Doomsday Clock #10 – Review and… sigh

I’ve been reading Doomsday Clock primarily because I feel like I have to, for this web site. With Before Watchmen, I felt like it was an unnecessary cash grab from DC Comics. There were some fine creators that tried to the best that they can with it. However, I’m unclear on the reasons for Doomsday Clock except to fix problems from DC’s biggest marketing scheme of the past decade, the New 52. Watchmen is being rolled into it for some indiscernible reason. 

Of course, incorporating Watchmen, especially Dr. Manhattan reinforces into the minds or readers, especially newer readers, that DC Comics owns Watchmen. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons don’t own Watchmen. Of course, that’s an indisputable fact.

Doomsday Clock #10

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh

$4.99

Solicitation:

This stunning issue of the critically acclaimed hit maxiseries reveals the secrets behind Dr. Manhattan and his connection to the DC Universe.

Review:

This is by far, the weakest issue yet of Doomsday Clock, probably because it gets far away from focusing on human characters. The saddest part of Doomsday Clock is that for all of my trying, I can’t recall what has happened to any character. I imagine in a few days, weeks at most, I’ll forget what happened here, despite it being an issue where a lot gets explained.

Dr. Manhattan arrived in the DC Universe in 1938 and had problems with his omniscience. In order to regain it, he had to ground himself to Carver Coleman, an actor that is down on his luck. With a little help from Dr. Manhattan, he becomes an academy award-winning actor, known for his role as Nathaniel Dusk. It’s unclear if Dr. Manhattan did anything to actually help Coleman, outside of letting him know what was going to happen to him. Coleman is eventually murdered by his mother, over the issue of blackmailing him about being gay. 

Along the way, Dr. Manhattan starts to see Superman’s history being changed by outside players. Originally, the JSA is waiting for Superman to arrive. History changes and they aren’t. Dr. Manhattan messes with the timeline by removing Alan Scott and the JSA never exists, and somehow, the Legion of Super-Heroes, too. Let’s not get into the faulty logic of this rationale. The only aspect that I liked is the Legion helped to ground Superman to humanity. However, it still falls that Dr. Manhattan realizes all of this and still is waiting for the clash with Superman that clouds his vision of the future.

Before I get to the real problem with this premise, let me address Gary Frank’s art. I really like it. If there is one of today’s artists that can draw a sequel to Watchmen, it’s Gary Frank. His attention to detail works well with the nine panel grid that was popularized with Watchmen. I don’t think it works to draw the Golden Age and the 30th century in the same style. He does make the new 52 costume look completely different and almost out of place when compared to any other version of his costume. If there is a redeeming quality to this comic, it is Gary Frank’s art.

Now for the main problem I have in the explanation for all of this. The manipulation underscores the importance of Superman, but the purported purpose of this series is to re-introduce the Justice Society and the Legion of Super-Heroes. If this is the reason, why bring in the Watchmen? If I think about it, the only reason is that DC Editorial doesn’t think that either of those teams can support a major event maxi-series. By attaching Watchmen to it, they get eyeballs to see it. They also get the discussion to start in fandom about doing a Watchmen sequel without the participation of Alan Moore, which would never happen.

The thing is that DC using Watchmen to relaunch the Justice Society and Legion isn’t just a slap against Alan Moore. It’s a message, probably unintentional, to all creators that they do not own their work, possibly even if they have an agreement. It also says that grudges can get held and used in making publishing decisions.

I don’t think that Geoff Johns has a beef with Alan Moore. I think that the obvious villain for this story is one Geoff Johns has already used. Dr. Manhattan’s role in this story is less in line with his portrayal in Watchmen and more of a role suited to the Time Trapper. Like I said, Johns has used the Time Trapper in Legion of 3 Worlds. Of course, Johns could prove he has the chops to be compared with Alan Moore and create a new character to avoid using the Time Trapper again. 

Nevertheless, in using Dr. Manhattan, Johns has worked himself into a position of having a character act in a way inconsistent to the way he has been written. He also tries to craft a story on par with one of, if not the best comics of all time. Unfortunately, it strikes of a hollow effort with no real attachment that I can find as a reader.

Final rating: 5.0 (out of 10)