Review – Doomsday Clock #3: Revisiting ‘Watchmen’

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Doomsday Clock #3 variant cover
Yes, Batman’s reading *that* journal. image copyright DC Comics

Doomsday Clock #3 – Geoff Johns, Writer; Gary Frank, Artist; Brad Anderson, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 9.5/10

Corrina: So..we’re trying to be Alan Moore now?

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS PLUS SERIOUS DISAGREEMENT BELOW 🙂

Ray: The third issue of DC’s best-selling, controversial stand-alone event comic, Doomsday Clock #3 continues to unravel the long-standing connections between the world of Watchmen and the DCU, in the issue featuring the most action yet. And how could it not feature action when the most brutal Watchmen character of all – the Comedian. The issue opens with the long-dead character’s fall being dramatized in slow-motion, only for him to wake up in a different world, with the blue puppetmaster right behind him but still hidden from us. From there, the standoff between Ozymandias and his most famous victim plays out in dramatic fashion, with Comedian determined to give his killer the same fate, but Ozymandias has many more tricks up his sleeve and pulls off a narrow escape.

As exciting as this segment is, though, I didn’t feel it was the strongest of the stories playing out in this issue. The Mime and the Marionette, untethered temporarily from their keepers, go exploring Gotham and find themselves in a bar full of Joker devotees, which lead to one of the most brutal fight scenes I’ve seen in a Johns comic. But honestly, this scene raises more questions than it answers, as it becomes clear that Mime is much more than some sort of themed criminal – he’s a meta and a very powerful one who likes to use his powers in a uniquely sadistic fashion. These two characters could have easily been stock analogues, but they’re anything but.

And then there’s the story of Rorschach and Batman, which is easily the best subplot we’ve seen in this story so far. These two characters are in some ways very different, and in some ways the same. Rorschach is the madness Batman works very hard to keep at bay because no one in this game could truly be completely sane. We learn a lot more about Rorschach this issue – for one thing, he’s young. Probably mid-twenties, and he was driving home to his parents when Ozymandias’ scheme played out. He was on the outskirts and survived – although his mind was clearly not so lucky. We still don’t know his name, but my guess? Malcolm Long’s unnamed son. The interaction between him and Batman is fascinating, and this is one of those team-ups people only fantasized about for decades. That makes the betrayal that ends this issue, while totally logical, sting more. This is the third excellent issue in a row, and this series is absolutely living up to its promise so far.

Corrina: This series is bringing out all the ways that Ray and I disagree about comics. Whether you love or hate Doomsday Clock #3 entirely depends on whether you think this new version of Watchmen has something to say.

And, over and over, it keeps proving to me that it has nothing new to say, other than “Look we can do what Moore did!” Sometimes, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery.

Take the opening. The story spends a full page reproducing the original Ozymandias/Comedian fight from Watchmen, only to flip with the Comedian being saved. Then we have another showdown, though now the ending is different because, hey, isn’t that cool we can have the Comedian win this once?

A sense of “isn’t it cool we’re playing with the Watchmen toys?” runs through the comic. Thus, Batman gets to read the journals and the new Rorschach gets to be looked up in prison/insane asylum like the original. I suspect next week, we’ll get a reworking of the famous “I’m not locked in here with you, you’re locked in here with me.” (Incidentally, Batman’s actions make perfect sense with someone who presents like this Rorschach.)

Then there’s also the intercutting of a fictional plot, like in the original Watchmen, with the main plot, and that intercutting features one of Johns’ favorite characters, Johnny Thunder.

Can you spot all the DC Easter Eggs in this comic? Clearly, Johns had fun putting them in, hoping readers would have fun looking for them. The problem with that is Easter Eggs do not a plot make and relying on “hey, look what we’re doing with Watchmen!” does not a good story make.

I’ll say it again: I don’t like Watchmen. I recognize its’ influence on comics and the technical panel-by-panel brilliance but it’s not my jam. But it had something to say, a distinctive point of view.

Whereas Doomsday Clock has nothing new to say and its distinctive point of view is, well, borrowed from Alan Moore. I see no point in this book.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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