Eric Warner Staff Writer
Sequels are risky endeavors. At times they can elevate breakout success stories that outshine the original. Other times, sequels can muddle the original works image by conveying narratives that contradict the authors intent. However, sequels are made with a message and it’s up to the masses to determine if this next chapter will bring the works to new prestige or eclipse the original piece. Such is the case with the twelve issue comic book series “Doomsday Clock,” written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Gary Frank.
“Doomsday Clock” is a direct sequel to “Watchmen,” a 1980’s comic book published by “Comics” which was created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and reached acclaim by being listed under “Time Magazine’s” top 100 novels of all time. With that kind of pressure chained to the graphic novel, many in the comic book industry were weary to build upon the book much to Moore’s approval.
Moore would later become disenfranchised with DC after being furiously disappointed with their film adaption of his novel in 2009. Johns, the former Chief Creative Officer at DC, then took it upon himself, with Frank, to form a narrative worthy of being a sequel to “Watchmen” within the medium the original was created. “Doomsday Clock” would first be released with issue one of the series in Fall of 2017 but the remaining issues would be heavily delayed resulting in the final issue not releasing until Winter of 2019.
“Doomsday Clock” takes place seven years after the end of “Watchmen,” where the world lived in a global state of benevolent peace between the U.S. and Russia after uniting against a common alien foe that killed millions in New York. This is until Ozymandias’, the villain of “Watchmen,” scheme is revealed to the public that he manufactured the alien and sacrificed millions to artificially create peace. Old wounds of the Cold War are reopened resulting in the world destroying itself with nuclear annihilation. Seemingly warped with guilt and terminal brain cancer, Ozymandias’ gathers another person to take up the mantel of Rorschach and two villains known as Mime & Marionette travel to the DC Universe. Their goal is to find Doctor Manhattan and try to convince him to save his old world. Meanwhile, the DC universe is on the brink of its own destruction with the U.S. and Russia threatening nuclear war after discovering the plot of the mysterious Supermen Theory. All this is going on while Doctor Manhattan is on his own journey to determine why Superman is at the center of this universe’s past, present, and future.
As a standalone sequel to “Watchmen,” “Doomsday Clock” will be very confusing to readers that only read the previous book. “Doomsday Clock” as a whole feels like it’s battling itself for the center of attention between the “Watchmen” and the DC characters. However, readers who have been reading DC comics for a long time will find this book to be exhilarating, especially with how the book celebrates the publisher’s past, present, and future with emphasis on the Justice Society of America and the Legion of Superheroes.
Ultimately, “Doomsday Clock” turns the theme of “Watchmen” on its head by stating that yes, nothing ever ends but that doesn’t mean life has to be depressing. People can turn their darkest moments into hopeful new beginnings just as Clark Kent and Reggie Long do in this book. Everybody has a choice to be swallowed by their despair or to get up and make the world a better place. While it may seem cliché, love will prevail as Doctor Manhattan states, “don’t be afraid of what you feel.” These themes are a bit difficult to clearly perceive as this book focuses a lot on DC’s and Superman’s future as their legacy reaches a century of existence with the book even teasing a future crossover with a certain marvelous rival. Readers who aren’t in the know of DC lore may want to read “DC Universe: Rebirth #1” and the miniseries “Batman/The Flash: The Button” to truly comprehend what “Doomsday Clock” entails. While this book may not be a standalone masterpiece of literature like its predecessor, if nothing else, it’s a proud celebration of how far the comic book medium has come ever since an alien refugee crashed landed in those books in 1938.