Doomsday Clock #4
Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 28, 2018
Cover date: May 2018
“Walk On Water”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Gary Frank and Brad Anderson
Cover: Gary Frank
Variant Cover: Gary Frank
Reviewed by: Keith Samra
Our story begins with Reggie also known as the second Rorschach, coming to terms with his incarceration as an inmate at Arkham Asylum. Thanks to the Batman’s actions of last issue, Reggie is now locked up amongst Gotham’s worst.
We flashback to Reggie’s life, where see an only child, the son of a psychiatrist, whom had the duty of serving as the original Rorschach’s prison psychiatrist.
Reggie gets caught in Ozymandias “master plan” from Watchmen, causing him to lose his mind, and his parents to lose their life.
He is incarcerated in a mental home, where he meets an elderly Moth-Man, Byron Lewis.
Byron helps Reggie acclimate to his new home in the mental institute. Most importantly, he teaches him to “See what you want”. After Reggie learns where he can find the man responsible for the downward spiral of his life, he and Byron manage to stage a breakout, and set the institute on fire, but Byron, like a moth to the flame, leaves Reggie, and walks into the burning building to his demise.
Reggie eventually finds his way to Ozymandias base in the South Pole, where he finds him, and plans to kill him. Ozymandias explains his brain tumor, and almost welcomes death, as he feels a great deal of regret for his actions. Reggie lets him live, and the two set out to make things right.
We end with Batman and Alfred discussing the fact that Batman shouldn’t have left Reggie in Arkham, the way he did, as Reggie, who is known as “John Doe” breaks out, with the help of another prisoner, named “Jane Doe”.
To be continued…
Story – 5: This issue marks the first quarter line in this series, and also parallels the original series with its 4th issue, being the origin of Dr Manhattan, which is emulated here with us getting to learn how Reggie became the second Rorschach.
Reggie is taught by Moth-Man to see what he wants, in order to make life a bit more bearable whilst incarcerated. In this case, he sees himself as Rorschach, not just adopting his style of speech but also his mannerisms and thought process from his fathers journals, when he treated Walter Kovaks in prison.
It was interesting to see how a timid kid went from a college student to a violent sociopath, and then try and find redemption by helping the very man he was seeking to kill for revenge.
Johns never fails to provide an exciting point of view, while exploring the depth of these or any characters he writes.
Keeping in traditional Geoff Johns fashion, I love that he explores an antagonistic characters motivations, and shining a light on their motives and circumstances, giving them a redeeming quality. In the case of this story, its Ozymandias. Through Reggie’s flashbacks we see the regret Ozymandias has for his actions, and his desperate attempt to rectify them, before he possibly dies from his brain tumor. I loved that Johns was able to showcase this in the flashbacks, without actually featuring Ozymandias as a lead in this issue.
With Reggie being referred to as John Doe at Arkham, we also meet a Jane Doe, though her identity may not be as mysterious as we think. We have met this Jane Doe before, and she is non other than Saturn Girl of the Legion of Superheroes. We first saw her in the Rebirth Special, where she is committed to the asylum, because she cant remember who she is, but is looking for Superman, who was presumed dead at that stage (See Rebirth and Superman Reborn). We then saw her in the pages of Batman, as an inmate at Arkham, behind a glass cell door, drawing the Legion symbol on the window as Batman walks past her.
Here, she tells Reggie that she has been in his mind for a few days. Remember that Saturn Girl is telepathic, which explains why and how she is in Reggie’s head. She may still be in an amnesic state, but know enough to help them both escape. She says that she wont be around for too much longer, this left me very intrigued. Your guess may be as good as mine.
The Batman Cameo I enjoyed quite a bit, as Johns gave us an aspect that we haven’t seen for quite some time, and that is him going undercover on a mission, disguised as a different person. Really takes it back to the days when he was more detective than the brooding, unbeatable Mary-Sue that he became.
I know that we haven’t seen Superman since his brief appearance in the first issue, but it seems that we wont have to wait very long until he shows up again. Seeing as he has a strong connection to the Legion, of whom Saturn Girl is a member, as well as the many hints that were dropped, about him being a major player in this series.
Johns has been building to this for a while, and we know some big event or crisis is going to happen to Superman (it was teased in the Justice League vs Suicide Squad mini series as well as throughout the Superman titles featuring Mr OZ).
We are almost at the half way mark, but still have much of the story to unfold, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how it plays out.
Art – 5: With each issue, it is evident that no artist could handle this book in quite the way Gary Frank does. Not only can he emulate the style and tone of the original series, but he does it with his own signature meticulousness and panache.
The 9 panel grid throughout most of the issue, gives the story a cinematic feel, as the panels reminded me of storyboards. Now I know that in the original series, Dave Gibbons did the same, but Frank made it work for this chapter.
Not since Frank Miller have I seen an artist play with light the way Gary Frank does, in case of this issue, we see how the different sources of light, play up the shadows on the characters faces. Mostly at times of heightened emotion or a turning point in a characters arc.
The Easter Eggs were also a great little treat this issue, as they featured many of Batman’s Rogues gallery. In the lunch line alone we see Zebra-Man, The Ventriloquist, Maxie Zeus and possibly The Riddler or Clock King (Tweedle Dum and Dee are also mentioned).
It would seem that Reggie has a violent encounter with Zebra-Man, as later we see him with some of Zebra-Man’s skin in his mouth, as he his being taken away by the guards.
We later get a glimpse of Mr Freeze, and the cells of Waylon Jones (Killer Croc) and Two-Face.
The Batman cameo, is what lets us know that he was the one disguised as the Psychiatrist. This is done purely through the art.
Jane Doe says that she is a friend to Reggie, he sees her as his old pal Moth-Man, this was a nice little trick, showing us further how Reggie see’s the world and what he wants.
This type of storytelling is extremely complex, so we are very fortunate that Gary Franks is as good as he is. As Johns stated in an interview, this project is hard to picture without Franks art.
Brad Anderson needs to be acknowledged for his colors most definitely. The subtle and subdued nature of the flashback scenes in the other universe are starkly contrasted to the DCU scenes, with a very slight flair to them. Weather this is intentional or not, it is a fantastic showcase of the different universes.
Cover Art – 4: Amazingly rendered by Gary Frank… But its obscurity wouldn’t make me want to pick up and read this issue. I love the way the Pancakes emulate Rorschach’s mask, but not enough to make me love this as the main cover.
Variant Cover Art – 5: I like this cover a hell of a lot more, as it made more sense for the issue. It is beautifully drawn by Gary Frank again. Just seeing Rorschach leave a burning building makes you want to know why he blew it up in the first place.
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