Review – Doomsday Clock #9: Showdown on Mars

Comic Books DC This Week
Doomsday Clock #9 cover, via DC Comics.

Doomsday Clock #9 – Geoff Johns, Writer; Gary Frank, Artist; Brad Anderson, Colorist


Ray – 8.5/10

Corrina: Still Watchmen-Lite

Ray: After an extended wait, Doomsday Clock returns with its biggest issue yet – a full thirty pages of Gary Frank art as the heroes of the DCU make their stand against Doctor Manhattan on Mars. It’s also maybe the first issue where this series feels like it loses a bit of a step, because the final confrontation isn’t quite as compelling as the slow-burn build-up. Doctor Manhattan’s taken a more direct role in the series over the last few issues, and his opening narration – as he details the way he’s played God with the DCU across time and space – is brilliant. In the aftermath of last issue’s explosion in Russia, Superman and Batman are off the table and metahumans are under assault across the world. The elite heroes of the world – most of the Justice League and Justice League Dark, the Doom Patrol, the Shazam family, and even Charlton characters like Question and Nightshade – head for Mars to track down the mysterious mastermind, as Doctor Manhattan continues to muse about the coming event that will seemingly spell the end of everything.

Johns hasn’t written DC heroes interacting with each other much in this run, and while some scenes are excellent, others feel a bit off. Guy Gardner’s characterization, in particular, veers pretty strongly towards a cartoonish jerk again – his comments to Jessica Cruz seem just short of a 4Chan troll. Every time Doctor Manhattan is on screen, this issue is brilliant. Johns and Frank do a great job of displaying the sheer scope of his power, from dissolving Guy’s ring to learning the magic of Zatanna and then turning it back on her. Some of the subplots, such as Lex Luthor and Lois Lane comparing notes by Superman’s bedside, are excellent noir writing. But the big twist that ends this issue – revealing Martin Stein is the mastermind behind the Superman Theory and engineered the “Accident” that made him and Ronnie Firestorm – was one part of Doomsday Clock #9 that I very much did not like. Taking one of the few Jewish heroes at DC and making him a conspiratorial mastermind – not great. But even with quibbles like this, the sheer craft that goes into every issue of this book is staggering. Let’s hope the next issue doesn’t take another three months.

Doomsday Clock #9
Doomsday Clock #9 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Corrina: What Ray says is brilliant dialogue is what I view as more along the lines of Johns being excellent at catching Moore’s voice from the original Watchmen.

Whether you enjoy this issue depends on whether you enjoy Johns being an excellent mimic or not. I still don’t see the point of making a sequel. The theme of Watchmen is that superheroes are an unrealistic idea and that bringing them into reality is, well, pointless. (Well, one of the themes. The major one, in any case.)  It was Moore and Gibbons deconstructing the genre.

But, as I’ve said, this is a superhero sequel, the opposite of a deconstruction, and a big event sequel at that, including a moment where Dr. Manhattan takes apart most of Earth’s heroes without much effort. So if that’s your jam, you may like this.

Frank definitely goes to town on the pages which shows the interior of each ship headed to Mars, each including a different group of superheroes and provides a sense of majesty to the issue.  (But I don’t think a sense of majesty was something the original Watchmen was going for either.)

And, yes, I hate the retcon of Martin Stein having caused the Firestorm creation deliberately too. But, then, I also hate Johns’ retcon of Barry Allen’s origin that included his mother being murdered and his father in jail for said murder. Apparently, no one can be a superhero just because they’re a good guy with power. (Save Superman, I guess.)

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

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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