By Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Brad Anderson, and Rob Leigh
The minute hand continues to inch its way to midnight as the highly anticipated second issue of this maxi-series is released to an unsuspecting public. The creative team seems to feel more comfortable with the material this time around and are able to produce a stronger comic because of it. Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) is dead-set on finding Doctor Manhattan and bringing him back to save the planet, so with four companions, he sets off on a journey to another Earth. Worlds finally collide in this issue.
The collaboration of Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Brad Anderson, and Rob Leigh is just superb throughout this book. Right from page one, readers have to pay attention to the storytelling and the narrative. Johns uses cross-cutting and non-linear storytelling powerfully early on in the issue and is able to cover a lot of material in eight/nine pages. At the same time, it still feels like a reserved pace; calmly building to a powerful crescendo. This gives Frank time to really show off his amazing talent.
Once again, his work is highlighted through his character work. The detail and range of emotions he can render in close-ups are stunning. There are so many panels such as this within this comic and they engage the reader; everything’s coming off the page. Even some of the more seemingly mundane panels such as Marionette primping herself, showcase a real depth and beauty. It all feels authentic and lived. That’s in part to all of the background work he does. Some artists lessen their workload by having solid color backgrounds, but Gary Frank goes that extra mile and then some. So much is packed into one panel, that it truly take multiple readings to take in all of the content.
The artwork doesn’t truly come to life without the color work of Anderson. The tones he sets on every page are unique. Flip to any page and it just pops and captures a reader’s attention. One panel in particular that many would take at face value, stood out to me. When the group start their journey, the panel depicting this is shaking and Frank hadn’t done an image like that in this series yet, but it’s stunning. Upon really examining it, what sold the movement was the almost unnoticeable light colors that Brad Anderson put in between the motion lines outlining the characters. Blending that with color palette of that panel made for such a powerful image. That’s just a taste of the thoroughness and precision being applied to this material.
Also, pay close attention to some Alan Moore DC easter eggs laden within the book. The interactions between key characters feel accurate, spot-on. Geoff Johns deftly handles these potent moments, but again that’s also aided with the artists’ work. The Rorschach narration in a well-known DC location is fascinating and shows how well Johns knows all these characters and this universe. It’s still surprising that he is able to still find something new and interesting to say/convey about an iconic character. Also, the back matter is absolutely worth reading and paying attention to as it pertains to a plot element mentioned in passing in the main story. A novel concept is presented that has incredible plot possibilities and ramifications that also feels in line with some of the ideas Moore created in Watchmen. There’s also the cliffhanger…just wow.
All around this issue is a step above the previous, which was already a high bar. The creatives have proven without a doubt that they are up to the task and capable of delivering a postmodern work that may leave its mark on the medium. Buying it in print is highly recommended because the paper stock used really does the artwork justice, more so than reading it digitally. Folks late to the Doomsday Clock party need to catch-up – better late than never.