So, they finally did it. After keeping the audience waiting for so long, Doctor Manhattan has finally shown up in Doomsday Clock #7. Honestly, it wasn’t worth the wait.
That isn’t to say that he’s not still impressive and downright scary at times, or that his power has diminished in any way. He’s back to his usual routine, teleporting around and seeing the events of time itself in a skipping narrative. He’s also changed though, and it’s pointed out that he’s tinkered around with events in history as he’s shaped the world to his will, using the DCU like a petrie dish, while his normally imperceptible facial expressions are now easier to read.
Ozymandias, reunited with Rorschach II, continues his quest to find Doctor Manhattan – along with Saturn Girl and Johnny Thunder. Is their presence nothing more than coincidence, or is there a deeper reason for their paths to cross? While the second Rorschach may be sceptical, Ozymandias becomes increasingly convinced that higher forces are at work guiding them. Meanwhile, Marionette and Mime have joined forces with the Joker and begin torturing The Comedian for information. But with all eyes focused on The Comedian, what has become of Batman?
With the world on the verge of war as the Supermen Theory takes hold, the stakes have never been higher. But will the appearance of Doctor Manhattan make a difference? Can he truly save both worlds… or is he trying to destroy them himself?
Sadly, Doctor Manhattan’s big reveal – in the nude, naturally – is turned in to a joke from the Joker that seems incredibly poorly timed, given the dark knight’s own recent nudity scandal (a move many are calling a cheap publicity stunt to boost sales). Worse, one of Doctor Manhattan’s most interesting attributes – that of being powerless in the grand scheme of things, despite his apparent omnipotence – appears to have been forgotten.
Beyond that, this issue’s real problem is that there’s a whole lot of nothing going on. Or rather, so much happens that everything gets in the way of itself and it becomes a chaotic mess. In what way? Well…
Ozymandias, supposedly the smartest man of his world, locates Doctor Manhattan seemingly by a strategy of planning and dumb luck… yet fails to see any big picture; Batman once again becomes little more than a periphery character in his own investigation; Doctor Manhattan cryptically rambles on about several subjects like an unfocused Bond villain; meanwhile, there are some twists that should surprise nobody at all. It’s sloppy work.
There’s plenty of action, intrigue and “shocking revelations”, yet strangely it all feels flat and like it’s just going through the motions. There’s no emotional core for readers to latch on to, making it hard to remember or care about… well, whatever this story was meant to be about in the first place. Instead, we get the image of a sexually excited Joker grabbing his flamethrower between his legs, gushing forth a jet of burning napalm as he does a pelvic thrust. Thanks for that, DC. I’ll have nightmares for a year.
Again, it has to be said that this is only a single part of the big story and maybe, in the long run, it’ll come across better. The art is still top-notch, and Geoff Johns does a mostly fair job of copying Alan Moore’s writing style while still bringing his own unique contributions to the story. For those who have been enjoying this series so far there’s a lot here that’s good, or at least interesting. In fact, on a second read, this issue is better than it first appears.
Yet it’s still unimpressive and feels cluttered. After such a slow build-up to this stage, this issue throws everything at the reader at once in a jumbled, clumsy attempt at moving things forward. With each disappointing instalment, Doomsday Clock is looking average at best and a dud at worst.
Doomsday Clock #7
A cluttered issue that loses the plot.