As Doomsday Clock finds itself winding down with only a few more issues to go, (as well as another delay), it’s time for us to catch you guys up on “Justice League v. Watchmen: Crisis of Crises”.
OK bad joke, I kid.
Don’t kill me! I’ve got a crippling amount of student debt to pay off.
Anyhow, let’s pick up where we left off in 2018 and discuss the next 2 chapters in this ambitious crossover.
OBVIOUS SPOILER WARNINGS!! TREAD NO FURTHER TRADE WAITERS!!!
Issue 4 picks up with Rorschach II, a.k.a. Reggie, in Arkham Asylum, being imprisoned by Batman after their encounter last issue. Reggie’s inner monologue dreams of pancakes in place of the reality of Arkham mess hall mystery mush. He dreams of better times as well as how he’s come to be in this hell-scape of a life. Yep, it’s an exposition issue folks with Reggie’s backstory inter-cut with his time at Arkham. So be prepared for questions about Reggie to be answered to this issue’s best ability. So let’s cut to the chase, Reggie is the son of Malcolm Long, the original Rorschach’s psychologist from Watchmen. We get to see a bit of his life before the accident, a news broadcast about Dr. Manhattan’s involvement in Vietnam during Reggie’s childhood, Dr. Manhattan protests by students at his college, his Father’s mental exhaustion due to his work with Rorschach, and finally Reggie’s witness to Ozymandias’ plans to destroy New York to “save the world”. Yes, Reggie was there with front row seats to the event, but luckily wasn’t in the murder zone.
We cut back to the present where Reggie is being questioned by one of Arkham’s many psychologists, which in turn, trigger his bad memories of the accident. As it turns out surviving a giant squid attack will leave one a little mad. It also turns out that Arkham isn’t Reggie’s first time in an asylum. In fact he was in a place just as bad as Arkham and the orderlies there did not help with his P.T.S.D. This led Reggie to try to escape the institution via rooftop one night, only to find Bryon Lewis, a.k.a. Moth man, one of the original Minutemen from the Watchmen universe.
Mothman gives him a pep talk about seeing what you want to see before he jumps off the roof and glides away from the asylum. While Mothman’s escape attempt was botched, Reggie takes his words to heart and uses them to avoid electroshock therapy. Over time he becomes somewhat of a student of Mothman who becomes a little more successful in his escapes. He brings back souvenirs for himself and Reggie, going so far as to bring him his dad’s notes on the original Rorschach on Christmas. Using his time to train and study the notes of Malcolm Long, as well as paying attention to the news reports about Ozymandias, culminates in Reggie’s escape from the institution after finding out that Adrian/Ozy may have actually been behind the squid attack, (which we already knew). The night of the escape Reggie lights a fire to clear everyone out of the asylum. Bryon returns to the burning building, saying that the light was “calling to him”, but not before giving Reggie one last gift: a letter detailing his hopes for his goals, a ticket for transportation to Ozy’s home, and Rorschach's mask. Reggie makes it through to Ozy’s base and attempts to kill him before finding out that Adrian already knew he was there, even asking this new Rorschach to make it quick
Apparently Ozymandias regrets his actions in New York and it also put him on death’s door, as he’s been diagnosed with some form of cancer so Reggie decides to help him. The last two pages bring us back to the present where Saturn Girl/Jane Doe, breaks Reggie out with Batman, who reveals himself to be the psychologist that was talking to Reggie. The comic ends with Reggie’s internal monologue explaining what the light means relating it to the “see what you want to see” thinking that Mothman taught him, no matter how big or small, juxtaposed to a mosquito getting zapped and the subsequent smoke forming Doctor Manhattan’s hydrogen symbol.
In issue 5 we see the police have apprehended Ozymandias after he escaped the Comedian by jumping out of the top window of the Lex Corp building, as covered in our review of issues 2 & 3. He’s a little banged up from falling twenty stories, but other than that the doctor says he’s fine, making a comment about how God must be watching out for him. She also asks his armed guards where he’s being transferred to but considering that he “attacked Lex Luthor in a purple costume”, he’s certainly gonna be someone else's problem. The cops and doctor leave the room, giving Adrian enough time to wake up, figure out his situation, and fake a flat line to trick the police into thinking he’s dying. He frees himself and Bubastis, and sneaks out of the hospital dressed as a cop.
We shift to the Daily Planet where Lois Lane and Perry White are arguing over a change he made to her article to infer that Lex’s would-be assassin (Ozymandias) is a metahuman. Lois feels this is an obvious lie to sell more papers. She storms out to complain to Clark Kent about the Supermen Theory who, along with the rest of the Planet staff, is watching a press conference on the Russian response to the American metahuman problem. Mirrored to the news report on Russia is the now escaped Rorschach II and Saturn Girl stopping off to grab her a costume, as well as the escape of Johnny Thunder from his nursing home, with one group in search of Doctor Manhattan and the other in search of Alan Scott, (the original Green Lantern)’s lantern.
Now it may seem like I’m jumping around but after the earlier escape of Ozymandias, each page is dedicated to a different part of the story. For instance, the next page details Ozy’s return to the Archimedes, Nite-Owl II’s ship. He’s met by Batman who read the original Rorschach's notes. The page after that shows the Comedian on the hunt for the other characters from the Watchmen universe. Speaking of hunts our twisted couple, Marionette and Mime, are still looking for the Joker. They cut through the Joker Gang until they scare the location of their meeting place (the Bat signal) out of them.
Switching back to Batman and Ozy, the two start arguing about their respective purposes. Batman found out what Adrian did on his earth and is partially blaming him for what’s happening on this earth. Adrian tells Batman that the problems are a result of his own actions as he bashes the whole idea of caped crusaders while flying above the anti-Batman protests still going on.
Cut to Lois Lane questioning a recovering Lex Luthor on the Supermen Theory. He’s all too happy to answer as he’s done some digging on the topic, revealing to her that the government official behind it is a metahuman and was at one point on the Justice League. From there until the end, the story splits between Johnny Thunder’s quest for Alan’s Scott’s Lantern and Batman and the Watchmen characters in Gotham City. On Johnny’s side of the story, he’s able to make it to the All-American Steel factory Pittsburgh but almost gets mugged by some drug-addled thugs looking to break into the place.
Meanwhile back in Gotham, Batman and Ozymandias continue argue over which one of them is right, breaking out into a fist fight when Ozy starts to use Archimedes on the riot below. This leads to Ozy losing control of the vehicle, throwing the dark knight out and leaving him at the mercy of the rioters. Also we see more news reports about Black Adam and his open invitation to all metahumans who feel persecuted to come to Kahndaq. The issue winds down with Johnny Thunder finding the lantern but the thugs from earlier catch up to him and beat him up with the lantern. They’re about to kill him when Saturn Girl and Rorschach II rescue him. Rorschach brutalizes the thugs and later asks Johnny what the purpose of the lantern is. We conclude the issue in Gotham, where Marionette and Mime look down on the riot from the top of the GCPD building and are interrupted by the Joker who is interrupted by one of his henchmen telling him that they captured Batman. The last panel shows a beaten caped crusader.
And so we continue our journey of Doomsday Clock and it has still yet to seriously disappoint its audience. My biggest gripe, aside from the delays, would be that Issue 4 was just one big exposition dump on the identity and backstory of the second Rorschach, which is not necessarily bad as it does answer a chunk of questions, but it feels like the story stopped to overhaul. Other than that, both issues do a good job of continuing the journey in the search for Doctor Manhattan. Geoff Johns is still doing some quality work here. Gary Frank on art is absolutely killing it. The fact that his Superman is drawn to look like Christopher Reeves is just a cherry on top of the rest of the beautiful pages we’re getting here. All that being said while some of the extra bits of this series are still a bit unclear, (mostly the detective serials that are used similarly to the Black Freighter comic from Watchmen), but like the original hopefully once I read the series as a whole it will make more sense. Other extras like the magazine pages in the back of the issues detailing the metahuman crisis across the world and the small cameos and nods, like All-American Steel, (the name of the comic which Alan Scott first appeared) or which heroes make up their respective international teams are all a nice touch. So far so good, hopefully this book will stick the landing.
Verdict: 8.5/10 Supermen Theorists