Written by Geoff Johns
Illustrated by Gary Frank
Published by DC Comics
After the longest wait yet, Doomsday Clock returns and…oh boy.
At long last, the heroes of the DCU head to Mars for a showdown with Dr. Manhattan–minus Superman and Batman, who were gravely injured in Moscow following the Firestorm incident.
Batman recovers at home, while Superman remains comatose in the Hall of Justice as the President denounces him on television.
It’s Dr. Manhattan who narrates this issue, pondering the timeline of the DCU before and after he tweaked it. It’s a narration that sounds all too familiar if you’ve read Watchmen, the shifting back and forth of a man unstuck in time, able to see everything that is, was, and will be. Except he can’t quite.
He still sees that he’s headed for a confrontation with Superman…but he sees nothing after it.
If anything, it’s too much of an homage for me to enjoy. At its best, Doomsday Clock was uneasily able to straddle the line between bold new story and bald tribute, but this issue veers a bit too far in the latter direction, even as it begins to build to long-promised fireworks.
Geoff Johns at least shows why he’s the pre-eminent DC storyteller of his generation, with a terrific grasp of the individual characters. But his Dr. Manhattan, even as an antagonist, is just going through motions Alan Moore started over three decades ago.
Gary Frank, on the other hand, is doing brilliant work. There’s a reason this issue is called “Crisis,” and while taking inspiration from Dave Gibbons’ panel grids, he’s also channeling George Perez’s dynamic renderings and facility with large casts. The attack on Dr. Manhattan is a thrilling sequence, even if it does borrow one of the more iconic images from the original Watchmen.
We’re in the home stretch now, and the story still has knots left to untie. We’ll find out over the next six months (hopefully), if the revelations will satisfy us, and more important, if Johns and Frank really have something to say.