Doctor Manhattan waits for Superman.
Having defeated the combined forces of the world’s superheroes effortlessly, all he can do now is… wait. But why is Superman so important to him? As Doctor Manhattan bides his time, he reflects on the events that brought him to this universe and the significance of all he has witnessed. Seeing worlds live and worlds die over the years, crisis after crisis, and the impact that it has all had on the universe, he believes that he has learned he truth of it all: that the history of the universe depends on Superman.
But has he seen too much, and do his conclusions validate his own actions? And has he also learned the deeper truth about himself?
Doomsday Clock #10 has finally arrived, and it’s got something massively important to say: Superman is the absolute foundation of all superhero comic books.
Got that? Good. Because that’s exactly the point that this issue makes. Repeatedly. And as much as that fact may seem obvious, it’s not a bad thing to be reminded of that fact.
Yes, if you’ve been a regular comic book reader for longer than five minutes then you’ll probably be aware of Superman’s importance already – and how every DC reboot has to begin with the Man of Steel. But let’s pretend you didn’t know, or lived your whole life under a rock and never read a comic book in your life before Doomsday Clock… well, if that’s the case then you’d be as mystified as Doctor Manhattan is upon entering the main DC Universe.
This primary focus of Doomsday Clock #10 is how Doctor Manhattan came to understand the DCU and what makes it tick since he first arrived there. Given that he’s Doctor Manhattan, his abilities have allowed him to see a far bigger picture – one that’s a parallel to comic book readers themselves. Seeing the past, present and future of the primary DCU in its entirety means that he also bears witness to all the reboots over the years, which are elegantly displayed throughout the issue with brief glimpses of each.
The significance of this and what it all means will probably vary depending on each reader’s own knowledge of DC over the years. For those who are casual fans, it may mean little; for veterans who have witnessed everything from the Golden Age and the first Crisis to Hypertime and the New Fifty-Two-Niverse, it should mean a lot. Manhattan’s metatextual exposition and potentially eye-opening revelations balance (and contrast) with a combination of feel-good recaps of the DCU’s various histories in an intelligent and creative way.
But is Doomsday Clock #10 really that good or as smart as it seems to think it is?
While the artwork isn’t quite of the typical high standards of earlier issues, it’s the writing that’s particularly uneven. This issue doesn’t quite deliver on the high-concept premise it’s promoting. It may offer some creative ideas regarding DC’s history, in particular its history over the past 35 years – revolutionary for DC – but it’s been done before by others, if not this obviously. Meanwhile, Doctor Manhattan’s tale may be intended to mirror Ozymandias’s from Watchmen, but it lacks punch at times and he’s reduced to little more than a self-aware piece of furniture. He isn’t all that different from others while presumably symbolizing something far more personal, yet he also exudes clichés.
Strangely, little of that matters.
Regardless of whether Doomsday Clock #10 is attempting to be too smarter than it actually is, there’s a whole lot more to it than that. It’s one of the better issues of Doomsday Clock even if it’s a frustratingly obvious one. More than that is how there’s a very strong upside to all this: what it could represent for DC Comics moving forward. This issue is solid enough in its own right, and as a part of the bigger series too, while also offering the brightest hope for the future since Rebirth began.
If you’re a die-hard fan of DC, then Doomsday Clock #10 may be just what you wanted.
Doomsday Clock #10
Frustrating, obvious… but a solid piece of work