Thursday, 23 November 2017

The Big #1: Doomsday Clock #1

(Plot type spoilers and a hell of a lot of unfounded and ill-informed speculation await you below.)
It occurs to me that I probably should have finally got around to reading Watchmen before this came out. I fully intend to rectify the problem this afternoon (its one of DC's eternal classics, Waterstone's has to have copy) but for the moment let's all pretend that I intended to go into this series unbiased by the perception of the original series' sacred cow status instead of just being someone with the forward planning skills of a custard doughnut.

Agreed? Moving on.

Through that prism (or lack of prism), I have a few thoughts. Firstly, was the narration from Rorschach always complete pretentious drivel or what? Now, if that was what Geoff Johns was going for with it he succeeds admirably. “An intestine of truth and shit strangled us.” is absolute gold if your intention was to write a dumb or mad person's idea of deep social commentary. Speaking of which...

He's not a subtle man, our Geoff Johns. The US President of Watchmen Earth, President Redford is pretty much Donald Trump pretending to be Ronald Reagan (art imitates life): he's got a wall to keep out Mexicans and he's replaced the entire free press of the United States with his own news channel so he can better explain to the people that he absolutely has to start a nuclear war no matter what those horrible foreign news organisation think is happening.

Okay then.

As to how much this issue tips its hand towards the connection between the Watchmen continuity and the DC Universe... it doesn't. Most of the issue takes place on the Watchmen Earth with only a short coda at the end featuring Superman having a nightmare that's probably some sort of premonition. The nightmare in question features Superman's parents dying on the night of his high school prom just as he watches Pete Ross kissing Lana Lang and being heartbroken.

I hope this means something.

You see, an odd thing over the last decade or so has been the increasing desire to kill off the Kents. It generally started with Pa Kent who was killed off in the comics during the New Krypton arc, in the middle seasons of Smallville, and then was declared to have died years ago at the beginning of the New 52. Now Ma Kent (otherwise known as “WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME!?”) seems to have joined him in the great hereafter a lot earlier than I'd assumed.

So the question that occurs to me is this: Is this something to do with the diddling about with history that's been slowly uncovered since the Rebirth one-shot? Is Superman now having a super sad childhood with 100% more dead parents some part of the master plan? I feel confident in assuming it is because Geoff Johns is that sort of writer but also because its an odd nightmare to be explicitly placing as a premonition of doom of those events have nothing to do with the whole Watchmen thing.

As to the actual Watchmen content... I absolutely need to read the original because this seems to follow on pretty directly from what I know of that series' conclusion. We're introduced to a pair of new characters, the Marionette and the Mime who appear to be what counts as super-villains in the Watchmen continuity, who are being recruited by Rorschach who appears to not be Rorschach (though he has what I assume to be a convincing line in imitation of the original's pretentious bollocks) who has a watch that's a bit slow so he doesn't know quite how long they've got until nuclear armageddon.

Its all very atmospheric and darkly humoured, at least I hope I'm meant to be taking it that way. One of the problems with the consensus DC all-time classics is that a lot of them seem to be taken a lot more seriously than they were meant to be. When I finally took a look at some of Frank Miller's Batman stuff I was actually surprised by how many jokes and little knowing nods were in there. You will never convince me that Batman admiring how well Sarah Essen walks in heels as she pretends to be a prostitute being assaulted is not meant to make me smile. On the other hand, The Killing Joke is exactly as po-faced as its reputation makes it out to be and that's Alan Moore.

So, yes, I definitely need to read Watchmen before the second issue comes out. Absent that context the issue is pretty good, visually interesting and well-written if I'm taking certain things the right way. I am painfully aware, however, that we still aren't anywhere near the punchline that I am dreading: the moment when the Watchmen universe and the DC universe finally collide.

I look forward to this moment with dread barely tinged with the distant glimmer of hope. 

No comments: