MUST READ: Doomsday Clock #7

Hey Everybody,

Paul here…

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Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen is widely considered to be one of, if not the best comic book ever written. I remember the magic of getting into to comic for the first time and being blown away by the classics of the medium: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, and of course Watchmen. Watchmen still holds up as a brilliant, powerful masterpiece of storytelling. I don’t think Watchmen’s impact on the comic book medium can be understated.

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However, as comic books have become more and more mainstream, Watchmen itself has become more mainstream. 20 years ago meeting someone else who read Watchmen was special because it was rare. If you read Watchmen, you knew something amazing that everyone else didn’t. As superhero stories and comic books became a part of pop culture in a major way, so did Watchmen. More people started to read the original graphic novel. We got Zack Snyder’s Watchmen film (an under appreciated gem, in my opinion), DC published Before Watchmen (Many of those miniseries’ were excellent), and like anything else, the more there is, the less special it becomes.

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I still love the original Watchmen comic book. I’m making this point because Watchmen isn’t the sacred cow to me that it may be to some people. Which is why I’ve been on board with almost everything DC has chosen to do with the Watchmen Universe in the wake of DC REBIRTH. However, I’m mainly here to tell you that Geoff John’s and Gary Frank’s Doomsday Clock is one of the best goddamn comic books on the shelves right now.

I will be discussing SPOILERS here, so fair warning if you want to remain SPOILERFREE

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A few weeks ago, Issue #7 of the 12 Issue miniseries went on sale and as the story hit it’s half way mark, it really kicked into a new gear. I wanted to wait awhile for people to read the latest issue before I commented on it. This is arguably the most significant series DC has published since the creation of THE NEW 52 in terms of its impact on the DC Universe.
For the most part I’m not going to recap the previous 6 Issues and instead focus mainly on Issue #7. First if all, hats off to the amazing art by Gary Frank. Frank’s been one of the best artists in the business for years, but he’s doing career best stuff here. He perfectly captures the “feel’ of the original Watchmen with copying the work of Dave Gibbons. I don’t think there’s another artist working in mainstream comics that can do what he’s doing here. He’s walking a fine line between being his own artist while making this series feel very much like a follow up to Watchmen.

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The entire series, if not everything since DC REBIRTH, has been building to Doctor Manhattan’s full appearance. We finally get it here and it is suitably epic. You could definitely say this is the chapter of the story where the shit begins to hit the fan. Ozymadias, the new Rorschach, Marionette, Mime, The Comedian, Batman, and The Joker finally come face to face with Doctor Manhattan and the whole issue is pretty fucking awesome.For the most part, Johns makes the insanity of all these unique characters coming together wildly entertaining, but I’ll come back to that in a minute.
Before I get too ahead of myself, the book opens with a fantastic scene that involves Doctor Manhattan and old school Green Lantern Alan Scott, that’s pretty damn chilling. It not only gives insight into how Manhattan perceive reality, but it also lets us see Jon ( Doctor Manhattan’s real name) as a more sinister character than he was in the original Watchmen. It gives the reader a sense of ominous dread that sets the tone for the story to come.

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Johns is one of the best writers of DC Comics characters of all time. He’s so often able to take characters that aren’t that compelling and turn them into some of the best characters in comics. He did it will Green Lantern, The Flash, The JSA, Hawkman, Aquaman, and more. One of the reasons this issue is so impressive, is that Johns beautifully captures the “voice” of each of the Watchmen characters, which is why the comic works so well. However, for some reason the character he can’t quite get right is Batman.

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Geoff Johns has an almost supernatural ability to get inside the heads of DC characters, with sole exception of Batman. Batman should always be the smartest guy in the room, but under Johns’ writing he comes across as being 2 steps behind. That is NOT Batman.

I will concede that Johns may be improving when it comes to writing Batman. There’s a moment in this chapter when Doctor Manhattan finally shows up, in the flesh, for the first time. A moment that has been building since DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH. As the closets thing to God himself that Bruce has ever seen teleports into a room full of killers, mad men, and geniuses, Batman immediately glares right into Doctor Manhattan’s eyes and says “I know how you are”. A very cool, very Batman moment.

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Each of these characters get some great moments together, but I wish there was a more substantial confrontation between Batman and Doctor Manhattan. I don’t mean physical, obviously, but I would have liked to see them interact more. We’ve still have a fair amount of issues left before the series wraps up, so I’ll probably get to see something like that sooner or later.
Without getting into too much detail, we finally find out why Doctor Manhattan came to the DCU. It’s a great scene where we’re given some answers, but even more questions.The scene also underscores the slightly darker character Doctor Manhattan has become. One thing he makes very clear to Adrian Veidt is that he has no intention of going back to the Watchmen Universe. He believes that world’s time is over. It beyond saving and not worth his attention. Needless to say Veidt is not happy. The scene ends with some shocking revelations about Veidt that fundamentally change his relationship with Reggie, the new Rorschach.

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This is perhaps an Adrian Veidt more dangerous than we’ve ever seen. He’s just as ruthless and cunning as he’s always been. This issue shows us that the man who killed millions in service of “the greater good”may not have learned from his mistakes after all. He’s the same manipulative sociopath he’s always been and he’s got a plan. By the end of the Issue it seems like Ozymandias has gone “full villain”.
Finally, the most unsettling revelation is that in one month, Doctor Manhattan will have a fateful encounter with an enraged Superman. We know Doctor Manhattan doesn’t perceive time in the way everyone else does. He sees the past, present, and future all at once. So, what makes this information so disturbing is that Jon cannot see the future beyond the point of his confrontation with Superman.Which means one of two things, either Superman will destroy Doctor Manhattan or Doctor Manhattan will destroy everything. Considering that we’ve seen very little of the Man of Steel in this series so far, it seems like that’s about to change in a big way. It’s hard to see a scenario where Superman comes out on top in a fight with Doctor Manhattan, so I’m anxiously awaiting their meeting. After all, Doctor Manhattan has screwed with Clark’s life in significant ways recently. Most notably “resurrecting” Jor-El, who’s been running around the DCU causing trouble as Mr. Oz.

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Though the shipping schedule has been somewhat frustrating, the series began in November 2017 and Issue 8 is slated for release in mid-November, at least it’s picking up slightly. Regardless of these minor flaws, Doomsday Clock has been a fantastic series that has vastly surpassed my expectations. What could have easily been a cash grab by DC has become a truly worthy follow up to Watchmen.
If you were skeptical about what is essentially a sequel to Watchmen, rest assured that these characters are in good hands. I can’t recommend this series enough. It’s a must read.

Doomsday Clock: 9/10

Thanks for reading!

-Paul

Comic Book Review: Doomsday Clock #4 (No Spoilers)

 

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Since the “Death of Superman” in the 90’s, death being a revolving door has been somewhat of joke in the comic world. Unfortunately, frequent deaths and resurrections can often hurt the Superhero genre. Mainly because it pushes people away. To some readers it takes the sense of urgency from the story, they don’t feel any substance in a story they read because this is used so often it’s a trope of the genre. Once I realized how many Watchmen characters would actually be used in Doomsday Clock, I expected immediate negative backlash from the fan community. ESPECIALLY when The Comedian turned up alive. To be honest I wasn’t exactly thrilled by his return. This entire story needs to be handled very delicately to work. The Watchmen characters we saw before The Comedian showed up were used really well, but I felt like The Comedian might have been a bridge too far. Geoff Johns and Gary Frank better have a very important reason for bringing him into the story or else it will feel like bad fan service (I have faith that a good explanation will be given, especially because everything else in this miniseries has been excellent so far).

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Having said all that, none of it really has much to do with THIS issue. I haven’t reviewed Doomsday Clock in awhile and since then I’ve noticed that some fans are unhappy with the return of certain characters. But lets focus on Doomsday Clock #4.

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This is the most character driven issue of the series so far and it almost exclusively focuses on one main character: “New Rorschach”. I put the name “Rorschach” in quotes because we already know that this isn’t Walter Kovacs, Original Recipe Rorschach. This is Reggie, the young man how took on the mantle of the legendary crime fighter/ infamous lunatic vigilante.

For readers looking for a story that pushes the narrative further in a significant way, you may be disappointed. Otherwise this is an excellent character study of this new Rorschach. We not only get to see how he became the next Rorschach, we also find out exactly who Reggie is and where he fits in the Watchmen story (which I won’t spoil here). All I’ll say is that this person wasn’t even on my list of suspects.

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Up until this issue, I was pretty sure that Reggie was an original character because, after going back to the Watchmen graphic novel there really wasn’t anyone who fit what we know about him (which is pretty much just; that he’s a relatively young man, African American, and more than a little bit of a psychopath.). But after reading the issue, I tip my hat to Johns and Frank because they have delivered an excellent vigilante origin story. They did a great job of creating Reggie’s backstory. My one criticism is that even though the creators found a very clever way of showing us how Reggie acquired his fighting skills, it doesn’t seem like enough to make into a fighter that would make even Veidt uneasy. But maybe there’s more to the puzzle coming up.

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This was the perfect point to tell us Reggie’s backstory and what drives him. Because among the cast of new characters, we know a relatively significant amount about The Marionette and The Mime and what makes them tick (even though there are still some huge questions surrounding these two). Four issues into a 12 issue series, we need to understand the goals and motivations of all the main characters for the story to work. We also get a great appearance of a relatively obscure Watchmen character that’s both sweet and heartbreaking.

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Though other issues of Doomsday Clock have wowed me in a ways that this chapter didn’t, it is nonetheless a beautiful character tale that’s tragic, sad, and illuminating. If you don’t mind one or two comic book tropes, I highly recommend Doomsday Clock as a series. This issue was definitely weaker than others, but it was still great. I can’t wait to see what Geoff Johns and Gary Frank have in store for the next 8 issues.

Doomsday Clock #4:  8.5/10

Review by Paul J. Wright

 

ALL NEW PODCAST!!! Paul’s Pulls!

 

Hey everybody,

It’s Paul and I’m very excited to announce my brand new Podcast… PAUL’S PULLS! As you all know I LOOOOOOOVE comic books and superheroes, so this podcast is all comics all the time. It’s a shorter show than “The World’s Best Podcast with Paul & Tim”, but it’s perfect for the format. Each episode I’ll be recommending the best comics of the week and talk about comic book or comic book movie, Comic book TV, COMIC BOOK ANYTHING news! I really hope you’ll enjoy it. In the first episode I give an annotated breakdown of the awesome new DC series Doomsday Clock. Then I wrap thing up talking about the very cool new superhero show Black Lightning. The podcast will be available on iTunes soon but for now you can listen to it right here:

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/13889474

As always, thanks for listening!

-Paul

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MUST READ: Doomsday Clock #1 Review (SPOILERS)

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Back in 2011 DC Comics made a bold decision. They would reboot the ENTIRE DC Universe, the entire line of comics would start from scratch. All new #1s, new creative teams. Much like Marvel’s successful “Ultimate” re-launch of their characters in 2000. This relaunch of DC’S Comics was called The New 52.

The story telling mechanism they used to reboot their universe was a mini-series event comic called Flashpoint. If Flashpoint sounds familiar it’s because it’s been often used when talking about the cinematic DCU. The idea is if things get bad enough and their movies continue to be failures, they’ll make a Flashpoint film and completely start over the DC movies from scratch. The Flash TV series did a VERY different version of Flashpoint on their show.

So the basic set up for Flashpoint Barry wakes up one morning to find himself in a world vastly different from his own. He’s not The Flash, so no powers, there’s no Superman, no Justice League, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are about to start WWIII, etc. But he’s still a CSI and most importantly for him his mother, who’d been murdered when he was a child is now alive and well. I wont go into details because Flashpoint is a good read, but it’s an even better animated movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. It’s one of the best animated films DC has put out. So Barry gets his powers back and with Batman’s help fixes the timeline. But when changes that massive have been made to the timeline, things aren’t EXACTLY the same. There were a lot of little and HUGE differences from the classic DC Comics people had been following. So, Flashpoint was basically the “IN STORY” explanation for the NEW 52. Almost none of the characters remember the world as it was before Flashpoint.

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For the life of me I absolutely cannot understand why some people hated the NEW 52. I don’t interact with a lot of other comic book fans on forums or Reddit, which is where I think much of the NEW 52 hate came from. Sure, not everything worked and some beloved characters didn’t immediately make the transition, but lets run through some of the books the DC published at during The New 52:

• Batman
• Swamp Thing
• The Flash
• Animal Man
• Aquaman
• Green Lantern
• Batman and Robin
• Action Comics
• Wonder Woman
• Batman Inc.
• Justice League
• Forever Evil
• Green Arrow

 

That’s just to name a few. With excellent creative teams and excellent storylines.For some reason DC felt that they’d fundamentally lost something along the way. They felt like they lost legacy, a sense of family, a sense of optimism that DC had always been known for. I personally don’t agree, I think the stories where great. But one things that did bug me a little, was that several DC characters didn’t make the transition in the NEW 52 and nothing scares hardcore comic books fans more than change. As a response to what they felt was the negative reception the NEW 52 received. They decided to address the problem with a new intuitive called DC REBIRTH. They didn’t reboot the universe, they just began to take their series in a different direction. They just decided that DC line wide would focus on hope, family, optimism.

DC Comics wanted infuse their books with more of that hope and optimism I mentioned. So, DC released a special called DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH. This special planted the seeds of stories that would affect all of the books DC Comics had published. One of the massive revelations of DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH, was the fact that Barry Allen WAS NOT at fault for the timeline being slightly “off” when he fixed the changes from Flashpoint. Certain classic characters no longer existed, people with powerful relationships in the past weren’t together anymore, key figures like Red Robin had their deaths unwillingly faked only to be held captive in a prison outside of time and space. Basically, for whatever reason, certain people were being take off the board. Barry found out that their was a much more powerful Being out there. Someone or something was altering space and time in the DCU. Someone they’ve never encountered before. At the end of DC REBIRTH, they scene cuts to Mars. It’s revealed that the person that has been manipulating the DCU was the God-like DR. Manhattan Of Watchmen.

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So it seems that characters from Watchmen, at the very least Dr. Manhattan, will be interacting with DC characters. At this point I think it’s important to say that it’s real easy to be cynical about a project like this. But every little piece we’ve been given from REBIRTH leading up to Doomsday Clock has been handled very well. Most of the talk about this project coming from DC wasn’t about a fight of any kind between the DC and Watchmen characters, but an ideological conflict between the cold, clinical view of the world held be Dr Manhattan and the hope and optimism of Clark Kent… Superman.

SPOILERS FROM HERE ON…

 

CONTIUE AT YOUR OWN PERIL IF YOU DONT WANT SPOILERS…

 

LAST CHANCE!….

OK…

 

The thing that surprised me most about this book was how much of it was a Watchmen book. I figured this story would mostly be set in the DCU with Dr. Manhattan visiting that reality and maybe an appearance from one or two other characters. Instead the majority of the story takes place in the world of Watchmen, years after we last saw these characters. It’s a world on the brink of annihilation once again. The first line of dialogue is from our narrator, who tells us it’s “ December 22 1992… or is it the 23rd?” Geoff John has been quick to point out that from the first line of dialogue we’re dealing an unreliable narrative. It’s also been pointed out multiple times in other places that December 22, 1992 is the day that The Death of Superman came out (obviously this date wasn’t chosen by accident). You see “The Great Lie” has bee exposed. Rorschach’s Journal at the end of Watchmen eventually showed the world that Veidt’s attempt to save humanity from nuclear holocaust, was built on an atrocity. Adrian Veidt AKA Ozymandias is now the most wanted man in the world. Then we’re shown a prison full of men begging to be released. The Soviets and the U.S. are minutes away from launching their nukes and beginning nuclear Armageddon.

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The story cut to chaos at a prison, with the inmates screaming to be let free. The news is telling everyone to get to “Safe Zones” , but this seems like bullshit that the government is pushing on people through media and the guards are cutting and running. One of the inmates manages to grab a guard as he runs past his cell and the inmate demands for the guard to unlock the door. Before he can do anything, the guard is knocked out by someone else in the hallway with him. This is the books first huge reveal: the man who knocked out the guard and who’s now stealing the keys to the prison is Rorschach. Suddenly the inmate isn’ t quite so eager to get out of this cell.

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From here on out, I’m going to give you the very broad strokes of the issue. The first six pages of this book were released by DC at NYCC and the Rorschach reveal was one of the last scenes in the promotional material. As I expected as soon Rorschach was revealed, later in the story were shown (without revealing his identity) that this is NOT Walter Kovacs, the original Rorschach. Someone else has taken up his “mantle”. Even if it wasn’t explicitly revealed, if you’re an avid Watchmen fan, you would have been able to tell that this isn’t the Rorschach from Watchmen. There are subtle, but noticeable differences.

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Basically Veidt sent Rorschach to break one very specific criminals out of prison: Erika Manson AKA The Marionette. Manson won’t leave with her husband Marco Maez AKA The Mime. From what we briefly see of The Mime in prison he seems like a very dangerous psychopath. Rorschach reluctantly takes them both and they head to Nite Owl’s old hideout. Once everyone’s gathered Veidt reveals a key piece of personal information and explains his plan. Adrian has a brain tumor that is killing him and as bad as things are on their world, there’s still one man who can fix everything: Dr. Manhattan. No matter where he is Veidt intends to find Dr. Manhattan in an attempt to save his world (if that is indeed his true motive). It’s unclear how he intends to accomplish this and why he needs these SPECIFIC individuals. The last scene is Clark Kent asleep in bed next to Lois. He has a horrific nightmare of his adopted parents dying in a car crash (I’m honestly not sure if this is the current continuity, so this could be a memory or something else entirely). He wakes up startled and Lois asks him if he’s ok. Clark’s not really sure. It was just a nightmare, but as he says to Lois, he’s never had a nightmare before.

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Bottom line, I really liked this story.  I get that to some people Doomsday Clock will always be sacrilege, but if you go in with an open mind you’ll realize this is a great book. If the first chapter is an indicator of what’s to come,. this could potentially be something special. The art by Gary Frank is incredible. I already considered Geoff Johns to be an excellent comic book writer, but it seems like he stepped up his game here. If you didn’t know any better, you’d be forgiven to think that this is Alan Moore is Watchmen.It was a great set up to the miniseries and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. Several interesting details stood out to me. We’ve been shown that Batman was told that somehow it’ s an irrefutable fact that there are “three Jokers“. Both The Marionette and The Mime are clown themed villains. At one point, you see The Mime smiling with blood smeared across his face and mouth, which is very evocative of The Joker. Is this a version of Joker and Harley Quinn?

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Another interesting point was when Rorschach was asked to prove that he is not in fact Walter Kovacs the original Rorschach, he takes off his glove and his skin is brown. We all know the original Rorschach was white. This is a complete wild guess here, but could this be the psychiatrist that Rorschach seemingly warped so deeply in the original miniseries? (However, I’m pretty sure that character died in the original Watchmen, so I don’t now)

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I also found that it spoke volumes that Ozymandias seemed to be genuinely frightened of this new Rorschach. He explains to The Mime and The Marionette that Rorschach is not a man to be pushed. Veidt explains he doesn’t have limits like the original Rorschach did. Which is scary because it didn’t seem like the original Rorschach had many limits beyond his black-and-white code of justice. Especially considering that Adrian so easily physically overpowered Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, and the original Rorschach in Watchmen, this guy must be a pretty big bad ass for Ozymandias to be genuinely afraid of him.

Anyway those are my initial thoughts and impressions. My biggest questions are: How many of the Watchmen characters are we going to ultimately see in this story? How does Adrian intend to actually breach through the multi-verse to find Dr Manhattan ? Why is all this causing nightmares for Superman? and how does the rest of the DCU fit in? I definitely recommend reading it twice. Even though it seems slow at times, there’s a lot more going on than you may think after initially reading it. Personally I can’t wait for #2.

P.S. Below are the covers for some of the upcoming issues!

As always thanks for reading!

-Paul

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