Random Thoughts On DOOMSDAY CLOCK

DC’s December solicitations came out over the last few days and, with little fanfare, they included the write up for the final issue of DOOMSDAY CLOCK, the Geoff Johns and Gary Frank follow up to WATCHMEN which, by and large, has been greeted favourably.

As we probably all know by now, DOOMSDAY CLOCK launched in November 2017 and was meant to take a year to be released. Early promotional interviews revealed it was set a year into the future of the DCU so that, by the time it finished, the rest of the DCU would be at the same point as DOOMSDAY CLOCK‘s finale.

Scheduling problems mean that it’s now two years since the start of the series and, during that time, so many things have come in to play that I can’t help thinking that once finished, DOOMSDAY CLOCK will have next to no impact on the main DCU.

One of the threads running through the story is the Superman Theory – a conspiracy theory that says the American government is responsible for the creation (and thus controls) the superheroes. As a consequence, the public distrust them and superpowered beings are heading to Khandaq, the last refuge for them.

In recent issues, Superman has been blamed for the deaths of dozens of Russian soldiers and Firestorm appears to have exploded in the same confrontation. American citizens are rioting in multiple cities, demanding the fall of Superman and other heroes.

None of the above is being mentioned in any other DCU series – everyone’s either ignoring the deaths of multiple characters in the horrible HEROES IN CRISIS; running around trying to work out who Leviathan is; fighting with characters from the Dark Multiverse; or are too busy dealing with the ramifications of UNDERWORLD UNLEASHED Year of the Villain where Neron Lex Luthor is offering the bad guys new powers.

And speaking of Luthor, he plays a small but important part in DOOMSDAY CLOCK which gives lie to the original idea that the rest of the DCU would connect to it. Here’s how the character appears in DOOMSDAY CLOCK and current issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE:

As the Justice League storyline of Justice/Doom War is only just getting underway and is due to run well in to next year, there’s no way Lex is suddenly going to transform from the “apex predator” version of himself on the right to the standard Lex we all love to hate on the left.

DOOMSDAY CLOCK looked to be set to return the Justice Society of America to the DCU, a team that’s been missing since the New 52 was instigated in 2011; it was also bringing back the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Both teams have now been reintroduced in other titles – the JSA in JUSTICE LEAGUE and the Legion in their own, forthcoming title, making the reveal and tease of them in DOOMSDAY CLOCK now redundant.

I can’t help but wonder if some of the publishing problems the series has had is down to DC editorial saying to Johns and Frank – “You know those plans you had bring back the Legion and the JSA? Bendis and Snyder want to play with them, so can you alter your story?” – forcing them to re-jig some elements. It would sort of explain why Saturn Girl, teased as an important player in the story, is basically taken off the board in an almost throwaway moment:

There’s no way the DCU is going to reflect the DCU shown in the pages of DOOMSDAY CLOCK; there’s been no hint that any other title is going to tie in to this world – it’s basically being ignored.

Sad to say, as good as DOOMSDAY CLOCK is (and it is good) I can see it being consigned to a self-contained story, perhaps shunted off to one of the unknown Earths from Grant Morrison’s MULTIVERSITY, a way of saying “Wasn’t that a great story? Now, on with the rest of the DCU…”

While Geoff Johns was once the golden boy at DC, in the time he was away dealing with film and TV, Brian Michael Bendis has come in and taken over the Superman line; Scott Snyder is running the Justice League; and REBIRTH has been quietly moved to one side, and the DCU has become a lot darker since.

In an interview before the series began, Johns said:

[DOOMSDAY CLOCK] will have an impact on the entire DC Universe. It will affect everything moving forward and everything that has come before.

I really doubt that’s going to come to pass now.

Sunday Reviews

Away last weekend so no reviews; back now, though.

FREEDOM FIGHTERS #7

The Fighters hold out with a sympathetic family but they’re betrayed by the father who calls for the Plasstic Men. Phantom Lady manages to kill a number of the rubbery Gestapo types, allowing the Fighters to escape but, unknown to them, one of the Plasstic Men has disguised himself as Doll Woman and is now embedded in the team.

Another solid issue, thankfully unencumbered by the ongoing Year of the Villain event that’s being shoe-horned into almost every other DC title at the moment.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #13

Kent Nelson tells of the origin of Dr Fate and Nabu and how, after everything Nabu made him do over the years, he’ll never become Dr Fate again, nor will Khalid Nassour. Zatanna confronts John Constantine about his part in her father’s grand plan and doesn’t much like the answers. And as the Year of the Villain event rolls on, Lex Luthor turns up to ask Circe to set up an Injustice League Dark.

Another good issue although I missed the pencils of Alvaro Martinez Bueno; I only hope he’s taking a rest and will be back soon.

THE TERRIFICS #18

As some of the team gather up the mini-Plastic Men that represent Eel’s sins before forcing him to reintegrate, Mr Terrific manages to get in to the Noosphere and strike a deal, a result that Ms Terrific isn’t happy with, ending in her breaking off any chance of a romantic hook-up between them. At the end, Lex Luthor manages to send one of his probes to Earth-29 where he recruits Bizarro to destry the Terrifics.

Not a bad issue, though the ethical dilemma of what Mr Terrific has done doesn’t get enough room to breathe here, making Ms Terrific’s unhappiness seem a little out of place.

A WALK THROUGH HELL #12

Garth Ennis’s horror story comes to an end with a final issue that is as horrible, nihilistic and inevitable as you’d imagine. There’s commentary about the world today, and America in particular, but over and above that, there’s a grim indictment of humanity as a whole. We’re all screwed, Ennis’s characters say, and it’s all our fault. I mentioned last month that I was expecting “something dark and nihilistic” and I wasn’t wrong.

This has been an excellent series and ends in the only way possible, as much as you might not like it.

WARLORD OF MARS ATTACKS #2

The Moonheads from Mars continue their attack on Earth while Dr Norman and his compatriots head to an abandoned mine where Norma reveals all – he’s the great grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs and everything Burroughs wrote about John Carter of Mars was true. He explains a theory about the quantum state of Mars, how when viewed from one vantage point it’s a lifeless planet, but when viewed from another – as John Carter had – the place was full of civilisations. Norman had created the Insight Lander that landed on Mars in the previous issue to show the world the wonders of Barsoom . . . but found the Moonheads instead. And, finally, he reveals the body of John Carter in the mine as well, just waiting for the right time to wake up . . . which happens to be at the end of the issue, saving Norman and the others from the Moonheads.

It’s silly and fun and rattles along at a good pace. Still happy I took a punt on this.

Sunday Reviews

Sure, there’s only three books in the picture, but it was a bumper week:

BIRTHRIGHT #36

Captured by the government, Mikey and his family learn the truth about how much the world really knows about magic and how it’s preparing for the inevitable clash between our world and that of Terrenos. And with the last page reveal, it seems that clash is coming a lot sooner than anyone thought.

Consistently one of the best looking comics I’ve ever read – and with the same team on it since day one which, these days, is kind of rare – BIRTHRIGHT takes a change of direction this issue, keeping things fresh but still in line with what’s gone before.

BLACK HAMMER ’45 #4

The mission comes to an end for the Black Hammer Squadron as enemies are confronted, civilians rescued and sacrifices made.

From one of the best looking comics to one of the worst. I think I’ve mentioned in each review of this series just how much the art of Matt Kindt doesn’t work for me. Maybe they were trying to evoke a simpler time? Maybe, but for me it just looks childish. Story-wise, then ending’s no real surprise and, maybe because of the art, it felt like something of a disappointment to me.

GREEN LANTERN #8

Green Lantern crashes at Green Arrow’s house and quickly gets involved in a case involving aliens trafficking in souls and giant extra-dimensional beings. All the while, there’s a hitman who’s been hired to wipe out the entire Earth.

This issue is clearly Grant Morrison having fun with some wacky Silver Age nonsense that nobody but him remembers, but for me it didn’t really work. Less because of the inclusion of Xeen Arrow, but more because of the relationship between Arrow and Lantern; Morrison is clearly playing in a sandbox where the 60s and 70s stories happened, Hal and Ollie are old friends who did the tour of America and became relevant for a while, and Ollie at least is easily in his 40s. And all of that jars with the current timeline. This issue felt like fan fiction where Morrison has a story to tell and to hell with anything else that’s happened between 1958 and now. I’ve enjoyed this series up till now, but this issue . . . not so much.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #25

The League fight back against the World Forger and his League led by their own Batman who, it turns out, gave Superman a way out of his prison just in time to get him back to the League in order to defeat the Forger. Striking a deal with the Forger, the League take him back to Earth where they find they’re too late – Luthor and his Legion of Doom saved the world and have made an offer to the villains of the world, giving them whatever they need to take over the world.

This issue’s big and bombastic – Superman’s return is handled really well – but it mostly feels like padding. Sure, there’s mention of the Source Wall collapsing and the Multiverse rushing towards it’s doom, but it just feels like set-up for the Underworld Unleashed Forever Evil Year of the Villain event that’s coming up in the next few months. Still, the art looks nice.

LADY MECHANIKA: SANGRE #1

After a flashback to 500 years ago in Mexico, we’re back with Lady Mechanika who has been called to Spain to help solve the case of a seemingly possessed young man, Alejandro, who’s parents have wildly different ways of dealing with the situation. His overbearing father Pedro is insistent that the church can save Alejandro, while Leonora, his mother, has called in Lady Mechanika. After speaking with the house servants, Mechanika doubts if there is even a case to solve, though her mind is changed by issue’s end.

Another good start to the latest Lady Mechanika tale; Joe Benitez seems to be easing back on the art but Brian Ching’s work is just as lovely to look at.

SHADOW ROADS #8

Kalfu and Abigail meet with the Buzzard Clan to try and find why Henry has gone missing and just where he has gone. Henry has managed to visit India, with his friend Barry following him, and manages to track down his mother.

This issue had more background, more information and so felt bigger after the last few issues which seemed to sprawl a little. As such, it was more enjoyable than those.

SHAZAM! #6

Billy and Mary set out to rescue the other members of the family, while Dr Sivana and Black Adam battle it out at the Rock of Eternity. Trying to enter one of the other realms, Billy and Mary are instead sent back home where Billy finds his birth father has returned and is on parole. Pedro and Eugene meet the wizard Shazam, and while King Kid plans a war against Earth, Mary confesses to her adoptive parents that she and the others are superheroes.

Another good issue with various pieces being put in place for the showdown that’s coming.

Mash-Up #61

Twice a week I randomly generate two dates and then compare the titles I own from both of them, trying to find some covers that, with a little basic photoshopping, I can mash together, and then I force the results on you lovely people.

By the way, I admit to being HUGELY influenced by the wonderful Super-Team Family blog which has been doing this for years (and a lot better) on an almost daily basis.

Everyone remember when John Stewart became a Guardian, complete with red cape? No? You do surprise me.