Doomsday Clock #12: Nothing Ever Ends

Doomsday Clock #12 Cover

Writer: Geoff Johns / Artist: Gary Frank / DC Comics

Delays happen in comics all the time. Either by adding issues or droughts between issues, this is almost standard operating procedure at this point, but the stakes for Doomsday Clock were different. As they were a means to explain the numerous reboots and interwoven with some existing storylines, the delays of the comic really hurt it in the most predictable ways. What wasn’t typical and surely not in the planning of this comic, was the explosion of The Watchmen TV show. By most critical accounts, it has been regarded as one of the best shows of the year and is the identifiable 2019 Watchmen content that people will recognize first. For perspective, issue #11 was released on September 4th of this year. The Watchmen didn’t come on TV until late October and aired all nine of its critically acclaimed episodes before we got the finale of Doomsday Clock.

If you count all the delays (not just between 11 & 12), then Doomsday Clock would’ve wrapped up well before HBO debuted its first episode. But instead, it claimed the dominant versions of Dr. Manhattan, Adrian Veidt, etc, etc and now Doomsday Clock feels like an afterthought. Which is super unfortunate because the book had gained some great momentum on the back half of its issues. We were finally set up for the confrontation between Jon & Clark…then we waited for three months. Which could’ve still been fine, but we weren’t waiting alone. Not if we had a subscription to HBO.

So, pop culture standing and relevance aside, how is the book? It’s good. It doesn’t quite fulfill all the promise of what led to this final showdown. As you would expect, we were never going to get the explicit binary of Superman destroys Superman or Dr. Manhattan destroys everything, but the third option wasn’t quite as scintillating as the first two either. The book succeeds in delivering two things: big huge, gigantic stakes & leaving no loose threads to end the story. If that’s what you wanted, then this book fulfills the promise. I can’t say it is what I was looking for, personally. The book becomes very much about the enduring necessity and goodness of Superman, which look, that’s DCs most fruitful slogan. I wouldn’t expect a message too stray to far from that. But I was hoping that a book with huge cosmic stakes would have more than that at its core, because that is almost all Superman stories. With all the setup, there might have been an opportunity to reach for more and we just didn’t get that. For a story that took so many chances along the way, the ending feels like a conceit to what we’re used to when Big Blue is involved. Big Blue being Superman, not the other Big Blue.

Frank does a good job here as always, even with more splash pages than usual. The narrative feels a bit chaotic with the number of characters depicted in the last battles, but Frank does a good job of character detail so that it doesn’t just devolve into limbs and logos.

It’s hard to say that Doomsday #12 was worth the three-month wait, especially since we don’t live in a vacuum and can’t pretend that a great version of Watchmen didn’t just happen in Doomsday Clock‘s absence. The story wraps up well, if not a bit safe. Ultimately, it will be hard to look back on this series and not at least put it in conversation with a cohesive media from the same source, that couldn’t be more different.

7.2 Merging Supermans out of 10

Enjoying Doomsday Clock? Check out BNP’s other reviews here.

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