The global political crisis reaches a tipping point. Metahumans begin to draw their own battle lines, while public trust in them has fallen apart. With Russia demanding that Superman be held accountable for his actions with Firestorm, the United States looks set to lose its greatest line of defence.
Watching over everything is Ozymandias, who has manipulated events to serve his own purpose, and Doctor Manhattan, who appears to have become obsessed with his confrontation with Superman. As Batman races against the clock to uncover the truth with the assistance of the new Rorschach, Lex Luthor reveals his own investigation to Lois Lane…
Blah blah blah, exposition, exposition, clumsy metaphor, blah blah.
I’m sorry for starting this review in such a flippant and juvenile way. However, occasionally there’s such a massive wall of blather in comics to get past that it needs to be called out for what it is. Because that’s exactly what Doomsday Clock #11, DC’s increasingly delayed and lacklustre series, offers its readers. Which isn’t to say it’s all bad – it just feels that way sometimes.
First of all, though, let’s look at the positives.
Gary Frank’s work on Doomsday Clock is truly stunning. When this series finally finishes (which could be any time within the next twenty years, at the current publishing rate) it’ll be the artwork which people will remember most fondly. It’s practically worth the cost alone, and no amount of praise seems enough.
Then, there’s Geoff Johns’ writing. That may seem like a contradiction, given how this review started, but elements of story and plot are creative and interesting and the pacing builds nicely. The execution of it may be woeful, but the man has good ideas and deserves credit for them.
And that’s the real crux of the matter.
This story, for all its high ambitions, falls apart here as it heads towards its grand finale. Characters who seemed so pivotal early on are now little more than inconvenient cyphers, the politics has become muddied and bland, and establishing any sort of cohesion in the bloated plot has become a matter of no show and all tell. For all the intriguing concepts being offered, Doomsday Clock now looks like a Sisyphean task that’s far too much for Geoff Johns to handle.
Interestingly, a great deal of this is paralleled by Ozymandias and his actions in this issue. Ozymandias has devolved from being the world’s smartest man to the dumbest, and having made several mistakes he appears to have learned nothing from them. Instead, he’s cobbled together the scraps of a nonsensical plan which he assumes is brilliant but clearly isn’t. Does that sound familiar?
Now, it’s possible to view this as being a metaphorical mea culpa from DC for their infamous “disconnect” over the past several years, and their increasingly hollow attempts at fixing it, but it can be just as easily viewed as symbolic of the series itself. The final quote by James Joyce which caps off this issue, speaks of being unafraid to make mistakes… a statement both commending the bravery to take chances, but acknowledges that colossal mistakes can be made. And that’s how this issue reads:
A mistake. Unafraid, like this series in general, but still a mistake.
This series has achieved the unthinkable just by existing, and DC has been quick to tout it as being “critically acclaimed”, despite the obvious caveat which every fan is greatly aware of. It has an impossible legacy to live up to, but it’s been unafraid and it’s tried so hard. But this issue exposes so many of its flaws and demonstrates how badly it’s coming up short.
Doomsday Clock #11 does have its highlights and the art is gorgeous. If you’ve been following this series then it’s essential, and there truly are a couple of tiny gold nuggets buried in this steaming pile of exposition. But at its core, it’s a weak, long-winded issue with one-dimensional characters, full of waffle which simply doesn’t hold up. After such a long delay, you’d imagine it would be better… or at least good. Sadly, it isn’t.
Doomsday Clock #11
If you like long-winded, overstuffed exposition, then you’ll love this!