It is March 6th 2019, and I am finally reviewing Doomsday Clock #9.
It is an overdue comic book in a series that has suffered from many delays. So far, the series has looked fantastic even if the storytelling has mostly failed to deliver. However, I’ve still been intrigued enough to want to read more. After waiting for so long, I should be happy.
Instead, I’m disappointed.
After the recent incident in Moscow that left Superman injured, Doctor Manhattan struggles to see the timeline of events in the past, present and future. Meanwhile, an army of superheroes race to Mars to confront him – either to gain answers or to battle against him. But as the heroes gather, Batman – a world away from them – believes that they’re being played and that there’s more going on than they understand. While he races against time to send them a warning message, the rest of the world makes it clear that they no longer want metahumans to exist amongst them.
With a war looming on Mars, can the combined might of the superheroes possibly defeat a being who may have shaped their world’s entire existence? And with events spiralling out of control, the motives of old enemies and trusted friends come in to question. Who can the heroes trust anymore, and can the damage to their world possibly be undone?
Despite my complaints about all the delays, I know that what really matters at the end of the day is whether it’s good. And to be fair, it is good. It’s an old-fashioned slice of Crisis-level “event” hullabaloo as all the heroes gather and combine their forces for an onslaught against the most impotent all-powerful being in comic book history. Seeing all those various characters gathered together, so many fan-favourites, it’s a fantastic sight to see. It also helps that there’s some fun banter being uttered, while the confrontation is amped up by Batman struggling to warn the heroes in a ticking clock scenario. Meanwhile, it’s all intercut with some plot-building work going on with Lex Luthor and Lois Lane, along with Firestorm.
So why the disappointment?
One of the problems with Doomsday Clock #9 is that it’s painfully predictable. The whole battle, while an impressive sight, is exactly that and nothing more. It’s a visual spectacle that achieves very little. Readers have seen it countless times before, and even if the execution of it is good it’s also mostly just eye candy. Glorious, spectacular… eye candy. Guy Gardner takes a moment to compare Doctor Manhattan to all the overpowered villains they’ve fought over the years – a wonderful moment of reference that will have readers edgy because they know Doctor Manhattan is a whole lot more than that. But even if this is meant to be a contrast while paying homage, Manhattan is reduced to being exactly like them and the writing doesn’t allow this issue to be anything more.
The real intrigue here is what’s happening on a character level, some of it away from the fight. Sadly, there simply isn’t enough of it. Again the writing lets the story down, as the plot-building is presented in a humdrum fashion. There are clues to be explored and characters to be focused on to expand the big picture but, instead, readers get a fight scene. It was inevitable that the sort of confrontation presented in Doomsday Clock #9 had to occur, but it’s unfortunate that it had to happen now and in this fashion. The pacing feels completely off, and maybe when this series is finished and collected in a trade it’ll read differently – the delays in the release schedule certainly haven’t helped it – but as it stands here it’s missing the mark.
As stated, there really is a lot to recommend about this. Gary Frank’s art is stunning, the fight is impressive, the array of heroes covers all the bases, and this is just what many fans will have been waiting for. Some of the reveals and references make for curious reading, and the characters are handled with real skill. If anything, Doomsday Clock #9 is bound to please a majority of readers. But if you’re hoping for a groundbreaking issue that moves the plot forward, you may be disappointed.
Doomsday Clock #9
A spectacular fight scene, but limited plot development.