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

AQUAMAN #49

Arthur finally gets his memories of Mera back, but they come with a twist – not only did she reveal her pregnancy to him, but his reaction (of wanting to slink off and think about things for a while) pissed her off so much that it looks like she flipped and accidentally killed him. That was the incident that meant him waking up without memories on the island of the old sea gods.

I’m in two minds about this series since DeConnick took over; it’s well written and the art’s usually good, but the whole amnesia/my wife’s pregnant story line just feels too familiar. How many times have we seen/read a scene where – DUN DUN DUUUUHHHH – the woman says “I’m pregnant!” in order to provide a plot point for the man? This, combined with the amnesia, just seems lazy.

BARBARELLA / DEJAH THORIS #4

The two heroines from different times work together to save the inhabitants of a water-filled Mars, sending them back through time to become their own ancestors and, along the way, ensuring the rise of the Red, Green and all the other Martians, of which Dejah is one.

This has a been a fun series; I’ve not encountered Leah Williams’s work before but this makes me want to track some more down. It’ll probably be collected at some point, and you could do worse than picking this up.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #26

As Martian Manhunter scans the Earth for Lex Luthor, many of the other Leaguers head to the House of Heroes where heroes from the multiverse have gathered to hear Superman and the World Forger ask for help in finding the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor. Meanwhile, Hawkgirl and Mera set about training new heroes while Starman is trying to find the other pieces of the Totality.

This was slower paced than recent episodes, perhaps because James Tynion IV is writing rather than Scott Snyder, but there’s still the whole “the multiverse is dying!” thing which has been going on since forever. As much as I liked seeing the other heroes from the multiverse, this has been dragging on for such a long time now.

A WALK THROUGH HELL #11

We get glimpses of Shaw’s past, while in the present McGregor acts as Shaw’s guide in hell (or wherever they are) showing her what has happened to the agents who went before them, as well as Driscoll who reveals her own, mostly unwilling, part in this whole thing.

Man . . . one issue to go and I have no idea where or how this is going to end, but I’m suspecting something dark and nihilistic.

WARLORD OF MARS ATTACKS #1

The Martians from Mars Attacks – Moonheads as they’re called here – are in full-on attack mode, invading Helium and the other Barsoomian cities. Despite John Carter’s best attempts, the Moonheads are winning, forcing Dejah Thoris to sacrifice herself and Helium, destroying the entire city and most of the Moonheads in one huge explosion. Years later, on Earth, NASA celebrates the successful landing of a craft on Mars but no sooner do the pictures reach Earth than we see Moonheads destroying the landing craft. At the same time, somehow, they attack Earth in their flying saucers. The issue ends with one of the NASA scientists taking a handful of hostages toward Arizona.

I mentioned this when it was solicited back in March and, sure enough, it’s a 100mph ride that doesn’t let up. It’s fun and probably not going to be too serious for the rest of the mini-series so I’m glad I picked it up.