To a certain class of comic book reader, the idea of a sequel to the graphic novel Watchmen is as blasphemous as the idea of a sequel to Casablanca. It’s a masterpiece! A classic! You can’t improve upon perfection! You can’t add onto the “lady-or-the-tiger” ending of the original and say what happened next!
Alas, there was an official sequel to Casablanca – a poorly-received novel called As Time Goes By. And now there is an official (at least in the minds of DC Comics editorial board) sequel to Watchmen – Doomsday Clock.
There is no small irony that Watchmen writer Alan Moore has decried other writers building outward from his original works to enhance the quintessence of The DC Comics Universe, given that Moore’s most extensive creative endeavor since then has been building a shared universe out of the flotsam and jetsam of fiction itself with his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series.
The most prominent example of this reconstruction of Moore’s work is Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern. This series developed a whole new mythology for The Green Lanterns, all of it spinning off from one Alan Moore story – Tygers.
Johns is spinning his tales in a similar fashion here, as we learn precisely what happened at the end of Watchmen. At the above pages relate, Adrian “Ozymandias” Veidt’s plan to force world peace through a faked alien invasion was exposed by the journal of the vigilante Rorschach. Now, the world is on the brink of war once again, Veidt is Public Enemy Number One and the countdown to Doomsday is quickening…
It remains to be seen just how any of what we see in Doomsday Clock #1 will tie into the recent events of the DC Rebirth universe. What is clear, however, is that Geoff Johns’ intends to craft an epic worthy of Watchmen‘s legacy or fail spectacularly in the attempt. Thus far, he seems to be leaning toward failure, with a reliance on humor that doesn’t work with the grim tone of the setting and dialogue that seems more like a mockery of Moore’s verbose writing style than an emulation of it.
Gary Frank fares better in his artistic efforts to honor Watchmen‘s legacy. Frank’s style is a good match for that of original Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons, featuring a similar aesthetic built around light pencils and heavy details. There is a strong sense of clarity to Gary Frank’s artwork despite some intricate line-work. This lends a light, quick pace to the story, which is well-matched by the color art of Brad Anderson. Letterer Rob Leigh also does a fine job, using an italicized font to give extra power to Rorschach’s dialog.
While it’s unlikely to win over ideological purists, Doomsday Clock #1 works quite well taken on its own terms. It’s far too early to make comparisons between this series and the original Watchmen but this series seems to be moving in an interesting direction. It may yet crash and burn, but it will be a spectacular wreck if it does!