After Reading Doomsday Clock #10, I Just Want It To Count Down Quicker Now

by Olly MacNamee

[+++ Warning, this review contains spoilers for Doomsday Clock #10 +++]

I cannot simply review this particular issue of Geoff Johns and Gary Franks’ Doomsday Clock without spoilers, given the revelatory nature of this issue and what it may well mean for the story going forward, and of the wider DCU too. If you haven’t read this week’s issue, you might want to ahead of reading this review. For the rest of you inquisitive minded folk, read on!

As the black and white cover reveals, acting the first panel in this issue – as the covers for the original series did back in the day – we have the return of DC’s gumshoe detective, Nathaniel Dusk, or rather the actor who played him on the silver screen, Carver Colman, who is on set filming another installment of this imaginary franchise, on June 8th 1954. The reason I mention the date is because of the now-familiar non-linear narrative of a certain Dr. Manhattan, who we learn arrived on this particular Earth in 1938, after leaving Ozymandias and the Watchmen universe in 1985. Of course, the date of 1938 is a rather significant one, as its the year Superman burst forth into comics with an almost immediate effect of an accompanying superhero publishing explosion. This isn’t news to anyone I dare say reading this title, as it requires the reader to be somewhat familiar with DC Comics’ history, and its many, many reboots. Reboots that Dr. Manhattan bares witness to through this book. He reappears in 1956, the dawn of the Silver Age of comes, and again in 1986 and John Byrne’s post Crisis On Infinity Earths revamp.

It’s in this time-hopping that we discover the conceit upon which this whole series seem to be based. The DCU’s Superman is a character around whom the whole universe grows, reforms and revolves around. Welcome to… drum roll please… the metaverse. Yep, the metaverse, in which all renditions of Superman exist as one-by-one previous renditions seem to be written over and erased from history, starting with Manhattan taking out Supes in 1938. Y’know, like DC Comics do from time to time. It’s not quite the Deadpool-level realisation that he’s in a comic book, but its very close. Just without the laughs. Although, unwittingly, it had me laughing. Laughing at this central concept being the best Johns can come up with in this Alan Moore aping series that has had some highs, but far too many lows.

If the message seems to have been one done to death in comics, ever since Grant Morrison confronted Animal Man way, way back; i.e. that superhero are a fiction created in our real world and that, in creating Superman, Siegel and Shuster not only created their very own Big Bang, but in all eras of comics, Superman is king! The original and still the best. Johns is but another creator in a long line of creators who are playing in the sandbox and trying to create mighty castles in the sand.

But, for me, the metaverse is up there with Mark Waid’s hypertime. It’s a weak, get-out-of-jail-free narrative device to hang a saga of this magnitude upon and I do hope it’s soon forgotten about by other writers. The multiverse has more than enough potential fun in it for us to worry about the many different Supermen of the past 81 years having existed. All thanks to the meddling of Doctor Manhattan who realises that he may have been his world’s potential hero (but, was he though?) but on this world he is public enemy #1.

All the while, at the centre of it all, is Dr Manhattan’s focus; Colman Carver, as we lurch through his tragic life and his annual meetings with Dr Manhattan in the same diner on the same date each year. Why Manhattan latches onto Carver, other than as a focus for this world, is unclear, but maybe the last two issue in this once promising series can come to the rescue. But, throughout this book we do have more than a glimpse at the Justice Society of America (JSA) as well as the Legion of Superheroes (LoS) in the 31st century; bookending the DCU’s timeline as most people know it. And, given that this book could well bring back the JSA and the LoS, I’m not surprised they get their moment in the sun in this issue ahead of us returning to the action on Mars from the last issue.

If this issue was meant as a key issue within the whole series, while it looks amazing – Gary Frank’s attention to the details of each time period we witness is worth picking this comic up for alone – it’s not the Earth shaking book we were promised when the DC Rebirthed itself a few years ago now. Little did I realise that Rebirth would be far more laborious than anyone could ever have imagined. After Reading Doomsday Clock #10 I now just want the whole dang series to count down quicker.

Unfortunately, in its slow production, other, bigger and brasher sagas have outshone this one. What’s happening in Justice League seems to be far more relevant and far more Earth-shattering in it’s revelations that Doomsday Clock. If the DCU is going to be transformed once more, I’d prefer Synder’s rewriting of the DCU to Johns’s I’m afraid. And, I don’t think I’m the only one either. After all, by the time we see the next edition of Doomsday Clock, Justice League will have published a further 6 issue! You simply can’t beat the immediacy, pace and the heat that a schedule like that has on an avid reader.

What was once the shining light at the centre of DC Comics’ Rebirth has become a fading one, replaced by brighter, more attractive lights instead. Like Beyond Watchmen before it, this will be remembered as another exploitative and weak attempt at revitalising and monetising Watchmen for DC Comics. Seems Moore may have put a curse of this property. And then some. Will DC Comics every be able to make Watchmen great again? Or, will that be left to HBO instead?

Doomsday Clock #10 is out now from DC Comics.

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