tears, go wide. The scene then moves to the present where Marionette and the Mime have their hands in the air as they are led by the Joker, who has an drugged Batman chained to a wheelchair, through a tunnel. He chastises the pair for killing his men. They encounter three of Mr. Freeze’s men who are given the option of joining the Joker’s crew or dying. A tattoo artist, who shakes, comes forward to mark the men as the Joker’s property. Marionette flashes back to the past, practicing with a marionette, that resembles her future self, in her father’s store. She notices that someone has taken over the store across the street and she sees a sad boy in the window as his parents argue behind him. She does something and the pair become friends, with him becoming the future Mime. This story shows how the Joker introduces Marionette and Mime to the criminal underworld of the DC Universe and uses flashbacks to show the origin of this pair. I’m done with flashbacks of new characters. I have ceased to care. I want to see how the established Watchmen characters integrate with the established DC characters. Now that does occur on Pages 15 – 17, and it is exciting, but it’s only three pages. I was done with the focus on these new villains a few issues ago. Was this readable? Absolutely. However, in the larger scheme of things, this seems as though this could be skipped and one not miss any of the larger picture of these characters colliding. Overall grade: C-

The art: Gary Frank’s art continues to be beautiful. He’s continuing to follow in the standard nine panel format of the original Watchmen series and it is appropriate because the issue focuses on two, and then three, characters from that collapsed universe. The transitions between panels are neat, with young Marionette paralleling grown up Marionette and vice versa. I am really impressed with how well Frank does the young children. Often they can be a bugaboo for artists, but he makes them look great (though there is an ultra small hand on 5). Frank’s Joker looks a lot like Brian Bolland’s version of the character and that’s a definite plus. A classic rogues gallery shows up on Page 10 and they look great; I appreciated how the speaker at this gathering resembled the actor from a 1966 television series. The action on 14 – 17 is much more violent that most DC comics, but the character that instigates this wasn’t a part of the DC Universe. The final panel on 17 is outstanding for the visual and the dialogue. The entrance at the bottom of 25 is excellent as is the reaction that ends the page. This leads to a terrific reveal on 26 and an iconic closing image. Frank’s art is great. I just wish the story had him doing more familiar characters. Overall grade: A-

The colors: The colors throughout by Brad Anderson are as solid as Frank’s artwork. There’s a lot of characters in the shadow in this book, given that the events in the present are set in a subway system and those in the past are in the dark shop of Marionette’s father. When the action gets intense Anderson ups the visual punch by using oranges or reds for backdrop colors. When all the villains appear on 10 that’s when the colors really jump up a notch; the crazy costumes of classic villains finally are allowed to step out of the darkness of this issue. The joker’s outfit contains his typical purple, orange, and green combination, making his stand out whenever he appears. Overall grade: A

The letters: The story’s title, dialogue, screams, laughter, a letter’s contents, and the closing quote are Rob Leigh’s contributions to this issue. Sadly, there are no sounds in this issue, with 14 – 17 deserving of some besides the screams. The letter’s text is nicely done, resembling the penmanship of the character who wrote it. A solid job. Overall grade: A-

Department of Metahuman Affairs file: The final six pages of the book deal with the file on Typhoon, a villain that often fought Firestorm. The contents of this briefing are interesting, especially how these pages close out. It’s a neat little detail on one villain’s path, but as with the story, does this really add anything to overall story or is this just filler? Overall grade: B-

The final line: The story delivers an unnecessary origin for two characters, though a hero finally makes his presence known to the DC villains. We’re halfway through this series and it seems to be progressing at a snail’s pace. The visuals are top notch at least, so this journey is at least one to enjoy looking at. The story needs to pick it up and quit with the origin stories. Overall grade: B

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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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