The moment has arrived. In Doomsday Clock #12, Superman finally confronts Doctor Manhattan, the being who has played god and changed the Man of Steel’s very existence. As the world moves to the brink of global annihilation, and with super-powered beings from every nation poised to enter the conflict, it appears that nothing can stop the oncoming chaos and destruction.
However, as Superman battles on, the second Rorschach is once again recruited to play his part in the bigger picture. Meanwhile, Batman, Lex Luthor and Ozymandias all plan for the inevitable end – but is it already too late? And what part can the Comedian, Mime and Marionette play in saving the world?
Well, at least it’s finally over. And you know what? Doomsday Clock #12 was actually one of the best issues of any comic book in recent memory. Which, unfortunately, isn’t to say that it didn’t have some serious problems.
But let’s look at the positives first, because they’re absolutely fantastic. For the first time in a long time, I actually gasped out loud at some of the statements being made, and some of the dialogue was truly inspired. When Geoff Johns is on form, the man knows how to tap in to essence of what makes DC’s legendary characters so special and tell a great story – and in Doomsday Clock #12, he absolutely hits the mark. While Superman seems to do very little, he’s the complete embodiment of hope in the DCU, just as he should be, and the story reflects that brilliantly.
The story itself, while playing out in possible the most obvious way there is, hits every beat perfectly and flows smoothly. DC’s finest heroes make their appearance in waves, culminating in a crescendo which should fill every reader, new and old, with a sense of triumph and joy. A sense of optimism practically screams out from every page of Doomsday Clock #12, while on a deeper level explaining why some mis-steps were made over the years. It reassures fans that everything has always served a greater good, and that anything broken can be fixed. Although, perhaps, saying sorry again would have helped too.
There’s plenty that’s said about the current society around us, the kind of world we live in. From red-capped, thinly-veiled racism and closed-minded bigotry to the increasing political divides between us, there’s plenty being said here. Thankfully, the idea that an immigrant from another world can still inspire and help others, who in turn then help even more, is still valid. If the DCU can be made a better place, then maybe our own world can be too.
Plus, there’s easily one of the greatest moments ever for Alfred. It kind of makes you wonder why anybody would consider getting rid of a character that awesome.
Of course, there’s a downside to all of this.
Notably, it’s unfortunate that some major aspects of the storyline simply peter out. Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Ozymandias, Batman, Rorschach II and others barely get a glance in; when they do, any importance they were seemingly meant to play in the big picture is practically brushed aside as an afterthought. While this issue plays for emotional impact – and successfully, it has to be said – in terms of great overall storytelling the result is a hot mess. Nobody, other than Superman, comes off looking good as a result of this… and in his case, that’s only because of what he symbolizes.
Seriously, what was the actual point of this entire series other than to deliver this finale? While Doomsday Clock #12 truly is special, it also further exposes the shallowness and weak storytelling of the series as a whole. Despite all the high notes being presented, the idea that readers have been watching a story play out for almost four years now that essentially does little different from Zero Hour is disappointing. It relies on just another deus ex machina to get the job done, and a contradictory one which sacrifices the Watchmen legacy in the process.
Also, in an eerie parallel to another recent Watchmen spin-off, this comic doesn’t know when to shut up. For all the aimless characters, dangling plot threads and untapped potential, Doomsday Clock #12 instead bypasses so much. Rather, it uses its generous page count to ramble on a bit too long, excessively driving its message home to a level where it loses its charm. It also paves the way for further sequels, practically inviting them, and urging readers to stay tuned. To squander the goodwill gained with readers up to that point on what could be interpreted as a series of promos, as opposed to an actual conclusion, feels cheap.
So, with most of the negatives now out of the way, the important part is that as an individual issue this was great. The writing was impressive, the art even more so (barring a few curiously rushed-looking panels) and it was a great ending to what’s been a sadly lackluster series. Credit where it’s due here, this is a fantastic piece of work and the ramifications for the DCU could be huge… assuming DC even chooses to acknowledge it fully.
After a series of increasingly ridiculous delays, Doomsday Clock is finally over. It’s an apology that’s better late than never, and it’s one worth paying attention to. Whether it’s accepted though, that’s up to the readers to decide.
Doomsday Clock #12
A fantastic finale that should have quit while it was ahead.