After two promising issues, Doomsday Clock takes its first real steps into the mainstream DC Universe… and falls down almost instantly. There’s still hope for this storyline, but Geoff Johns really needs to do a whole lot better.
While the art is still a treat, the pacing seems off and the panels don’t flow as smoothly as they should, especially in scene transitions. However, it’s hard to lay blame on Gary Frank, who’s been doing a stunning job so far. Instead, the problems have to be attributed to Geoff Johns’ script, which is clunky, unimpressive and appears devoid of any sense of purpose. While it’s almost a certainty that the Doomsday Clock series is building to something big on the horizon, it doesn’t feel that way in this issue.
In Metropolis, Adrian Veidt – the smartest man of his own world also known as Ozymandias – battles against The Comedian, despite having apparently killed him years before. However, this time their fight is more equal, with The Comedian having the element of surprise on his side. Meanwhile, in Gotham, the new Rorschach persuades Batman to read the journal of Walter Kovacs, which details the conspiracy of events that led to the original Rorschach’s death.
As more details emerge regarding The Comedian’s arrival in this new world of superpowered beings, society, in general, is becoming increasingly fearful of metahumans and a new superpowered arms race is on the rise. While Batman agrees to help Rorschach in tracking down Doctor Manhattan, Mime and Marionette stumble upon one of the Joker’s lairs and leave a path of death in their wake. But can Batman be trusted, and what of the ageing Johnny Thunder, who tragically waits for his family’s return?
Rather than laying more foundations in deliberately-paced plotting that sucks readers in, instead it drags from one boring scene to the next. Doomsday Clock #3 tries throwing in unconvincing set-pieces, alternate narrative arcs, a fight scene, and even a few light moments of comedy… but ultimately none of them has any real punch behind them. They’re distractions, and while they may still entertain some readers they don’t make for a great issue. The fight between Ozymandias and The Comedian is too slow, weighed down by a sense of ironic self-importance that isn’t deserved. A glimpse into the new Rorschach’s origin is meant to be terrifying, tragic and impressive, but instead feels underwhelming.
Once again, a highlight has to be Mime and Marionette’s scene. However, this series is becoming over-reliant on them carrying the story, and even the concept of them crossing paths in some way with the Joker is almost painfully predictable. Hopefully there will be something more creative on the cards in future issues.
As stated back in the review of the first issue, it’s simultaneously unfair and yet also completely justified to compare this to the original Watchmen. It isn’t Watchmen and never will be, and should be judged on its own merits; Yet by those same standards, if it’s going to model itself on Watchmen and trade on the goodwill of its long-suffering fans, then it needs to do it justice and prepare to be measured by that yardstick. As its own independent creation this issue is sadly lacklustre, and by Watchmen standards it falls short even further. It isn’t even at the same level as Robinson and Smith’s highly underrated The Golden Age, and that’s a bad sign.
It’s impossible to truly recommend Doomsday Clock #3 as it stands, and only in time will anybody be able to tell if this is the moment where this whole series succeeds or fails.