Review – Doomsday Clock #8: Chaos in Russia

Comic Books DC This Week
Doomsday Clock #8 cover, via DC Comics.

Doomsday Clock #8 – Geoff Johns, Writer; Gary Frank, Artist; Brad Anderson, Colorist


Corrina: Did Ozy Learn Nothing? It’s All Gloom & Doom

Ray – 10/10

Ray: Doomsday Clock has been a slow burn so far, unraveling the mystery of the Watchmen characters’ presence in the DCU and their involvement with the mystery surrounding Superman. The last issue brought that to a close for now with the shocking reveal that Ozymandias had been faking his cancer all along, and now the story shifts to the DC characters. The Watchmen characters don’t appear much in this issue, with only Ozymandias playing a role in the framing segments – but the villain’s stink is all over this story. This is a Superman story at its core, as the Kryptonian hero tries to navigate a near-impossible situation. It’s been a while since he wrote him at length, but Geoff Johns is actually one of the best Superman writers alive, and his two arcs on Action Comics with Gary Frank are arguably the perfect summary of Superman’s power and influence. But this isn’t that story. This is a story of Superman struggling to make peace in a world where everything he and the Justice League has built is falling down. The concept of the Supermen Theory, arguing that all metahumans were created in a US experiment, has launched a global superhero arms race.

Russia is cracking down on metahumans in their borders in a story reminiscent of the X-Men. After a brief scene at the Daily Planet (where Johns writes a pitch-perfect Lois and Perry, and Lois gets involved in a deeper mystery), Superman heads to Russia where an incident involving Firestorm has led to tragic consequences and a possible World War. Johns’ use of Firestorm here is interesting – he’s a young, immature hero whose powers are arguably the most dangerous in the DCU, and the sequence of events that unfolds here is genuinely disturbing – as is Firestorm’s subsequent breakdown. Black Adam, who has created a refuge for metahumans old and new in Khandaq, plays a major role as well. Johns’ Black Adam has always been one of his most underrated characters, and it’s great to see this version of the character return. But the issue builds to a genuinely shocking conclusion that feels reminiscent of one of the greatest Watchmen moments and sends this series into a new era. Two-thirds of the way in, this series has been compelling, disturbing, and essentially perfect. When you put this against its fellow dark, psychologically-driven event comic Heroes in Crisis, it’s not even close – Geoff Johns is the master of event comics.

Doomsday Clock #8 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Corrina: Ya’ll know that I generally hate event comics, especially the whole Darkseid saga that Johns wrote not too long ago? If not, be informed that my general wariness of event comics informs my critique of this issue and the whole series.

As does my continued annoyance that Johns seems to miss the entire point of Watchmen as a critique of superhero stories and instead treats Watchmen as just yet another event superhero story. I don’t even like Watchmen much but I see the meta-commentary on exactly the kind of stories that Johns likes to write.

So, that doesn’t mean bits and pieces of writing in Doomsday Clock #8 are bad. Indeed, Superman’s quest to help Firestorm recovery from not being able to control his power and the subsequent confrontation in Red Square has emotional power. But I’m left with the question of why we needed this story. Why do we need a DC version of the X-Men “hunted and feared by humans” saga? If I wanted that, I’d read X-Men. (If I could figure out where to re-start again, that is. But I digress.)

The big reveal at the end is that Firestorm isn’t Firestorm, which Batman knows, though it’s unclear how he knows this, given this person has Firestorm’s powerset. I’m guessing it’s Dr. Manhattan in disguise? Or something.

In any case, despite some good writing here and there, I continue to fail to see any point to this series.

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

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4 thoughts on “Review – Doomsday Clock #8: Chaos in Russia

  1. I’m with Corrina’s dissenting point of view.

    In fact, I think this issue has the hallmarks of all that is bad about Johns writing of late. The contrivances. The mischaracterizations. The tedium.

    First, Johns is nowhere near “one of the best Superman writers alive”. Geez, there are guys like Byrne, Stern, Ordway, Wolfman, Jurgens, Perez, Ruck, Waid, Morrison and Bates still around and kicking!

    Johns’ limited runs on the character are hardly seminal. He writes the character as naive, if not a simpleton. And that is what we get in this issue. There were tons of ways where Superman could have diffused the situation. He could have moved all the affected people before people even saw him move, or ever known he was there. What Supes forgets he has super speed?

    He could have made a wise impassioned speech which reflects his appreciation of sensitivities and context – after all as Clark he’s an award winning journalist! Or does Johns also ignore that for convenience?

    But that is the hallmark of Johns writing, he changes characters and their powers as neceesary to drive his plot- regardless how illogical it all seems. So he needs Clark to be naive? Done. He wants him to forget his own power set? Okay. Jon Osterman can suddenly travel through time? Or shapeshift? Done and done. Let’s make him a loon? Firestorm(?) is suddenly a rookie who can’t control his powers? This doesn’t read as odd to Superman? All departures of the characters so that can lazily push his plot(?) through.

    and we will not get into the infantile perspective on global politics.

    This book and series is garbage.

  2. Corrina – “The big reveal at the end is that Firestorm isn’t Firestorm, which Batman knows, though it’s unclear how…”

    When reading Batman’s panes together you get a different view – “The energy readings are spiking! It’s not Firestorm!”. If Firestorm’s energy readings are not spiking, then the next logical candidate is Superman.

    The big reveal in the end is that Superman had a solar flare and many people were injured – setting the stage for a Dr Manhattan confrontation.

  3. Johns is by far one of the best Superman writers alive. Secret Origins is up at the top of the list. I don’t love everything he’s done, but as a whole Doomsday Clock has been pretty solid.

    I really hate Heroes in Crisis. There’s really no comparison–Doomsday Clock is superior in every way. When I first heard Johns was doing a DC/Watchmen mashup, I was not happy about it at all, but Johns has changed my opinion. Oh, and Darkseid War was really good, so there.

  4. Secret Origins is a mediocre origin story that did not remain main canon for five years.

    Everything Johns has introduced summarily failed thereafter.

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