By Dustin Cabeal
I thought long and hard about this book after reading it. By no means am I one of these comic readers that view Watchmen as some untouchable bible of comic books. I read it. I could see a lot of the brilliance of it, which I mostly credit to the artwork. I’ve never read or cared about the prequel stories nor did I find it particularly interesting that the world of Watchmen was being injected into the DCU. If Watchmen is the DC Comics bible, then Doomsday Clock is the new testament.
Here’s the thing though… I get the logic. Some old testament fans will say it’s just DC screwing over Moore yet again, which isn’t a valid argument anymore considering how different the world and structure of comics has become. From a business standpoint, you have this property that’s bigger than big in comics. Everyone knows about it. If you read comics, it's impossible to escape Watchmen. Eventually, you’ll break down and read it because you’re just so goddamn tired of hearing that you should read it. Everyone fucking knows about Watchmen in the comic world.
And there’s a goddamn movie.
I’m not here to remind you of blue dicks, but simply to point out the fact that there was a decently successful movie based on the comic book which means causal fans, comic book movie fans, know about Watchmen.
If you had this property that everyone knows about, that continues to sell, that spinoffs such as comics, toys, and T-Shirts continue to sell, you’d be an idiot not to go back to it as much as possible. That would be like Marvel shelving Wolverine at the height of his popularity and say, “Nah, he’s done.” My point is, I can understand why when Rebirth rolled around Johns seized the opportunity to inject Watchmen into the normal DCU. To make them a part of the New 52 reboot and the meshing of the old and new that is Rebirth. As much as people complain about DC’s messy continuity, secretly, I think everyone has loved it for as long as it’s been wrecked. That’s the charm, that’s what makes it different from Marvel. It’s perfect in its imperfections.
All that said, I can understand why DC would go back to Watchmen. I’m fairly certain that most people understand it even if they don’t like it. I’m sure there’s plenty of old testament people that find this all to be a bit blasphemous.
Personally, I found it all to be a bit boring.
That’s right. Hopefully, I swerved you with this entire opening. You might have thought some great praise for this work was coming, but it's not. Doomsday Clock has four pages that are interesting, and I’ll go ahead and spoil it by saying that it’s a retcon of Superman’s origin. Why they’re revamping his origin and putting his logo on the clock, I do not know.
All I know is that there’s a new Rorschach, Oz has a tumor, and two villains that are highly annoying are giving a lot of page time. Their goal is to find God, aka, Dr. Manhattan. The use of Manhattan is brilliant. DC can use him to do anything as we see with Clark’s new aspect of his origin. I should clarify that it’s not a complete revamp, but instead a change in his past involving his parents. But the bulk of the story is Johns carefully trying to mime (pun intended) Moore’s style. It’s not that he does a poor job, hell if there’s one guy in all of comics that you want trying to mime another writer, it’s probably Geoff Johns. He’s done it successfully time and time again. The problem is, it’s not the 80s anymore. Comics have evolved. The craft has changed, and so reading something that’s heavy-handed with narration and dialogue is draining. That and none of it was exciting. It wasn’t this amazing “oh my gosh, this is what happened after Watchmen” moment because that would only be exciting if it were the original creators and if it was staying in that world. Even then, I’d probably find that boring as well.
I will quickly call out that having villains and essentially characters that didn't play a role in Watchmen talk about "rumors" of what happened is a cheap story device and really was the worst part of the comic due to just how convenient it was to get the information out. That type of storytelling always bothers me, how the fuck would anyone have heard "rumors" about that? No one there survived to tell anyone nor would they likely want to tell anyone. That bit was bad writing on Johns' part.
Perhaps, the next chapter will be more enticing now that Johns has gotten to play in the Watchmen world some and done what no one would everything possible and continue the story, but lead it right into the DCU. More than likely we’ll just be stuck bouncing back and forth between the two wondering how Dark Days fits into this mess.
There’s just something off about this book though. The art is grand. Gray Frank is delivering his best work of his career. It looks like a Watchmen story, but something is missing. Perhaps it’s the way this is being collaborated. Maybe it’s the fact that instead of making art, they’re homaging it. Whatever it is, it’s a beautiful book to look at, but I can’t shake that weird feeling I get when I look at it and how it felt different when it got to those last four pages. Again, I say this as someone that mostly just enjoyed the art from Watchmen.
It’s not a bad comic; it’s not. You’ll probably hear and read the spectrum on this one of people praising or hating it. I go back to that bible reference that I’ve been milking in this review; you’re either old or new. Myself, I find Doomsday Clock to be rather dull so far. Maybe that’ll change. Maybe they’ll be something later on that will make reading this first issue exciting for different reasons, but for now, all I have is this first issue. All I can review is this first issue, and it’s pretty average and honestly forgettable.
Doomsday Clock #1 (of 12)