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Review: Doomsday Clock #1

You are not prepared for what lies ahead within these pages, good readers. Doomsday Clock #1 kicks off DC Comics‘ 12-issue maxiseries from the critically acclaimed team of writer Geoff Johns, artist Gary Frank and colorist Brad Anderson.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to Doomsday Clock #1 other than somehow the world of Watchmen and DC would meet. Is it as friends? Is it as foes? Does it have to do with Rebirth? With ominous lead ups such as “The Button” and “The Oz Effect” it’s hard to not expect the worst. And that’s why I was actually pleasantly surprised by this first issue which feels more like a natural sequel to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s classic Watchmen than some big cash-in/crossover/event comic.

The first issue has a focus and that’s inform us about the world of the Watchmen after the alien attack that ended the original work. Taking place in 1992, things are again ticking down to midnight using that iconic imagery to make things a bit more tense and create an urgency of time. The issue focuses on Rorschach who’s putting together a team to save his world. But, Rorschach?! We thought he was dead? I’m not spoiling that at all but everything is explained including some of the complaints individuals had about the teaser released.

Everything makes sense and is explained in a way that none of it feels convoluted and this issue feels like a natural successor to the original iconic series. It keeps the political underpinnings, in fact the politics of this world is dead center within the comic. It pays an homage in a way of how some pages are laid out and the dialogue is written. Writer Geoff Johns has done his homework and is playing the issue in a way that it feels like a natural successor.

Gary Frank‘s art helps Johns in creating visuals and page layouts that feel like some of the original work by Gibbons (who provides a cover for the series). The series uses a lot of nine panel pages much like the original work and I’d imagine the only point this might change is when the two worlds collide. It’s clear Frank has also done his homework and sticks to what has happened before. There’s no splash pages or panels breaking each other or characters breaking out of them, it’s conservative in a way helping focus on the characters and the dialogue. Where the series differs in Brad Anderson‘s colors which do break from the original’s more sparse style. That’s not a negative at all but a reflection of how that in particular has changed in the three decades since.

Much like the original series, there’s back material that explains the world a bit more. We get newspaper clippings explaining where things stand and adds depth to the world and characters in a way that wouldn’t be as easy through the regular narrative.

We do get some of the promise of Superman in this issue. It’s brief but leaves you a bit with some of that nervousness of where things are going creating more of the mystery of what’s to come. It’s a literal nightmare, but what does it all mean?

Going in I expected… not this and finishing it I was not only pleasantly surprised but excited to see what comes. An impressive start, Doomsday Clock #1 feels like a bridge from what was to what is. There’s a clear reverence to the source material in its presentation, themes, and the characters. At a time when “event/gimmick comics” feel like they’ve burned themselves out, Doomsday Clock #1 is a pleasant surprise that has me looking forward to diving into the unknown.

Story: Geoff Johns Art: Gary Frank Color: Brad Anderson
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Doomsday Clock #1

And so here we are — the “big event” that all of DC Rebirth has been leading up to, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s eagerly anticipated/thoroughly dreaded (depending on your point of view) DCU/Watchmen mash-up, Doomsday Clock. The lines between the two formerly-separate fictitious universes were blurred, of course, in last year’s DC Universe Rebirth Special, and here they’re completely wiped out. We’ve known it was coming, now it’s arrived — and it wants five bucks a month from you for the next year as it plays out over the course of 12 issues. Should you do what it (and, specifically, DC) wants?

Lots of critics are answering that question with an emphatic “yes,” some no doubt charmed by the free pancake mix and maple syrup that preview copies of the book came packaged with (DC shrewdly, but wisely, calculating that many comics critics — like many comics creators — are fucking starving), while others seem to genuinely like the fruits of Johns’ and Frank’s “imaginations.” Allow me, then, to do what I’m best at and piss on everyone’s Corn Fla — err, pancake breakfast.

Granted, to say I wasn’t expecting much from Doomsday Clock would be putting things mildly, but I was genuinely taken aback by just how much I despised this thing. Frank’s art is certainly competent enough, I suppose, highly detailed but utterly devoid of personality, a triumph of style over substance, and Brad Anderson‘s colors are a reasonable enough computerized approximation of original Watchmen colorist John Higgins‘ singular palette, albeit with more gradations in regards to shade and hue, but hey, you know what they say about lipstick and pigs — and this story is one hell of an oinker.

Johns has clearly read Watchmen dozens, if not hundreds, of times over the years — but the entire point (hell, points) of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons‘ seminal, transformative classic was just as clearly lost on him. Every page — in fact very nearly every panel — of Watchmen was layered with thematic, conceptual, even allegorical meaning, but if you’re a facile, “surface-level” reader? Hey, it’s just a clever super-hero “whodunit” with a decidedly dark tone. Issue one of Doomsday Clock makes it abundantly clear what sort of reader Johns is.

It makes it abundantly clear what sort of writer he is, as well — one whose abilities are dramatically limited by his reading skills. Nobody apart from the most continuity-obsessed, intellectually adolescent fanboys have ever even wondered  how you could cross over the DC and Watchmen “universes,” never mind what would happen once you did so, and for that reason I really can’t fathom how anyone apart from a continuity-obsessed, intellectually adolescent fanboy would find what’s going on in these pages remotely interesting : it’s 1992 (a 1992 where variations of the term “deplorables” are in common use, where a Brexit-type event has triggered to the collapse of the EU, and where there’s a wall along the US/Mexico border — even though President Goldenshower isn’t in office, Robert Redford is? Does anyone even edit Johns’ scripts for such basics as logical plausibility?) on “Earth-Watchmen,” and things are a mess with Adrian Veidt’s scheme exposed and the purported “world’s smartest man” the subject of a global manhunt. Rorschach is on the case, but they make it clear pretty quickly that this Rorschach isn’t that Rorschach (special points for tone-deafness on Johns’ part for putting a black guy in the costume made infamous by a racist, civil-rights-trampling, vigilante lunatic — again, where’s an editor when you need one?), and that his part in whatever the hell’s going on global meltdown-wise isn’t what it seems. In fact, he’s working for —- fuck it, spoilers and all that — who’s very much alive but — fuck it, spoilers and all that again — and they’ve got a plan to — by this point you already know I’m not really going to give any “big” details away. Then we wrap up with a scene of Clark Kent on “Earth-0” (or whatever it’s called these days) having a dream about his parents’ death that doesn’t jibe with what we’ve known before.

Now, plot twists were a key component of Watchmen, of course, but they were the icing on a damn deep and rich cake. Here, though, those twists are all that Johns and Frank are serving up. This is a cheap, “flashy” story dependent on “wowing” you with one surprise after the next — but again, those surprises will only be effective if you give a shit about this cash-grab premise in the first place, and no reason for the skeptical, or even merely curious, to “buy in” is ever offered by these low-rent “creators.”

Hell, truth be told, they’re like Trump in that I don’t think they know how to reach beyond a hard-core base. Watchmen was the comic you could give to people who don’t read comics, but in order to begin to understand Doomsday Clock you need to have been deeply invested in the intricate minutiae of DC product (let’s just call it what it is) for a couple of decades or more. If nine-panel grids and grumbled “hrrrmmm”s are enough to convince you that Johns and Frank are “honoring” the legacy of Moore and Gibbons, then I guess this’ll do in a pinch, but for anyone else? Say, somebody with a modestly-developed sense of discernment? This comic is as insulting to you as it is to Watchmen‘s creators, neither of whom were even given so much as a courtesy call to let them know this toxic sludge was about to slide down the pipeline.

Johns has made some public statements clearly designed to mollify concerned parties, saying that this series won’t be saddled with any “tie-ins” to other books because he doesn’t want to “dilute the Watchmen brand” (as if its very existence doesn’t do precisely that), and that he doesn’t intend to wrap things up with a Superman vs. Doctor Manhattan fight but, rather, with a “conversation” between the two of them — but that presupposes that he has anything worth saying about either character. Based on the evidence offered by Doomsday Clock #1, I’d say it’s painfully obvious that he doesn’t. I won’t be sticking around to find out, of course — and neither should you. So enjoy those pancakes, everybody — they sure taste better than the shit sandwich that came with them.

Story: Geoff Johns Art: Gary Frank Colors: Brad Anderson
Story: 0  Art: 4 Overall: 2 Recommendation: Pass

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Doomsday Clock #1

To put it bluntly, Doomsday Clock #1 is what many comic book fans (And Alan Moore wherever he is.) have feared: a direct sequel to Watchmen. The story is set in an alternate version of 1992 about five years after the events of the original series. An actor (Robert Redford) is president, the world is on the brink of nuclear war, Ozymandias is a fugitive and pariah, Dr. Manhattan is missing, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre are still happily retired and don’t appeared, and the book focuses on the new Rorschach in town. With the exception of the final scene, Doomsday Clock #1 isn’t so much a crossover, but Watchmen II. It takes its times and gives readers a flavor of Moore and Dave Gibbons’ even more dystopian universe and kicks the plot into gear in a way similar to the back half of the original series than the initial investigation into the Comedian’s death. (Edward Blake would probably appreciate the opening riot scene though.)

Writer Geoff Johns does a pretty fair impression of the smelly, ink blot mask wearing vigilante and adds a few wrinkles of his own like his willingness to compromise and throw his lot in with criminals “in the face of Armageddon”. Having a writer, who is mostly known for writing straightforward superheroes and space cops, go into a twisted not-so-Randian psyche, is a little awkward though, and seems like a kid in his father’s clothes than the ruthless prose of crime writer Brian Azzarello in Before Watchmen: Rorschach. This clumsiness fits into the story as Rorschach II has some of the same abilities as the original character like the ability to pull off a pretty decent prison escape, a prodigious stench, and paranoia (He’s one of the few characters in this universe who uses a “gas guzzling” car.), but he “breaks character” a lot and acts like an empathetic human being even to murderers. His secret identity is pretty obvious too thanks to a diversity deficiency in the original Watchmen

Artist Gary Frank’s pencils are incredibly detailed, and he doesn’t use a nine panel grid every page although he sticks to the three row setup of panels with the exception of the title. However, he creates the occasional symphony of juxtaposition like when the US government finally goes nuclear, and Rorschach does his prison break thing. Frank’s work is strong and unwavering, like the original Rorschach’s conventions, and for the most part, colorist Brad Anderson stays out of his way and lets his pencils shine. Anderson does have a couple tricks up his sleeve like color coding some panels to different characters, such as brown for Rorschach, gold for Ozymandias, and alarm red any time there’s a nuclear threat.

Johns’ use of alternate history elements in Doomsday Clock #1 are fairly on-the-nose as he turns President Redford into President Trump of the early 90s with his incessant golfing, ties to Russia and North Korea, obsession with a single news network, and polarization of political discourse in the United States. His sheer ineptitude (and invisibility) turns Ozymandias into a sort of sympathetic character even though he was responsible for so many deaths in the original Watchmen. Ironically, Ozymandias has the same mission: saving the world.

Gary Frank’s super close-ups of frightened human faces in the opening montage of Doomsday Clock #1 do a much better job at showing world that was already hell plunging into a deeper, darker circle of that hell than any faux Rorschach voiceovers and tacked on worldbuilding from Geoff Johns. You can see the slobber in the mouth of a rioter as he goes at a police officer with a broken bottle and shatters the glass in one of Ozymandias’ old buildings. In a clever twist, the bank of TVs with endless channels in Ozymandias’ lair is turned to one showing that his actions didn’t lead to a utopia, but a dictatorship. Frank is one of the rare photorealistic artists that doesn’t have any stiffness to his work finding a sweet spot on Scott McCloud’s “picture plane” and bringing humanity to characters that would be action figures or distant gods in other artists’ hands. This skill comes in handy when a certain character appears in the last several pages. He’s also fantastic with gestures, and Johns realizes this by including a mime themed supervillain in the story that is fairly grounded and very violent in the Watchmen tradition.

Doomsday Clock #1 shows that for better or worse, Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson are taking their time with their DC Rebirth/Watchmen crossover and spend time reestablishing and tearing down the world of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ comic before having Superman punch Dr. Manhattan or having Ozymandias and Lex Luthor swap plans for world domination over vodka sodas. Johns’ writing is awkward, but his plotting is focused and gets the proverbial clock ticking while Gibbons’ art is a real treat. Some parts of Doomsday Clock are pretty groanworthy, but others are pretty damn cool.

Story: Geoff Johns Art: Gary Frank Colors: Brad Anderson
Story: 7.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 7.8 Recommendation: Read 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Doomsday Clock #1

You are not prepared for what lies ahead within these pages, good readers. Doomsday Clock #1 kicks off DC Comics‘ 12-issue maxiseries from the critically acclaimed team of writer Geoff Johns, artist Gary Frank and colorist Brad Anderson.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to Doomsday Clock #1 other than somehow the world of Watchmen and DC would meet. Is it as friends? Is it as foes? Does it have to do with Rebirth? With ominous lead ups such as “The Button” and “The Oz Effect” it’s hard to not expect the worst. And that’s why I was actually pleasantly surprised by this first issue which feels more like a natural sequel to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s classic Watchmen than some big cash-in/crossover/event comic.

The first issue has a focus and that’s inform us about the world of the Watchmen after the alien attack that ended the original work. Taking place in 1992, things are again ticking down to midnight using that iconic imagery to make things a bit more tense and create an urgency of time. The issue focuses on Rorschach who’s putting together a team to save his world. But, Rorschach?! We thought he was dead? I’m not spoiling that at all but everything is explained including some of the complaints individuals had about the teaser released.

Everything makes sense and is explained in a way that none of it feels convoluted and this issue feels like a natural successor to the original iconic series. It keeps the political underpinnings, in fact the politics of this world is dead center within the comic. It pays an homage in a way of how some pages are laid out and the dialogue is written. Writer Geoff Johns has done his homework and is playing the issue in a way that it feels like a natural successor.

Gary Frank‘s art helps Johns in creating visuals and page layouts that feel like some of the original work by Gibbons (who provides a cover for the series). The series uses a lot of nine panel pages much like the original work and I’d imagine the only point this might change is when the two worlds collide. It’s clear Frank has also done his homework and sticks to what has happened before. There’s no splash pages or panels breaking each other or characters breaking out of them, it’s conservative in a way helping focus on the characters and the dialogue. Where the series differs in Brad Anderson‘s colors which do break from the original’s more sparse style. That’s not a negative at all but a reflection of how that in particular has changed in the three decades since.

Much like the original series, there’s back material that explains the world a bit more. We get newspaper clippings explaining where things stand and adds depth to the world and characters in a way that wouldn’t be as easy through the regular narrative.

We do get some of the promise of Superman in this issue. It’s brief but leaves you a bit with some of that nervousness of where things are going creating more of the mystery of what’s to come. It’s a literal nightmare, but what does it all mean?

Going in I expected… not this and finishing it I was not only pleasantly surprised but excited to see what comes. An impressive start, Doomsday Clock #1 feels like a bridge from what was to what is. There’s a clear reverence to the source material in its presentation, themes, and the characters. At a time when “event/gimmick comics” feel like they’ve burned themselves out, Doomsday Clock #1 is a pleasant surprise that has me looking forward to diving into the unknown.

Story: Geoff Johns Art: Gary Frank Color: Brad Anderson
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

New York Comic Con 2017: Watch the DC Doomsday Clock Panel With Geoff Johns Moderated by Lev Grossman

Yesterday at New York Comic ConLev Grossman, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy and former Time Magazine book critic, lead a discussion with Geoff Johns on his ambitious new comic book series Doomsday Clock. Johns revealed the first six pages of issue #1 and provided fans with new details about the series where the Watchmen and DC universes will meet for the first time ever.

Those who attended also got an ashcan of the comic which you can check out online.

Geoff Johns Shares More Doomsday Clock Details

As the countdown to Doomsday Clock continues, writer Geoff Johns spills even more details on the creative process behind the upcoming Doomsday Clock comic, including a closer look at Gary Frank’s impressive artwork.

Johns also reveals that he’ll be sharing new details and artwork on the Doomsday Clock panel at New York Comic Con and that fans in the panel room will receive an exclusive item that is not available anywhere else! The panel will be moderated by celebrated author Lev Grossman (The Magicians) on Friday at 6pm ET on the Main Stage. For fans that won’t be at the show don’t worry, you can livestream the panel on the DC Facebook page.

Doomsday Clock #1 hits stores November 22, 2017. The forthcoming twelve issue series will meld together the celebrated characters from the Watchmen and DC universes, including Batman, Superman, Lex Luthor, Dr. Manhattan, among others, into an unforgettable and thought-provoking adventure.

Geoff Johns Talks Doomsday Clock in a New Video

Get a sneak peek at the most anticipated series of the year, with this new trailer debuting the road to Doomsday Clock! From The New York Times best-selling writer/artist team of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, the forthcoming twelve issue series brings together iconic characters from both the Watchmen and DC universes.

Join Johns as he speaks candidly about this thought-provoking new series. From the hints left in DC Universe: Rebirth, to his collaboration with Gary Frank, this first look digs into the origin of the series and provides more insight on how Doomsday Clock is truly a story of our time.

Doomsday Clock #1 hits shelves November 22, 2017.

Doomsday Clock and Geoff Johns are Front and Center for New York Comic Con

This November, The New York Times best-selling writer/artist team of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank will deliver one of the most talked-about new series, Doomsday Clock. The book promises to bring together iconic characters from both the Watchmen and DC universes. Rest assured, fans counting down to the release will not have to wait long for new details about the series. Mark your calendars for the Doomsday Clock panel on the New York Comic Con main stage Friday, October 6, at 6:00 pm ET.

During the panel, Johns will reveal the first pages of issue #1 and lead an in-depth discussion on how it all began, starting with his acclaimed DC Universe: Rebirth one-shot and leading to Doomsday Clock this November. In addition, the audience will receive a limited-edition Doomsday Clock item available only at the panel.

This is a first look you won’t want to miss. Doomsday Clock #1 hits shelves November 22, 2017.

DC Reveals the Doomsday Clock #1 Lenticular Cover

This morning, writer and DC President and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns revealed the final cover for Doomsday Clock #1! The lenticular cover features prior existing Watchmen art by Dave Gibbons, and is the final version to what was revealed last week, along with the main cover and variant from artist Gary Frank. Doomsday Clock #1 will hit shelves November 22, with more details on the way in the coming months!

Doomsday Clock is a 12-issue maxiseries from the critically acclaimed team of writer Geoff Johns, artist Gary Frank and colorist Brad Anderson.

At San Diego Comic-Con Geoff Johns Proclaims “The End is Here”

Geoff Johns at SDCC revealed new details about his highly anticipated Doomsday Clock series. During the hour-long Spotlight conversation, Johns debuted six interior panels, beautifully illustrated by Gary Frank with colors by Brad Anderson, including confirmation of Dr. Manhattan’s involvement in Doomsday Clock.

Doomsday Clock is a story for our time that brings the greatest heroes and villains from the DC Universe together with the mysterious forces from the Watchmen Universe. As Johns discussed the sophistication of the story and its real-world influence, his words paired beautifully with the panels, which are highly detailed and evoke layers of emotion.

During the panel, Johns announced that the series would be Superman centric and it will start one year in the future from current DC continuity. The timelines will link up at the conclusion of the series where readers will see characters that have been affected by the events in Doomsday Clock.

The first issue will hit shelves on Wednesday, November 22, just prior to the Thanksgiving 2017 holiday, a time of year that has a special meaning in Johns’ life. Each year, he would return home from school with the latest comic books to read and discuss with his friends. The monthly series will run 12 issues with planned breaks in March and August.

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