Friday, 30 March 2018

Doomsday Clock #4 Review (Geoff Johns, Gary Frank)


It’s that time of the bi-month again as Geoff Johns and Gary Frank return with another unexciting and unnecessarily ponderous instalment of their Watchmen sequel, Doomsday Clock! So is it good yet? Nah. In fact I think this is the weakest issue so far. 

Doomsday Clock #4 is all about the new Rorschach, Reggie, with Johns showing us how he’s currently doing in Arkham Asylum, courtesy of Batman, and how he did in the Watchmen world in still another mental home (ol’ Reg had a breakdown after his parents died in Ozymandias’ alien monster scheme). 

The origin of why Reg decided to don the mask and become Rorschach was tenuous at best. I could understand why he’d want to kill Ozymandias but dressed as Rorschach? Nope - just contrived nonsense. And the reason why he didn’t kill Ozymandias was even astoopid. It wasn’t as bad as the Martha moment in BvS but it was pretty damn close! 

I think it’s to do with Reg’s relationship with his father, which never once seemed like a convincing motivation, but I didn’t understand what all the bug zapping and the fate of the Moth Man had to do with it. We can’t deny our true natures? Keep searching for the truth? Or is it a literal search for enlightenment with Doctor Manhattan as the stand-in for truth/enlightenment? Johns tries to be arty but only manages to pull off being farty. 

Like the redundant literary references in this comic: Rorschach’s asylum buddy was called Byron, like the poet Lord Byron who was friends with Percy Bysshe Shelley who wrote the poem Ozymandias. Rorschach takes a ship called the Percy Bysshe to Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt who’s lamenting the outcome of his plan to save mankind, a kind of Frankensteinian creator/monster moment like in the novel Frankenstein written by Percy Bysshe Shelley’s wife, Mary Shelley. 

It’s like in addition to trying to be like Alan Moore by writing a Watchmen comic, given all the bookish references, Johns is also trying to write a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen! And to what effect? It’s not like it makes the comic more entertaining. If anything it feels like he’s trying too hard to appear intellectual when all he’s got to offer is the veneer of sophistication. 

I’d forgive it all if the comic were more fun, more compelling, but it’s not. It’s a bore. Doomsday Clock #4 is a contrived, dull, uninsightful and clumsily written comic - if this is what the rest of the series is going to be like, I can wait longer than two months to read the next issue!

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