Story: Geoff Johns
Art: Gary Frank
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
What They Say:
This stunning issue of the critically acclaimed hit maxiseries reveals the secrets behind Dr. Manhattan and his connection to the DC Universe.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Doomsday Clock hits that pivotal issue where the truths are laid clear and we get an idea of how the publisher wants to explain everything in a “big picture” sense in terms of continuity. DC Comics has always tried to tackle it with soft reboots and massive changes, notably with the 1986 Crisis series that made me a huge fan, because trying to just keep stretching things is problematic. But it’s difficult on the flip side because reboots and relaunched/altered continuity can lose fans, as New 52 shows once the initial wave of interest wore off. Geoff Johns and Gary Frank look to put all the right pieces in place here but I’m left wondering just how much impact all of this will have since the series started in late 2017 and we’re in the middle of 2019 and just now getting to the tenth issue. Is it all just theater to delight that hardcore subset of fans? Or is it going to really matter across the board?
With a couple of nods to the events in the present happening on Mars as Jon awaits Superman’s arrival, the bulk of this takes place in the past at different points in time. It’s largely focused on Jon as we get his narration steppings us backward and forward, which can be a hard read at times to really connect with. It’s part of what makes him so cold and distant for many which is both appeal and problem. Taking a view of how he departed in the original Watchmen book, seeking for something different in a new galaxy, he ends up on Earth in early 1938 where he connects with a struggling actor named Carver Colman. For ten years, Colman has been trying to exist in this field and has struggled the entire way. Jon reveals his true self to him but hides it from everyone else. And over the course of sixteen years, the two meet at a diner where Jon tells him tales of the future as he sees them, which is part of his whole acclimating to what’s different in the piece of the multiverse.
The core of it is that he discovers that Superman is the strange lynchpin upon which everything hinges. We see aspects of his debut in 1938 with the car crash and all, but over time we see how he debuted as Superman in the 50s and then the 80s. Each incarnation brings its own different ramifications as the reboots/relaunches are explored, including nods to the 31st century where Jon sees the real scope of what Superman brings to existence in this timeline. It’s fascinating to see the differences, even knowing them having read about them for decades, but shifting it so that this core timeline, the ostensible Earth-0, is now what he calls the Metaverse that makes the impact on everything else sets the larger table. This timeline is what adjusts reality based on other events, notably in how others tried to remove or change Superman to radically alter the world, and Jon learns by all of this with mistakes. Everything is leading to that confrontation with him in the here and now though, which is built up really well here based on seeing the staggered arc of existence that Superman has operated in.
The next installment arrives in the middle of August 2019 and I already feel like I’ll forget most of this and what it’s trying to accomplish. Which is unfortunate as while there are things that bother me with what’s done here I appreciate the way it’s trying to step back just a bit further in regards to the structure of the DC universe and show how it’s shaped more. It fits into that neat inner workings aspect that made Crisis so engaging back in the 80s and revisiting it in different forms in the decades since. This is a fascinating issue with a lot of neat ideas in it, beautifully illustrated as expected, but it still leaves me with that core question; does it matter and will they do anything with it?
Age Rating: 15+
Released By: DC Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: May 29th, 2018