Here it is guys, this is the issue! The dominoes begin to fall, the plans are set in motion and the plot thickens! Sorry, I’m a bit excited but this issue was really, well, exciting. But heck, let’s not just stop at discussing how great this issue was; let’s check out Doomsday Clock issue #8.
The issue begins with Lois Lane at the Daily Planet complaining to her colleagues that someone’s gone through her desk and Perry White complaining on how she hasn’t turned in her story on the “Supermen Theory”. They’re both interrupted by a news broadcast reporting the actions of Firestorm in Russia. If you remember from previous issues he was one of the heroes accused of being a government stooge. Now he’s not helping his case by engaging Russia’s big super team The Winter Guar… I mean the People’s Heroes in combat, blaming them for ruining his life. Also not helping his case is his messy fighting which gives Negative Woman the opportunity to knock him down to the ground to be surrounded and harassed by Russian civilians. This leads him to freak out and explode. Now when I mean explode, I don’t mean the traditional Big Boom. In this instance Firestorm the Nuclear Man glasses the civilians… and I literally mean “glasses” as all the civilians in his vicinity are turned into glass.
Back at the Planet, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, and the rest of the news staff are in shock at Firestorm’s actions, giving Clark a reason to pay a visit to Kahndaq as Superman to find the Firestorm. Upon his arrival he’s greeted by refugees, both non-powered and powered. They’re enjoying life and living peacefully among each other, as some of the powered persons are villains and others are heroes. He’s brought to Black Adam who shows Superman around Kahndaq, introducing him to more refugees, demonstrating the open nature of the nation, and denying that Firestorm is there, knowing that’s the reason for Superman’s arrival. He also tries to tell Superman not to fall into the “Supermen Theory” as that’s something he actually believes in, leading to an argument between the two. The conversation ends with Superman leaving to find Firestorm and Black Adam asking him to mention to the all meta-humans that Kahndaq welcomes them in protection from their puppeteer governments.
Later in the day at the Daily Planet, Lois finds a mysterious package with a flash drive containing an old newsreel from the 40s but it’s not just any old news reel. It showcases the Justice Society of America! This universe being technically the Prime Earth of the New 52/Rebirth continuity there is no JSA. Or is there?
The Man of Steel has finally located Firestorm in Russia, in an abandoned nuclear plant. He’s a mess trying and failing to turn one of his victims back into flesh and blood. In the midst of arguing with himself (Ronnie Raymond arguing with Professor Martin Stein, the two people who make up the hero), Superman lends a helping hand to Firestorm’s problems. Ronnie has the ability to transmute elements but not anything organic. At least not until today. With that explanation, Ronnie starts to break down again but Superman gives him the old Christopher Reeve uplifting speech sprinkled with that classic Superman charm, and with the old college try, Firestorm transforms a little glass statue back into a real boy.
Meanwhile, back at Red Square in Moscow, President Putin is giving a speech regarding American meta-human aggressions against Russia, specifically that of Firestorm’s recent attack. He also accuses the United States of amassing a meta-human army. The speech is interrupted by the arrival of Superman who attempts to defuse the situation and clear things up. Putin allows him to speak as, while he fights for truth, justice, and the American way, he also speaks for all people, not just Americans. In trying to calm the situation down for both Firestorm and the escalation and impact of the “Supermen Theory”, Superman picks a side on the matter, speaking out against the theory. Batman, currently in the Batwing on his way to Red Square and listening to the speech, tries to argue with Clark over the comms to try to stop him from picking a side but fails. The crowd, the People’s Heroes, and Vladimir Putin all rally against what Superman has to say, with Comrade President calling Firestorm an American agent and still raising the point that he “killed” all those people.
Just in time, Firestorm arrives with the boy he transmogrified in an attempt to try and fix the situation and clear his name. Unfortunately the Russian government wasn’t about to let any American super people try anything else in their country and opens fire on Firestorm, with Superman getting in the way of the bullets to protect the kid. The bullets that bounce off the Man of Steel hit some of the glass people and shatter them. This pisses off Firestorm, who tries to stop the Russian military from shattering more glass people but also provokes the People’s Heroes to attack the Americans. The combination of the recklessness of the Russians fighting the superheroes and Superman’s attempt to halt further destruction of the glass people ends in Firestorm distraught at the sight of the destruction. Superman tries to help Ronnie simmer down but is warned by Batman on the comms that Ronnie isn’t Ronnie, or Jason Rouche, or Martin Stein… In fact he’s not even Firestorm! As he says this, Firestorm detonates in a big blue, Dr. Manhattan-esque way, hitting everything in the vicinity. The issue ends with a lost TV signal being viewed by Lois Lane in her apartment and Ozymandias in an undisclosed location, remarking “It Begins”.
Wow, this issue was fantastic! Much like the previous issue, the payoffs are great and the setups for the series continuing forward are something I can’t wait to see. I think the strength of this issue is that a lot happens while very little happens. Let me explain. So the issue revolves mainly around Superman and his journey to find and help Firestorm in the aftermath of his glass incident. At the same time the build-up of tension between the US and Russia over meta-humans continues, more information on the JSA is brought to light, Black Adam’s role and presence is elevated and the Watchmen characters seem to play their respective hands. The further this DC vs. Watchmen idea gets, the more I argue with myself over whether or not this is a good idea but I’ll reserve judgement until issue 12. Until then I’m gonna enjoy the ride especially when we get some of the best writing from Geoff Johns and spectacular art from Gary Frank. Also of note, the back page of this issue is a fun way to show the reaction from the end of the issue, as they’re all newspaper headlines that ask where Superman is and why he did what he did. On a side note, I remember people taking issue with this issue because of the use of current events like Putin and Bashar Al-Assad and the Syrian Crisis. While you can endlessly argue the place comics has in politics in my opinion I think the use of specific current events like this is adequate commentary on what’s happening in the world. In the original Watchmen, political overtones were present throughout the story, specifically Cold War tensions, so it’s only right to have a correlation between a conflict and the stories at hand. Anyway this was a great issue and I really can’t wait to see what happens next, and yes, I know I keep saying that but this cliffhanger has really got my attention more so than the first 7 issues.
Verdict: 9/10 Justice Society of America Members