Doomsday Clock #2 is an issue of two halves.
The first half is rather formulaic, containing a little backstory regarding newcomers Marionette and Mime, as well as the sort of last-second-escape/characters-entering-a-new-world thing that most comic book readers and TV/movie viewers have probably seen countless times. In that regard, it isn’t exactly breaking new ground, and you’d be forgiven for finding it a bit of a cliché. However, it’s well presented, and the Mime and Marionette part in particular is superb. So basically, it’s a cliché but it’s done really, really well.
The other half is more original, as we’re thrown in the deep end regarding the current state of corporate and political chaos in this version of the DCU. If someone’s coming into this with no knowledge of DC’s history (past and present) then the big picture may look blurred right from the start. The pressure of Bruce Wayne’s latest predicament weighs heavily, while Lex Luthor… well, he’s Lex Luthor. It’s fresh, intriguing… and sadly feels rather boring.
In Doomsday Clock #2, the world is on the brink of nuclear destruction.
Ozymandias, the world’s smartest man, desperately races against time to modify Archie the Owlship enough so that it can breach the fabric of reality. His plan is to transport himself and his team – the new Rorschach, Mime and Marionette – to an alternate Earth, one which appears to have been created by Doctor Manhattan. Already in an uneasy alliance, their task upon arrival is made even more difficult when they discover what this new Earth is like.
While it resembles their own in some ways, in others it’s completely different… and it’s being torn apart by a new wave of public distrust against the metahuman community. While Rorschach is tasked with contacting Bruce Wayne, Ozymandias is determined to meet with Lex Luthor. But what each of them finds is the last thing they were expecting, while Mime and Marionette are already making plans of their own…
So, what do you get when it’s all put together? Well, it’s an uneven and slow-moving issue full of fascinating ideas, creative concepts, pretentious imagery, and mostly predictable storytelling. Yet the positives outweigh the negatives overall, which makes it impressive in spite of itself. The writing from Geoff Johns, while not always working, still makes enough of an impact to be successful and he’s playing the larger plot points close to his chest, revealing very little.
It’s a tricky game to play, since at least the original Watchmen series had the murder mystery conspiracy and fascinating characters to keep the audience’s attention until the full scope of the plot became apparent. This issue (and the series so far) doesn’t, and at times it almost resembles the half-assed 1999 series The Kingdom. So far it’s keeping itself on track though, and still raises enough curiosity to keep readers’ attention.
The real highlight of Doomsday Clock #2, however, has to be Gary Frank’s art. This issue looks better than just about anything else on the shelves today, offering crisp, clearly defined visuals as good as the works of Jim Aparo, Neal Adams and Dave Gibbons. While the first issue of the series may not have quite cracked that level, this one certainly does and Frank deserves maximum credit.
Doomsday Clock #2 won’t be for everybody and, on the whole, it does have some flaws, but it’s a solid issue which just about manages to live up to the hype and reader expectations… although it’s still got a long way to go.