Doomsday Clock 3: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Michael DeLaney 

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: What’s the most controversial element of the original Watchmen? For my money, it’s the pirate comics. I understand and appreciate the in-universe reasons for choosing pirates, and I understand their function in reflecting the themes of the story in a sort of parallel narrative, but I’ll admit that, while many readers consider them sacred, I’ve skipped them in all my subsequent Watchmen rereads. To me, those segments have always felt tantamount to the supplemental material in the back of each issue, something extra and non-essential, important more as an intellectual exercise than as an interesting narrative, or an interesting part of the overall Watchmen narrative, in their own right. Issue three of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Doomsday Clock introduces this semi-sequel’s own version of the pirate comics: the noir movie. I have similar issues with these segments as well. Continue reading


Doomsday Clock 2: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Drew Baumgartner 

Doomsday Clock 2

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Michael: It seems that the divisive issue this holiday season was not about the fictitious “War on Christmas” but instead about your opinion of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I’m fascinated by the varying differences of opinions on this film. One of the most popular criticisms amongst detractors is that it didn’t meet their expectations. Some Star Wars fans might have given The Last Jedi a small margin of potential victory where the film was both different and spiritually the same to the original films. I’m reminded of this intense desire for both nostalgia and innovation in Doomsday Clock 2. Continue reading

Manhattan Projects 11

manhattan projects 11

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Manhattan Projects 11, originally released April 24th, 2013.

Patrick: We take the term of “science fiction” for granted. It’s a genre and an aesthetic that has become ironically formulaic over the years. Just as “fantasy” increasing means a cookie-cutter world of elves and goblins and dragons, “science fiction” means spaceships and lasers and aliens (or robots, so say we all). Jonathan Hickman’s Manhattan Projects returns to the source of the phrase and delivers a series both surprisingly scientific and excitingly fictional. I’m still tinkering with the punctuation, but I think “science/fiction” is the most appropriate. Continue reading

Before Watchmen – Ozymandias 6

ozymandias 6 B4WToday, Michael and Shelby are discussing Ozymandias 6, originally released March 13th, 2013. Ozymandias is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Michael: What you don’t show is as important as what you do show. If a story is told well, you can thankfully take this writerly aphorism for granted. We’re free to focus on what we are shown, because it’s gripping and we care about these moments over others. The rest — the implied events — blends into the background. It might be important. It might be necessary we know about it, but it isn’t right in front of us, on the page, and that’s OK. Unless that story is Before Watchman: Ozymandias 6, then it’s not OK. Every grinding gear of a story must be on display. It’s my own fault. I crave the supplemental information and shifts in perspective — I’m just upset when it doesn’t work out.

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Before Watchmen – Dr. Manhattan 4

dr manhattan 4 B4W

Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Dr. Manhattan 4, originally released February 27th, 2013. Dr. Manhattan is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Shelby: How do you tell any kind of story about a man who sees all of  time at once? He knows his past, his future, and everything in between; how do you find a compelling narrative in the story of a man who knows his whole story? J. Michael Straczynski has tried to do that by exploiting Dr. Manhattan’s kooky relationship with time. “Doc Manhattan knows every possible future? FINE. I’ll WRITE every possible future!” JMS seemed to say. This title hasn’t been terrible (especially compared to the other monstrosities JMS had his hand in), but it hasn’t been great, either. At best, this book has been conceptually interesting, but has fallen short in execution. This issue is no different; JMS tries out something new that’s interesting, but ultimately the story doesn’t go much of anywhere. Continue reading

Before Watchmen – Ozymandias 5

ozymandias 5 B4WToday, Patrick and Michael are discussing Ozymandias 5, originally released January 30th, 2012. Ozymandias is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Patrick: In a sequence that perfectly epitomizes how I feel about the Ozymandias mini-series, Adrian Veidt holds a press conference as his alter ego. He removes the mask and the costume, revealing to the assembled reporters that Ozymandias and Adrian Veidt are one and the same. He says that all non-Doctor-Manhattan heroes have effectively become irrelevant — a sentiment echoed at one point or another by just about everyone in the Watchmen universe. Vedit can accomplish more good as the head of Vedit Industries, which prompts one reporter to ask “So, this is all about the money?” Never mind that this isn’t at all what Vedit was saying, he addresses the question head-on, bluntly saying “In this end… isn’t everything?” That reads as a rather cynical explanation for Before Watchmen, but interestingly, Veidt can’t keep his word about staying out of costume, donning the cape again to fight petty crime during the police strike. The message? It’s all about money… except when superheroes are involved: then it’s about something else.

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Before Watchmen – Dr. Manhattan 3

Alternating Currents: Before Watchmen - Dr. Manhattan 3, Michael and DrewToday, Michael and Drew are discussing Dr. Manhattan 3, originally released December 12th, 2012. Dr. Manhattan is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Michael: One of the themes of almost any time travel story is exponential chaos. Messing with the space time continuum can get out of control fast. The time-travel narrative can get similarly disordered as alternate worlds open and paradoxes proliferate. When the protagonist can exist in and explore these permutations, like Dr. Manhattan, drama gets complicated and the context needed to recognize a satisfactory ending gets fuzzy.  In this issue, “Ego Sum”, J. Michael Straczynski and Adam Hughes try to gracefully execute a clunky, inelegant story solution to the reckless splitting of worlds that results in a nuclear holocaust. Continue reading

Before Watchmen – Ozymandias 4

ozymandias4B4WToday, Drew and Mogo are discussing Ozymandias 4, originally released November 28th, 2012. Ozymandias is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Drew: I don’t envy Len Wein. The thought of writing a prequel to one of the greatest comic books of all time is daunting enough, but Wein faces the additional task of writing the thoughts of the smartest man on the planet. Super-intelligent characters like Sherlock Holmes are difficult to write realistically — the writer has to come up with problems whose solutions aren’t already apparent to the supporting cast and audience — but Adrian Veidt is an order of magnitude more difficult. This is someone who predicted the end of the world, then devoted years to realize a convoluted plan to divert it. Anything shy of that level of planning and premonition is going to feel like a letdown, and unfortunately, that’s exactly what we get inOzymandias 4. Continue reading

Chat Cave: Late Additions to Before Watchmen

The Retcon Punchers weren’t exactly thrilled when Before Watchmen was announced. But then, against all odds, the experiment proved largely successful. The original line-up contained many titles that went well beyond justifying their existence — a few even transcend their inherently exploitative premise. Last week saw the release of Moloch #1 and the announcement of a Dollar Bill one-off. What does this mean for the legacy of Before Watchmen? Any additional titles you want to see? What if there’s a chance to get additional issues of existing titles? Welcome to the Chat Cave. Continue reading

Before Watchmen – Dr. Manhattan 2

Today, Patrick and Michael Capristo are discussing Dr. Manhattan 2, originally released October 10, 2012. Dr. Manhattan is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Patrick: The first issue of Dr. Manhattan has sort of become Retcon Punch’s go-to example of something about which we can neither agree nor be civil. At its best, the issue was clever homage, setting up a daunting narrative structure with dazzling artwork. At its worst, the issue was reductive, inaccurate and repetitive. The centerpiece of our contention: Schrodinger’s cat. The thought experiment posits that an unobserved cat in a box is simultaneously dead and alive, and only when the cat is observed do the realities collapse into a single universe. Schrodinger came up with this puzzle partially to illustrate how silly the field of quantum mechanics is. Which isn’t to say that he didn’t buy into it, just that you live in a profoundly weird universe if a fact can be simultaneously true and not true. I’ve been thinking about it all evening, and “profoundly weird” is exactly how I want to describe Dr. Manhattan 2.
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