Doomsday Clock #1 Review

Posted November 20, 2017 by Jean-Luc Botbyl in Comic Books

Written by: Geoff Johns

Art by: Gary Frank and Brad Anderson

Published by: DC Comics

Reading Doomsday Clock, I felt an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. Everything from the layouts to the font of the monologue felt familiar. I couldn’t shake this feeling until I put the book down. To anyone in the loop, it should be obvious why. Clearly, the creative team of Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson has spent time studying the craft of Watchmen, to pay tribute to and replicate Alan Moore’s classic.

If that were the sole goal of Doomsday Clock, the trio have succeeded. From the timely, on the nose social commentary to the grimy feel of the world, they have emulated Watchmen. But it feels hollow. Where Moore and Gibbons presented a slow-moving, introspective argument about superheroes, Johns and Frank… well, they set up a superhero event, but without the usual sense of excitement.

What they fail to do is justify the use of Watchmen’s world and characters. Like so many other contemporary works, Doomsday Clock reads like a soulless cash grab, preying on people’s love for a superior work. And, similarly to every other ‘80’s nostalgia trip on the market, it manages to be both incredibly competent and mind-numbingly bland.

Simply put, Doomsday Clock has no discernible ethos. I couldn’t tell you what the point of the thing is, really. It feels meaningless, and fails to justify the use of Moore’s universe and characters. Despite a few reveals, it doesn’t do anything new with the source material. It’s awfully good at replicating it, and awfully bad at doing anything interesting with it.

All that said, I didn’t hate this issue. Gary Frank’s art is fantastic as always. Any time he draws interiors, it’s a treat. His characters are expressive, and the action is fun enough to watch unfold, despite the gratuitous violence. Combined with Brad Anderson’s colors, the book creates a beautiful, dirty aesthetic. Again, though, it’s tainted by simply replicating the work of Dave Gibbons and John Higgins without sufficiently adding to it.

I briefly mentioned it, but I think the gratuitous nature of Doomsday Clock’s subject matter is worth discussing a little more. Johns, Frank, and Anderson craft a world on the brink with this issue. In doing so, the issue is packed with a bunch of edge-lord nonsense inserted in such a way that has no real bearing on the narrative. I’m all for showing and not telling, but a couple scenes in this issue feel like little more than shock value.

Ultimately, I was just bored with Doomsday Clock, and that is not a good sign for DC’s second big event. These are supposed to be exciting, but there’s nothing compelling about diving back into the Watchmen universe for no reason aside from DC happening to own the property and wanting to eek as many dollars out of it as they can.

About the Author

Jean-Luc Botbyl

Jean-Luc is a grizzled veteran of We the Nerdy. Most days, he just wonders why he hasn't been formally fired. Follow him on Twitter at @J_LFett to make him feel validated.