Despite its significant delay, “Doomsday Clock” #9 delivers on every possible way. Part superhero extravaganza, part mystery, part comic book reconstruction, the tale by Johns, Frank and team is incredible to read and dissect.
Written by Geoff Johns
Illustrated by Gary Frank
Colored by Brad Anderson
Lettered by Rob Leigh
The critically acclaimed series by master storytellers Geoff Johns and Gary Frank reaches its most shocking chapter yet when the DC Universe collides with its greatest threat: Dr. Manhattan. But nothing is hidden from Manhattan, and the secrets of the past, present and future will rock the very foundation of the DC Universe.
“Doomsday Clock” #9 cannot be seen outside of the context of the series so far, and some might argue it should not be seen without the background of what it represents in terms of traditional comic book stories and what some call as more progressive, modern storytelling. From a structural point of view, this issue marks the end of the second arc of this story, with enough crescendo have already been built for the ultimate payoff on the remaining three entries of the series. More broadly, this issue literally pits two styles of narrative, of characters, of themes against each other. It is a tour-de-force in the sorts of confrontation it can present, in an aptly named chapter called ‘Crisis.’
Before investing more time on plot and script, there is a lot of praise to be given to Gary Frank and Brad Anderson on art, from an early design to a full execution perspective. There are no elements that the artistic duo does not flesh out, in truly amazing fashion.
Take for instance the pages following the title, where a plethora of traditional characters of the DC universe are presented, panel after panel, with so many details, nuances and craft. From where they are positioned against one another, to how their bodies are framed, to how certain facial expression bleed through… their roles, history and relationships are simply there for anyone who wants to explore them. And, yes, the fact that there is no dialogue on these pages either, save for a clever remark at the very last panel of that series, lets that sensation of clarity and information linger for longer.
The same admiration can be bestowed on backgrounds and settings. The contrast between the Martian landscape and that of a Moscow just hit by an explosion attack is eery, a reminder of what could happen if the solution to the current problem is not properly solved. An equal measure of attention is given to the more mundane backgrounds, from the interior of Wayne manor, to hospital and science lab halls.
And when the action breaks out – and break out it does – Frank and Anderson are at their best. The choreography of battle and how each character enter the fray, the utilisation of each power and energy signature, details in uniforms and mannerisms… it is an amazing display of detail. Anderson must receive the right amount of credit, as nothing becomes lost on these pages in large part due to how well he dispenses colors to make each element unique.
Reverting to plot and script, Johns tells and ambitious issue with “Doomsday Clock” #9, operating in multiple layers of awareness. At its most basic, this is where the Earth’s heroes go face the big bad in Mars, unaware of machinations, ulterior reasons or cosmic planes. At the most macro of levels, this is a confrontation between the dispute that superheroes, to evolve, must become darker, versus the proposition that evolution and complexity can still dispel hope without decaying. Everything in between are other forms of confrontations, of multiple crisis, be it among human characters with vastly different worldviews (Lex and Lois), the confrontation of superheroes about their place in the world (Wonder Woman and a group that shall remain unspoiled), the argument between secrets and disclosure, entered around Firestorm. It is extremely clever, with each specific debate feeding into the next, and augmenting the overall drama and stake.
Still, what may be the most satisfying element of the entire book is to see the DC characters engage with Doctor Manhattan. Not necessarily because of the battle it ensues – although that is quite compelling on its own – but even more given the vastly different views Manhattan has on core elements on the DC universe. Magic, willpower, even publishing analogues and comic tropes and subtly and not-so-subtly put under the microscope to be reviewed. At the end, it feels like a reconnection, a reconstruction of this mythos, as opposed to a sneering deconstruction of what they mean… “it feels good to still learn.”Continued below
It is hard to gauge how excited readers will be after this issue ends. There is so much at stake, so many reveals on the edge of full transparency that it simply becomes hard to idealise how the final three issues of “Doomsday Clock” will wrap everything up. After all, going back to the opening pages of this very issue, the story unfolds in the past, in the far-flung future and anywhere in-between. As much of an examination of the DC universe, and a love letter to what it means and the potential it has, “Doomsday Clock” #9 simply cannot be overlook.
Final Verdict: 9.0 – With amazing, layered art, with a plot that revels of the structure of confrontation, debate and contrast, “Doomsday Clock” #9 is a must-have book.