This opinion may surprise a lot of people, but Doomsday Clock #5 isn’t bad.
That’s by no means an endorsement, and there are still serious flaws with the story itself, but from a writing standpoint this issue did a decent job of encompassing the world it’s taking place in. More impressively, it had just enough dramatic moments to please even the most jaded long-term comic book readers out there. Plus there’s the artwork, which still remains the best feature of this series. This time around, Gary Frank’s art is absolutely superb and this is easily the best work he’s done so far.
There are still drawbacks in Doomsday Clock #5, of course.
After his brutal fight against the Comedian, Adrian Veidt – Ozymandias – recovers in hospital under police custody. Yet for the alleged smartest man of his own world, escape is easy and he soon returns to the hidden Owlship. However, a meeting with Batman soon becomes hostile as they discuss the fate of both their worlds and the escalating public distrust of metahumans.
Meanwhile, as Lois Lane continues to try and piece together the mystery of the Supermen Theory, Lex Luthor appears to have some of the answers and Johnny Thunder begins a quest of his own. And while Rorschach and Saturn Girl make plans, Mime and Marionette seek out the Joker in the most extreme fashion possible…
As stated, the story itself seems more forced than flowing and there’s almost no sense of subtlety to it. Likewise, many of the characters come across more as one-dimensional versions of how they should be. While in the case of Batman that can arguably be a good thing, it’s still enough to possibly leave some readers dissatisfied.
Then there’s the mystery itself. At this point, it’s hard to care about Doctor Manhattan’s disappearance and presumed role in the tale and it’s looking almost like a McGuffin. Presumably, it isn’t, but that’s how it seems. The concepts of public distrust and, in particular, the Supermen Theory are solid and the latter is an intriguing idea, but they’re displayed in such a heavy-handed nature that it becomes counter-productive.
But enough of the complaints. It’s fair to say that there’s a little more good than bad going on here, even if Doomsday Clock #5 is an unsatisfying and uneven read. For all the superhero, supervillain and vigilante activity, and for all the end-of-the-world angst, the three best moments in this issue are those which are the most human.
The first goes to Lois Lane and Perry White, debating the altering of a headline; the second goes to Firestorm and his hilarious comments – and it’s also about damn time that somebody realized the similar nature of himself, Captain Atom and Doctor Manhattan; the third, and most important, being the tragic tale of Johnny Thunder. Like with JSA: The Golden Age, and throughout his entire history in comic books, his importance both in DC lore and in this story is overlooked.
As the old saying goes, people who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like, and people who don’t simply won’t. This series still has a long way to go before it convinces the readers, but at least Doomsday Clock #5 holds some promise that it still can.