By Aiyonna White, Contributor
The second issue of the Doomsday Clock series is an exciting continuation that will shock and entertain readers.
The Doomsday Clock series is a twelve-issue event taking place one year in the future of DCU’s continuity, with the goal of tying the popular Watchmen franchise to the canonical DC universe. During DC’s Rebirth event and throughout the subsequent comics there has several references to a shift in time and a higher power controlling the lives of our favorite DC characters. The reigning theory is that Dr. Manhattan created the DC universe and is responsible for the return of missing characters (we missed you Wally West!) and general shenanigans in Rebirth, like The Comedian’s pin in the Batcave.
If you haven’t read the Watchmen comics, please please please do so. An understanding of the original comic is necessary to read Doomsday Clock, and it is considered the best graphic novel of all time with good reason.
As a very condensed summary of the first issue, we are introduced to a new Rorschach, who teams up with an Ozymandias who has fallen from grace. Along with two villains
Marionette and Mime, Ozymandias intends to contact Dr. Manhattan in order to save their world which has descended into complete chaos and nuclear war. The issue ends in the DCU, where Superman is awakened by his first nightmare. Spooky, right?
In Issue #2, Ozymandias plays a tape of the bank robbery that put Mime and Marionette in the high security prison they were broken out of. The situation is reminiscent of a Harley Quinn and Joker heist. Marionette cuts off a man’s finger only to discover that he needs it to open the money vault. There’s the thing: this series is funny, where Watchmen was not at all. I don’t remember laughing while reading Watchmen; I remember that I took a year to finish because I kept setting the comic down to let whatever horrific discovery settle in. Meanwhile, every few pages Doomsday Clock had me pausing appreciate the humor (not that this issue isn’t full of surprises!). I particularly love the Mime’s imaginary weapons that still manage to work.
Dr. Manhattan arrives to stop the robbery but doesn’t vaporize the villains because he knows Marionette is pregnant. Ozymandias thinks she and Dr. Manhattan have history, as it is not in his character to spare a life. The whole plot regarding Marionette and Mime is based on the false assumption that Marionette means something to Manhattan. Such an oversight from the supposed smartest man on Earth displays just how desperate Ozymandias has become.
Ozymandias with Marionette, Mime, and Rorschach use Nite-Owl’s Owlship “Archie” to follow Dr. Manhattan’s electron trail, which leads them to the DCU. We are introduced to Bruce Wayne in a meeting with a psychologist he is not taking seriously, as per his “Bruce Wayne” persona. Lucius Fox notes that the reason Wayne has to take the exam is that he failed a psych evaluation seven years ago and his shareholders no longer trust him to run the company. Seven years is the amount of time in-universe between the events of Watchmen and Doomsday Clock. Events in the DCU mirror Watchmen’s universe, with large groups of protesters in Gotham opposing the Batman as protesters in New York opposed Ozymandias. “The Superman Theory” has lead people to distrust Batman, and possibly all masked heroes. Sound familiar?
Archie crash lands in Gotham, at a rundown amusement park that looks suspiciously like the park in another influential Alan Moore work, The Killing Joke. Rorschach and Ozymandias contact Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne, the two smartest people on the planet for help locating Dr. Manhattan, who they’ve theorized could be hiding out as one of the many superheroes in the DCU.
Rorschach sneaks into the Batcave and notes that Bruce Wayne must be a monster to be so obsessive. Lex Luthor and Ozymandias meet and engage in entertaining banter before The Comedian shows up searching for revenge. This is the big shock of the issue, as The Comedian’s death at the hands of Ozymandias is the opening scene of the Watchmen comic. I have no idea how The Comedian is alive and in the alternate universe. I literally cannot guess. Perhaps Dr. Manhattan brought him back to life and lead him to Ozymandias for the drama of it all, but that doesn’t fit the character. The issue ends with Rorschach and Batman meeting in the Batcave.
This issue was a lot of fun and had a lot of meaningful subtext for longtime fans of DC. The parallels between Rorschach and Batman, the references to The Killing Joke as well as lesser known characters
make this an issue that would benefit from multiple readings, as this series promises to be.
I cannot overstate how excited I am about this series. I was suspicious of a Watchmen sequel not written by Alan Moore, but Geoff Johns is paying excellent homage to the characters and energy of the original comic.