Welcome back to Nerdbot’s continuing coverage of DC’s epic Watchmen crossover event Doomsday Clock!!
It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance write about this, believe me, the whole bi-monthly format thing really sucks. Just when the series starts to get off the ground, we find out we’ve got to wait even longer to see what happens next. Makes you wonder… why didn’t they just release the first issue in January? Wouldn’t a better solution be to simply delay issue one for the sake of making you deadline on time?
Unfortunately I don’t work at DC, nor do I have any experience in the comic book business but know I’m a big fan of what Geoff Johns and company are doing here. Huge fan, who like most us, are victims of the modern instant gratification society, where waiting for anything totally blows!
So before we begin today’s article I have to ask… was issue #4 of Doomsday Clock worth the wait? Honestly, I’m a little undecided at the moment. For what Walk On Water lacks in the wow factor, it completely delivers on exposition. Almost like that one episode per season of a TV show where it’s set in the past with the main goal of providing insight into the plot’s unanswered questions. Definitely what we have going on here. I would say this installment is more on the side of reveals than crazy ass twists. However, the direction this arc goes is unexpected, featuring some of the best storytelling we’ve seen in the run so far.
Are you ready? Let’s do it!
Best way to start off is by letting you know Rorschach, or Reggie Long, son of Gloria and Dr. Malcom Long (Walter Kovacs’ psychiatrist) is the center focus of the issue. That’s right! Internet fan theory confirmed. When you look at it retrospectively I guess it’s pretty obvious, but now we know for sure. Issue #4 is all him, for the first time a real bridge between the original Watchmen and Doomsday Clock has been built. I know we got a brief “fill in the gaps” thing with the Comedian, but now there’s a more depth and knowledge about the world before us.
Walk On Water contains two main threads; 1) Reggie Rorschach in the present time, and 2) flashbacks of his life leading up to the start of Doomsday Clock.
Let’s begin with the former… our protagonist is right where we left him, in Arkham Asylum. As expected, things aren’t going so well. Fellow inmates attack him, the food is god awful, and he is subjected to psychological evaluation by Dr. Matthew Mason, who shows a keen interest in Rorschach’s connection to Batman. Why is that? Because it’s revealed at the end, Dr. Mason was actually the Dark Knight rocking a new kind of mask. Bruce Wayne’s mission only teases a bigger secret as his final words are “He knows too much, and we don’t know enough”. Whatever the cliffhanger sets up I’m confident will be reason we’re still reading.
This thread is not as eventful as the other. More like glue holding the issue together. However there’s an interesting Mr. Freeze cameo, it’s not much be we see him. The payoff comes in the form of a character named Jane Doe. She appears at Reggie’s cell to say she’s been inside his mind the last few days, then opens the door setting him free. Could it be the work of Dr. Manhattan? A flash of blue light might indicate another appearance sooner than later.
Now on to the good stuff… the parts that are set in the past make this installment worth the trip to the comic book shop. We take a stroll through Reggie’s early years, youth, college, even the night Ozymandias staged an alien invasion killing millions of innocent lives. He was there, and the authorities found him in his car, then shipped him to a mental institute. Among the deceased were Reggie’s parents and images of that fatal evening haunt his dreams.
Reggie eventually meets Byron the “Mothman” (an original Minuteman), and they become friends. Here is when the transformation to the modern Rorschach begins. Reggie’s non confrontational persona dissolves into a stone cold agent of doom. Now he fights back, now he brings the pain. One night, Byron drops off a package containing some of Dr. Long’s files from Walter Kovacs’ case including his journal. As Reggie becomes more familiar with what happened, the pieces slowly come together and a desire for revenge consumes him.
Finally it’s 1992, Byron torches the institute, leaving Reggie a ticket for a boat that will take him to Antarctica. After walking miles in the cold, he reaches the lair of Ozymandias. Knife drawn, Reggie prepares to face the one responsible for his parents death, but he can’t go through with it. During the scene Ozy discusses his brain cancer and from the dialogue, expresses remorse for the horrific actions he took to save humanity. When it’s all said and done, the smartest man on Earth finds a way to recruit a new partner.
As far as Rorschach is concerned, we’re now brought up to speed. A major gap between Watchmen and Doomsday Clock has been filled. Like I said, I’m a little undecided on this issue, and it’s my fault. I got too wrapped up in seeing the characters to realize what made the Watchmen so groundbreaking was its ability to brilliantly define them. I can say that this chapter was the closest thing we’ve seen to the original series. If Alan Moore liked anything I believe he would almost be proud.
I can only imagine what he has to say about Doomsday Clock…
We got eight more issues to go and the next couple months I’m hoping fly by fast AF. Also because it will be summer here in Cleveland and for those of you waiting for winter to end, I feel ya.
Nerdbot Rating: 7 out of 10.
By Adam Chmielewski
Photo Credits- DC Comics
Where do you think Doomsday Clock is going? Let Nerdbot know in the comments!!