Doomsday Clock 6 Circles Marionette’s Past as it Circles the Drain

By Patrick Ehlers

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

If I asked you to picture the single imagine that evokes Watchmen, what would you picture? Likely, you’re imagining the Comedian’s smiley face button, but I could also see an argument for Doctor Manhattan’s circular forehead logo. Both symbols are circles. I know that’s not exactly mind-blowing, but this is the level of visual rhetoric writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank are playing with in Doomsday Clock 6.

The series continues to slump along in much the same way it did last time we talked about it. This time, Marionette and Mime are the focus of the story, which really doesn’t do Johns or Frank any favors. Stripped of all but the most tangential references to the Watchmen universe, the creators are left with the tone and tools of the piece to tell a story that spans two tonally discrete universes. If that sounds like an inadequate set of tools to complete an impossible task, that’s because it is. Continue reading

Doomsday Clock 5 Meanders

By Drew Baumgartner

Doomsday Clock 5

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

The essence of drama, and especially melodrama, is compression. Show only what’s important. So start the scene as late as possible and once the dramatic point is made, end it.

Dennis O’Neil, The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics

Pound for pound, this might be some of the best writing advice I know. But in this age of sequels, prequels, spin-offs and tie-ins, it seems like it’s all but been forgotten. That is, the artistic discipline of narrative efficiency is no match for the commercial demands of more familiar content. I don’t mean to dismiss all sequels etc. out of hand (The Godfather: Part II is a goddamned masterpiece, and is both a sequel and a prequel), but I do think they need to work a bit harder to justify their existence — if the details of this prequel story truly are essential, why weren’t they included in the original. And that scrutiny goes double when augmenting a beloved masterpiece. It’s absolutely possible for a sequel to justify itself, even under those circumstances (again, The Godfather: Part II), but it’s no easy feat. Unfortunately, the longer Doomsday Clock wears on, the less it seems up to that task, not only failing to justify its existence, but pretty much every storytelling choice it makes. Continue reading

Action Comics 1000: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner, Michael DeLaney, Patrick Ehlers, and Spencer Irwin

Action Comics 1000

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

“From the City that Has Everything”

Drew: Superman changed the world. That’s obvious enough in-universe, but it’s just as true of our world. Action Comics 1 created (or at least codified) the superhero genre, a genre that came to define both the 20th and 21st centuries, and is still growing as Action Comics rings in its 1000th issue. It’s a singular achievement, but celebrating it as such might not be in the spirit of Superman, for whom humbleness is as much a part of his character as heroism. He’s not one to take compliments easily, let alone brag, so any efforts to do so on his behalf run the risk of feeling crass. Most of the stories in this issue opted to ignore lionizing Superman outright, aiming instead to illustrate what it is that makes him so laudable, but in the issue’s opening chapter, Dan Jurgens came up with a way to address the issue with Superman himself, providing a commentary on the whole exercise of a huge anniversary issue, and offering a justification that even Superman can get behind. Continue reading

Doomsday Clock 4: Discussion

By Michael DeLaney and Drew Baumgartner 

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

Michael: I’d rather not spend each issue of Doomsday Clock comparing it to Watchmen, but dammit if that’s not what Geoff Johns and Gary Frank want me to do. Doomsday Clock 4 takes a break from the new ensemble of “heroes and villains” that has been established, and instead zeroes in on the new Rorschach. Much like Walter Kovacs in the sixth chapter of Watchmen, Doomsday Clock 4 deals with Rorschach’s current incarceration, as well as his origins. Continue reading

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

Doomsday Clock 1: 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: I wasn’t even five years old when the Cold War officially ended, so I can’t really comment on what it must have been like to live under its omnipresent dread. I have plenty of first-hand experience, though, living in 2017, a year where each and every moment has felt like it may be the world’s last, a year which has seen a constant struggle against tyrannic forces just to keep vital freedoms alive. If Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic Watchmen channeled the Cold War’s constant unease into its narrative, then Doomsday Clock does the same thing with the chaotic political battleground of 2017, creating a fraught, tense world that feels mere moments away from ending. Continue reading

Green Lanterns 14

green-lanterns-14

Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Green Lanterns 14, originally released January 4, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS!

Michael: Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern run has had many lasting impacts on the Green Lantern universe, prominent among them is the concept of the emotional spectrum. In the realm of Lanterns, ROYGBIV = Rage, Avarice, Fear, Will, Hope, Compassion and Love. It’s a simple enough concept that marries each color ringbearer to their respective emotion: Red Lanterns are exploding with hate and Blue Lanterns are perpetual optimists. The most interesting set of lanterns that seems to break this trend is the Indigo Tribe, who become enslaved by compassion and transformed into almost completely different individuals. Continue reading

Best of 2016: Best Issues

best-issue-2016

Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2016. Continue reading

DC Universe Rebirth 1

dcu rebirth 1

Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing DC Universe Rebirth 1, originally released May 25th, 2016.

Spencer: To me, one of the most interesting things about the mythology surrounding DC’s “Rebirth” initiative is that, despite its being touted as DC “canonically admitting that they screwed up the New 52,” DC didn’t take this opportunity to reboot or return to their old continuity. Instead, writer/creative director/all-around DC miracle worker Geoff Johns is using Rebirth to course correct their fledgling universe, making a concerted effort to turn away from the darkness that largely came to define the New 52 and instead embrace the ideas of love, hope, and legacy that DC was once famous for.

It’s an effort that warms my heart. I’ll admit to feeling maybe just the slightest, tiniest bit cynical (the upcoming “war” leaves a back-door open to restore the pre-Flashpoint continuity should Rebirth falter as well), but that barely matters. My favorite character in all of comics is back, and thus, I couldn’t be happier. Continue reading