Doomsday Clock 3


Dear G*d, are there no depths to which Geoff Johns will not sink in his determination to shit all over Watchmen and Alan Moore?

To date, Doomsday Clock has had the minimal decency to confine its trespass into the Watchmen story to the marginally-acceptable aftermath of those long-established events. That is, at least, some form of fair game, leaving the original story intact and unchanged. But issue 3, continuing directly from the previous cliffhanger that has Eddie Blake, the Comedian, stepping out of the shadows, now jumps directly into torturing the Watchmen story into a different shape.

It now appears that Edward Blake didn’t actually die in Watchmen 1. No matter that that was the primary incident, the start of the story, a development fundamental to the entire series, Johns has waved it away. Never happened. Didn’t die. All of Watchmen is now, supposedly, based on a lie.

Johns’ construct is that everything from Veidt breaking into Blake’s apartment to Blake going out of the window and hurtling thirty floors head first did still happen, but that instead of crashing onto the city sidewalk, Blake found himself miraculously plunging into the bay, courtesy of Dr Manhattan.

Of course, this immediately brings up a few dozen questions. Like: where did the dead, head-smashed-in-from-falling-thirty-floors body come from, howcum they didn’t identify as being someone other than Eddie Blake, hang about they had a funeral for him, what was Eddie doing for the month of the story whilst the world was going to hell in a handbasket, why, and who the fuck Geoff Johns thinks he is?

I can’t say that I await the answers with any enthusiasm, but there had better be answers, though given that it’s now been announced that Doomsday Clock will skip two months after issue 4, and then go bi-monthly, p

Once this revelation is dropped on us, Blake and Veidt have a fight, Ozy throws himself out of the window and survives the fall, but only with injuries that put him in hospital, and the whole things takes eight bloody bloated pages to move us on about six inches, if that.

Elsewhere, Batman and the new, young, black Roscharch, aka Reggie (we still don’t know who he is but he was old enough to be driving a car the day Veidt’s ‘alien’ manifested so I’m assuming he will turn out to be the son on Malcolm, Rorscharch’s Prison Psychiatrist: how banal) have a weird conversation. Reggie gives Wayne Walter Kovacs’ journal to read (how did he get that back? It was last seen in the offices of The New Frontiersman). Wayne puts him up in the Manor overnight, Alfred makes him pancakes, then Batman pretends to be leading him to Dr Manhattan, but it’s only a trick to get him into a cell at Arkham. Whatever happened to knocking him out, or doping him in his sleep, if you want to imprison him? Why this ridiculous charade? Could it be to demonstrate how stupid and easily tricked the Watchmen characters are, how superior the DC ones are?

Equally elsewhere, our Punch and Jewellee-manque pair, Mime and Marionette, visit a bar to get a drink. It’s on Joker turf and the crew don’t take kindly to Joker-esque make-up. So our psychotic pair kill them all brutally (Mime’s weapons aren’t imaginary, they’re invisible), and decide to go after whoever this Joker is anyway. Uh-oh, I foresee trouble!

So far, this pair are as pointless as they see themselves being. They are also marginally acceptable, being a new creation that has no bearing whatsoever on the original story and thus to that extent inoffensive, but all they are so far is one more attempt to drag Watchmen down to the playground level of the DC Universe.

To re-state the point I made last issue, Watchmen was conceived as a hermetically-sealed, complete story, in which superheroics/costumed adventures were to be approached in a manner that was different to the orthodox/classical/traditional approach that held sway in all DC’s other titles. It was meant to be different. Johns is erasing that difference, making it just the same as all the rest.

This vividly reminds me of something. I was a much more avid reader of superhero comics back in the late Eighties/early Nineties, among them the George Perez-led revival of Wonder Woman and Gary Cohn and Dan Mishkin’s goofy, hyper-kinetic Blue Devil. These were two very different series who had in common that the central character was treated unconventionally. Wonder Woman was the outsider, a holy innocent, who existed only as Diana of Themyscira and Wonder Woman, the two being interchangeable. Dan Cassidy was a Hollywood stuntman/special FX guy who got fixed in his Blue Devil suit and would really rather get out.

And the letter columns of both titles featured a stream of letters from fans praising this individual approach, calling it refreshing and new, and eagerly suggesting that it would be even better if it were exactly like all the rest.

Whether he is consciously aware of it, Geoff Johns comes across as someone who desperately wants Watchmen to be exactly like all the rest, the things he knows and is comfortable with, and he will do anything he can to make them just as ordinary.

Outside of the firstly Watchmenworld stuff, there’s a bit of a teaser going on. Firstly, we’re continuing to get more of these supposed old film noir Nathaniel Dusk movies (with a belated nod to writer Don McGregor, but only in the pseudo-Watchmen stuff at the back). This may or may not be the present series’ nod to ‘Tales of the Black Freighter’, but it’s also used to introduce an elderly man in a nursing home, who may not be in possession of all his marbles. His name is Thunder. Johnny Thunder.

And there are references in the back material to John Law and Libby Lawrence in relation to the ‘Nathaniel Dusk’ movies. Are we going to see Doomsday Clock used as a springboard to finally reintroduce the real Justice Society of America into the DC Universe?!

Of course we fucking are, and it may be the only worthwhile thing about this benighted heap of shit but it’s a high price to pay, no matter how much my favourites they still are.

Lastly, I mentioned last time my ignorance about the ‘current continuity’ of protest on the DC Earth over the suggestion that all our favourite superhumans are actually an American military creation. Some further re-reading identifies that Doomsday Clock is supposed to have no crossovers because it’s happening in the DC Universe’s future: that the rest of the Universe will only catch up to this series at the same time it ends. So, there you go. We know what’s coming up then. If and when Doomsday Clock limps to its finishing line.

I don’t foresee any future left for me and them by then.

UPDATE: Doomsday Clock has already gone bi-monthly, with issue 4 not scheduled until the end of March. Given how long they had to prepare for this, it’s a bit bloody feeble, especially at Watchmen‘s only delay was an additional three weeks for issue 12.

4 thoughts on “Doomsday Clock 3

  1. Martin

    Thanks for reading this garbage so that I don’t need to.

    I suppose Manhattan could eventually return Blake to his death plunge, which is the least imaginative way possible of resolving this.

    It might amuse you to know that the comics news site Bleeding Cool refers to Doomsday Clock as an unauthorised sequel to Watchmen, which some people are upset about.

  2. Hi David, and thanks for the support. Ordinarily, I’d avoid this kind of shit like the plague, but unfortunately, being unable to completely rid myself of an interest in DC comics that has lasted since about 1964 or thereabouts, this is one of those got-to-know-about events, and at least it gives me the chance to present a minority opinion.

    I am a daily visitor to Bleeding Cool and appreciate Rich Johnson’s stance. Legally, he’s out of line, but morally, he’s on the ball, not that that goes down with a lot of the audience. But then the audience has always been a big part of the problem with mainstream comics: they cannot imagine the concept of a completed story and cry out in fury when someone tries to keep other writers from laying a turd on the works of someone better.

  3. Hello Martin,

    Just a point about this issue:
    The original Watchmen shows the comedian’s gin(?) bottle by the side of his chair, and it is still there, albeit tipped over, at the end of the fight. Basically, no bottle was thrown it seems.
    So….is Geoff Johns hinting that he is using Watchmen charaters from an alternative universe? (In which case, maybe he is going to eventually say: aha! It was never a sequel after all!
    Or, as is much more likely, he has never really given Watchmen a close reading (which explains a lot).
    Anyway, pleased to see your review amongst the froth.
    My own view is that, clearly, if one universe can be described as ‘cynical’ it is the DC one. The one within which the main character of Doomsday Clock turns out to be: Dollar Bill.

    1. Interesting theory, Don. But even if Ozymandias, the Comedian et al do turn out to be from Earth-Watchmen-2 (which I think is a subtlety way beyond anything Johns is capable of), it won’t change my feelings about this. I think the whole thing rests on the fact that people like DiDio and Johns have wanted to use the Watchmen characters for years without ever once understanding what they’re about. I don’t know how old you are, but I was thirty when Watchmen came out, read it avidly, understood that it was a complete story that operated as successfully as it did precisely because it was separate and complete. Johns doesn’t get that, and I genuinely think that his compulsion to trash everything that made Watchmen different is subconscious and based in fear of what he can’t understand.

      I will continue to eviscerate every issue they put out, but I know it’s an uphill battle. Thanks for the good words.

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