Doomsday Clock #10
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank and Brad Anderson
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
”I realize that this universe is much more than appears. And it’s all connected to him.”
The true extent of Doctor Manhattan’s meddling with the DC Multiverse becomes clear in the long-awaited Doomsday Clock #10. Though hampered by release delays, Geoff Johns sidesteps the lack of momentum by starting to show more of his narrative hand, going all the way back to the moment Jon Osterman found Earth Prime and showing just what he’s been up to since. Artists Gary Frank and Brad Anderson rise to the visual challenge of this issue, ping-ponging adroitly between eras, with continuing adherence to the hallowed nine-panel grid. While the issue will surely stand up better in collected formats, Doomsday Clock #10’s forward plot direction could not come at a better moment for the series.
“It’s April 18th, 1938. I arrive.” And with those words, Doctor Manhattan’s great game starts becoming clearer. Writer Geoff Johns has been hinting at the moment Jon hopped from Watchmen-Earth into the Multiverse, and Doomsday Clock #10’s entire page count is dedicated to that very moment — as well as the deadly reverberations that came after. All told, the results themselves are pretty interesting.
Having been deposited into the “special universe” that is the DCU, Jon starts to see that it is much more malleable than his homeworld, and it is all based around the existence of Superman. Johns then commits to the bit by having Doctor Manhattan be aware of every time the DCU has been rebooted, starting all the way from the first Crisis, to John Byrne’s Man of Steel, and even Grant Morrison’s Action Comics. Unsatisfied with just being aware of the “metaverse” he now inhabits, Manhattan then starts to “experiment,” altering the courses of events in Clark Kent’s life and thus the multiverse around him leading to his own “reboot” — the "New 52."
It is heady stuff for this late in the game, and I worry that readers that haven’t been very seriously invested in the series won’t get much out of it. Johns also slightly muddies these scenes by tying them closely with his “Tales of the Black Freighter”-esque framing device of film noir star Carver Colman. But the detailing and audacity of this main plot cannot be denied — this turn also provides a much more concrete explanation for the genesis of the "New 52" Multiverse and why the Legion and Super-Heroes and Justice Society of America are nowhere to be found. While fans have long speculated Doctor Manhattan’s involvement in the disappearance of these icons, it is nice to see Johns confirming that. That goes double for revealing Osterman as the culprit behind the cynical and gritty "New 52," a time in which Manhattan finds “relatable.” While it may come too late for some readers, Doomsday Clock #10 is at its best when it is doling out real answers, beyond placing things squarely at the feet of “Hypertime.”
And though it doesn’t carry the cameo-laden action of the last two issues, Doomsday Clock still looks great under the direction of Gary Frank and Brad Anderson. Adapting well to the various period settings of the 1930s through the 2000s, Frank and Anderson provide us a handsome visual tour of Superman’s life and the Doc’s experiments. While not outright mimicry, the pair give us their takes on some iconic DC moments, like the first official meeting of the JSA and young Clark’s induction into the Legion. The pair even lean into Jon’s disorienting view of time, chopping up moments of the plot through the nine-panel layouts, giving this tenth issue a bit of “temporal” energy.
Much like the script, though, the film noir elements sort of drag down the visuals. The scenes of Colman’s films, largely detailed in period accurate black and white, don’t really add much to the overall experience — quite the opposite in fact. Thankfully, though, most of these scenes are relegated to the opening and a single page to the end, but I would be lying if I told you that I was going to miss this side plot.
Not perfect by a sight, but Doomsday Clock #10 could signal an upswing for the series. By delving deep into DC history and showing some of their cards, Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson provide a solid return for the beleaguered limited series — here’s hoping they can only capitalize on it to stick the landing.