Doomsday Clock #5 – Geoff Johns, Writer; Gary Frank, Artist; Brad Anderson, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Corrina: Slooow Pace
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: As we approach the halfway mark with Doomsday Clock #5, one of the most surprising things about this event is just how slowly it moves. The core character behind everything that’s happened, Doctor Manhattan, has yet to make an appearance and most of the key players are still sequestered in their own dramas and trials. That would be a problem if all these individual subplots weren’t so compelling.
Geoff Johns and Gary Frank are one of the all-time great modern creative teams, and their transition to a darker style continues to work very well. When we last left off in the main story (before Rorschach’s solo story last issue), Ozymandias’ attempt to approach Lex Luthor had left him in the hospital under arrest, and it’s now clear that any sort of unauthorized costumed activity is a federal crime. Ozymandias being Ozymandias, of course, he’s able to get out of custody fairly quickly and find his cat, before returning to his base – where he’s found Batman, who’s quickly figured out that what Rorschach was talking about may not have been all that crazy. Rorschach, meanwhile, has teamed up with “Jane Doe” or Saturn girl to escape from the Asylum, and their paths are about to cross with another major player.
This is the issue where the plot really starts moving on the question of what’s happened to the JSA, as we see the elderly Johnny Thunder escape from his old age home and head out into the unforgiving streets in search of his friend Alan’s lantern. Johns and Frank treat the darkness in this series as a sort of corruption, leaking into the optimistic DCU, and it shows in both the art style and the characters’ actions. The world’s status quo becomes a bit clearer, finally, as the background of the Superman Theory is explained, we see the start of a metahuman arms race, and Black Adam enters the picture in a big way as a wild card. Mime and Marionette don’t get much to do this issue, as they finally attract Joker’s attention, but that’s because next issue is their spotlight just like #4 was for Rorschach. There’s a lot going on here, but none of it is as compelling as the meeting/showdown between Ozymandias and Batman. While Luthor had no interest in hearing out a potential rival, Batman is a detective at his core, and he can’t turn away – an action with terrible consequences for him by the end of the issue.
Brilliantly written, beautifully drawn, and almost unflinchingly bleak, this isn’t a book for everyone. For me, however, it’s one of the most fascinating DC comics I’ve read in a while.
Corrina: Hey, Ray, you set up a perfect softball, with “how slow the pace is…” because while you don’t find it a problem, I’m falling asleep over here.
I suppose it helps if you’re invested as to what happens to these Watchmen characters but since I’m not, it’s all a snooze. Do I care that Ozy finds his cat? Why would I? When has Ozy ever cared about anything? Mostly, I’m supposed to care about Ozy trying to fix the mistake he made with his own world but the ENTIRE POINT of his character was that he was too arrogant to see how wrong he was. That’s the end of his character arc, part of the theme of the entire Watchmen story and it’s a serious misreading of that tale to want to give Ozy a redemption arc. Or, at least, want me to care at all about his redemption arc.
And, hey, I know wild pairings are all the rage now (See Justice League: No Justice) but Saturn Girl and the new Rorschach? I…still… don’t care. At all.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.
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