***Major Spoilers for Doomsday Clock #4.***
This will be the first of two posts about Doomsday Clock #4.
I’m used to liking some books and movies that a lot of people don’t like, and I’m okay with that. I like to think that this means that I don’t let Twitter, Rotten Tomatoes, fan petitions, and comment sections determine my opinions or tastes, and not simply that I have bad taste.
So.I’m not surprised to find myself unperturbed by developments in Doomsday Clock that have triggered some people’s outrage reflexes. A lot of Moore fans (well, maybe just a few people plus Moore himself, who tweeted that he will be “spitting venom all over” the book) are upset about the book’s very existence, about Rorschach being “resurrected,” and about the revelation in Doomsday Clock #2 that the Comedian (Edward Blake) is alive and well in the DC Universe. And the same people are going to be angry at the revelation in Doomsday Clock #3 that at the moment the Comedian was falling from his apartment window, his bloodstained button tumbling with him, Dr. Manhattan plucked him out of the air of his universe and dropped him into Metropolis Harbor in the DC Universe.
What this does is introduce a paradox into Watchmen. Since Blake’s death sets into motion the events of Watchmen, his removal before his death would seem to erase the Watchmen story as we know it. But we know that this can’t be the case because Doomsday Clock #1’s plot depends upon the events of Watchmen having happened the way they were depicted by Moore and Gibbons. So any way you slice it, Johns and Frank are tampering with Watchmen. I’m not bothered in the least.
Now don’t get me wrong. I understand why someone would get upset. Watchmen (along with The Dark Knight Returns) gave superhero comics a respectability that they had never had before. And even though I ultimately part ways with Moore about a lot of ideas, few comics have even come close to the level of sophistication, complexity, and artistry of Watchmen. Moreover, it was a self-contained story set outside the DC Universe, which allowed Moore to use the tale to deconstruct (I hate using that word) and critique the very idea of superheroes. So for Johns and Frank to not only come along and bring Moore’s characters into DC continuity but to also to do things that ultimately alter the meaning of Watchmen—well, I get why some might consider it too much.
I’m not upset because devotees of Alan Moore who consider what Johns is doing to be blasphemous are perfectly free to ignore Doomsday Clock. Or they can “spit venom” on it. (Or they can buy copies of it “covered in Alan Moore’s venom” while “kneeing” in Moore’s presence.)
More importantly, I’m not upset because Watchmen deserves to be answered—and ought to be answered. It deserves an answer because it is truly a great piece of art, and I think that it ought to be answered because ultimately, it’s too pessimistic in its view of the world. Moore wrote a masterpiece of sequential art and used it to convey a deep cynicism about the world, about people, and about superheroes. While I can read and enjoy Watchmen—and even find myself challenged by it—I have thought since I read it that it needs an answer, a rebuttal. And I can want that rebuttal while still recognizing the genius of Moore’s and Gibbons’ work.
Though at this point it’s difficult to see how, Johns strongly hinted from the beginning (as far back as Rebirth) that Doomsday Clock would be that rebuttal, so I am willing to give him and Frank the time to do it (as well as my money).