Everyone’s aware of Dave Gibbons and Alan moore’s 1980s masterpiece Watchmen. A deconstruction of superheroes, Watchmen was a gloomy examination of the cost of being a hero in a world that was inching ever closer to nuclear annihilation. It was groundbreaking stuff, setting the scene for a gritty new era in DC Comics.
And yet for all of its nihilistic themes, Watchmen ended with hope. Hope that a better future would rise one day, as the truth of Adrian “Ozymandias” Veidt’s attempts to force a peaceful coexistence between the people of Earth by uniting them against a new menace, would be revealed by the deceased Rorscharch.
That peace did come. It just didn’t last very long at all. Spoilers below.
Doomsday Clock, by writer Geoff Johns and the art team of Gary Frank and Brad Anderson, kicks off with the end of the world now closer than ever before. Seven years have passed, nuclear nations are busy posturing and Ozymandias has become the most wanted man on Earth. With armageddon now a likely scenario, most of the planet has gone completely mental and chaos has erupted on the streets.
It’s the nihilism of Watchmen turned up to 11, a prophetic reminder of the words of the only super-powered individual in the existence of that reality, whose all-encompassing vision of the future warned the heroes that peace and conflict were cyclical siblings. With the stage set and the planet drenched in despair, enter Rorschach.
Fans had already been prepared for the return of the infamous vigilante, whose death might not have been so permanent after all. Where Doomsday Clock really surprises, however, is that underneath that mask is a different person. The original Rorscharch may be dead, but his legacy lives on. Just as brutal as the original, this Rorscharch still manages to distinguish himself by being more flexible.
Able to compromise and see the shades of grey, the new Rorscharch doesn’t see the world purely in black and white. Convenient, given that his mission to recruit two supervillains was sponsored by none other than Ozymandias himself. Stepping out of the shadows to watch his kingdom crumble, Ozymandias has seen better days.
The smartest man on Earth doesn’t have long to live, his time on Earth drawing to a close thanks to an undefined Cancer. So what does a man who stalled the apocalypse do with his precious time left to him? Search for god, as only Doctor Manhattan is capable of saving the planet according to Veidt. Meanwhile, the link between DC and the Watchmen continues to strengthen, as signs of Manhattan’s meddling point to the omnipowerful being still having a hand to play in the life of Superman.
Rousing the Man of Steel with a nightmare, as the groundwork from recent events that saw Manhattan’s influence in the origins of Batman and Superman, is further seen here. It’s an interesting first issue, one that treads a fine line between respect for older source material and the future ahead, is laid out.
Gary Frank’s amazing art captures not only the traditional 9-panel layout of Watchmen, but it also effortlessly explodes into larger scenes while easily focusing on the more dismal street-level antics of the Watchmen universe. Honestly, the art alone is worth the price of admission. A lot has been said over the years of DC and their ownership of Watchmen when Moore and Gibbons created the characters in a work-for-hire scenario.
The fact of the matter is, is that DC knows what it’s doing with these characters. If Before Watchmen was a solid indicator of the respect for these characters, then Doomsday Clock may be the perfect starting point to provide an even better use of characters who contrast perfectly with the more optimistic tone that DC Comics has begun pursuing as of late.
Last Updated: November 27, 2017