Biff Bam Pop’s Editor-In-Chief Andy Burns and I often talk Watchmen.
We talk about Watchmen, the original, seminal, comic book series published by DC Comics in the mid-1980’s, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons.
We talk about Watchmen, the visually stunning, if slavish and somewhat emotionally dry 2009 film, directed by Zack Snyder.
We talk about the sort-of-prequel Before Watchmen series of comic book titles, also published by DC Comics in 2012, written and illustrated by a who’s who of comic book talent.
We talk about the new and acclaimed HBO Watchmen television series by show-runner Damon Lindelof, which just aired its eighth and last episode. Well, it was only ever supposed to last one season, right?
It seems that there’s always a reason to talk about Watchmen. That’s a testament to the greatness and ongoing relevance of the original series.
That brings us to Doomsday Clock, a twelve-part tale from DC Comics that aimed to, finally, merge the original Watchmen story and characters, along with its creative and corporate status as one of the greatest graphic novels in comic book history, with Superman, Batman and the rest of the DC Universe comic book characters.
Today sees the culmination of that endeavour: the release of part twelve and the last issue of Doomsday Clock.
But this clock, you see, has always been ticking a bit late.
DC Comics would have wanted to fold the vision of creators Moore and Gibbons into the DC Universe proper years ago. Watchmen was always a financial success…and corporations like Warner Brothers, the parent of DC Comics, long for intellectual property that they can bleed into a positive bottom line.
Watchmen, however, was a creation of Moore and Gibbons and it was a creative “hands-off” approach for the better part of two decades, even though the publisher continued (and continues) to publish that original series. It’s a quirk of copyright law and contracts and creative control, if not moral rights, and you can read about it elsewhere.
It’s pretty heavy stuff.
Doomsday Clock #1 was first published in November 2017. It was meant to be released in twelve monthly increments, finishing in late 2018 wherein, it was thought, that DC Comics would have some kind of new status quo for its universe (or universes) of superheroes.
But this clock was broken.
Doomsday Clock ran late. So much so, that in 2018 the series skipped entire months and moved to a bi-monthly schedule, after which, it still ran late.
And if there was any enjoyment by readers of the title, it easily evaporated when important chapters were nowhere to be found and everyone was left waiting.
For whatever reason, and there are probably many, an “important” series like Doomsday Clock wasn’t important enough to make a regular schedule.
Many readers believed that if the series wasn’t going to be published like, um, clockwork, if Doomsday Clock wasn’t going to consider its pop culture purveyors important, then their interest in the series would, in turn, wind down. And comic book shop owners asked why they should even stock half-time compilations of the series, knowing that a complete book would undoubtedly soon be published.
Like I said, Andy Burns and I talk Watchmen, and he recently reiterated to me that “entertainment needs momentum, no matter what.”
It’s a shame, really, because as much as I despised the idea of the modern DC Comics rifling through the pockets of that original classic once more, there were some really enjoyable aspects to Doomsday Clock.
If nothing else, the series reminded this writer of how great the character of Nathaniel Dusk, Private Investigator, truly is. And I ask myself: when will we see his comic book stories (there are eight published issues by the esteemed writer, Don McGregor, and legendary artist, Gene Colon) compiled in a wonderful hardcover Omnibus or Absolute edition?
Funny how one title can make you ponder another.
Gary Frank’s art on Doomsday Clock is a visual marvel, it must be said. But I can’t help but think what if this was the 1980s, the decade in which Watchmen was originally conceived and produced? What if Doomsday Clock would have been a tighter story told in six issues, all published monthly and on time, instead of the twelve that we got over a two-year span?
Still, it remains to be seen if there are lasting repercussions for this story, either creatively or monetarily.
Certainly, it looks like some of the characters featured in Doomsday Clock will become main protagonists and antagonists of the DC Universe, going forward. It looks like Batman is a lock for a larger rogues gallery – even if some of those characters are thin reproductions of ones we already know.
Superman once again stands for truth and justice, even though he may be the ultimate destroyer of worlds. A tale told before.
What’s original? What’s revision? What’s lasting? What can, or continue to be, creatively appropriated?
That’s what Doomsday Clock is ultimately asking.
It’s November 2017 and I’m reading Doomsday Clock #1.
It’s December 2019 and I’m reading Doomsday Clock #12.
More than two years of my life has passed, but for DC Comics, nothing much has changed.
Except, perhaps, everything.
Let’s read Doomsday Clock #12 together – and decide.
The weekly The Wednesday Run continues its hiatus for a few more months in order for JP Fallavollita to spend time moving address locations, setting up an office, and putting together shelving to stack his formidable comic book collection. All after assembling a new pop-culture-themed playroom for his son and daughter, of course! Then he might catch up on some overdue comic book reading, right before continuing with #TheWednesdayRun in early 2020!
Until then, make your weekly Wednesday run – and see you at the local comic book store!