Geoff Johns, Gary Frank & Brad Anderson
The minute hand inches ever closer as the opus that is Doomsday Clock enters its final quarter of issues and, just as intricate as the inner mechanisms of a clock, the book continues to present so many of the strengths and creative techniques the medium can offer. After the Firestorm disaster, Superman and Batman are left to recover. Meanwhile, basically the entire pantheon of DC heroes head forth to confront a strange, unknown foe, Jon Osterman aka Doctor Manhattan. Yes, finally, the god or god-like entity from Watchmen finally takes center stage and his presence does not disappoint!
What’s fascinating to see throughout this series is how Geoff Johns and Gary Frank have crafted a story that doesn’t just simply emulate Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s masterpiece, but takes the “rules” and other elements that were established into fresh, new territory. It has never once felt like a cash-grab event book because the focus of the book, so far, has rarely been on the characters readers would expect, but rather the “B characters” that Johns loves and has a history of breathing fresh life and agency into, as well as the new characters introduced such as Marionette and Mime. This issue is no different with Firestorm being a key component of the plot and a core conflict/element running through the entirety of Clock: the Superman Theory.
The storytelling continues to be spellbinding and will encourage and merit multiple readings. The use of cross-cutting and overlapping dialog in the comic makes the experience flow well and be extremely dynamic. Everything is coming a head and this technique effectively and beautifully accomplished that concept. It’s a dense issue with a lot to process, but Frank is able to convey so much visually in a digestible fashion, even when there are a large of dialog bubbles in panels. The metatextual narrative that Geoff Johns is incorporating into this work doesn’t feel forced or blatant, but rather an organic piece of the story and plot. It’s this extra layer and how it’s executed so well that elevates the comic above so many titles on the stands currently. It’s not only a reflection of our current sociopolitical, but the stories that DC Comics has and is telling. This issue is a compelling read that demands readers active participation.
Brad Anderson absolutely shines in this issue. His coloring skills makes the clash of the DC heroes and Manhattan just explode off the page. The blue of the character is just as distinct and attention-grabbing as it is in Watchmen. It’s difficult to find balance with so many colors at play in small panels, but Anderson is able to make sure nothing is lost in translation and to highlight where the audience’s focus needs to be. His masterful use of lighting is on full display throughout and worth paying attention to. The line art is just eye-opening. Gary Frank is able to potently convey the scope of the meeting of the two worlds. Seeing all the characters surround, investigate and engage him is a sequence to be remembered. Throughout this issue alone there are so many panels that just feel iconic. Even in the quieter moments, a stoic reverent nature is conveyed making sure readers know the importance of the events in this issue.
Johns was able to craft pitch-perfect dialog for all the characters and allows for needed levity to momentous occasions that take place. How he writes Doctor Manhattan is also a sight to behold. The presence, disconnected nature and objective tone is absolutely there and makes his appearance feel perfect. Geoff Johns is a dialog chameleon because it seems like there’s no character he can’t give a true-to-form, distinct voice to.
Everything in Doomsday Clock feels earned and meticulous. Yes, the release between issues has been delayed, but it is so worth the wait. The work these creatives are presenting lives up to the work that inspired this story, but makes sure to be uniquely its own narrative, just as Watchmen was. Three issues left and this book felt like the ramp up to a powerful conclusion, which, with what unfolded in these pages, is crazy to consider.