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A classic in the making

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Matt Withers, Arts Editor

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“Watchmen” by Alan Moore is considered to be the greatest comics of all time, and when the rumblings of a possible sequel began in 2016, fans were both excited and nervous.

Moore wrote “Watchmen” at DC Comics in 1986. Because of its dark themes and gritty violence, it was decided that Moore would have to create his own characters and it would take place in his own world, one without superheroes.

Since it is so iconic, many fans of the classic book feel that it should be left alone without a sequel in any form whatsoever, but due to it being so famous, of course DC has tried to capitalize on it. In 2012 DC release a prequal book featuring the adventures of the main characters before the events of “Watchmen.” This was said to be a cash grab by fans and critics alike, none of the “Before Watchmen” books even came close to the original work.

All these reasons combined makes it so surprising that author Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank deliver a first issue that promises to live up to the legacy of the masterwork before it with the comic book “Doomsday Clock.” Before diving into this book (and therefore review) be warned that it will contain spoilers for “Watchmen” so if you haven’t read that yet, you should.

“Doomsday Clock” opens in 1992, seven years after “Watchmen.” The world has found of that the peace between Russia and America was based on a lie that killed thousands of people at the end of the original book. The world is no longer on the brink of nuclear war… nuclear war is here.

The vigilante Rorschach appears in a prison, which confuses many of the prisoners because he’s supposed to be dead. As Rorschach finds who he is looking for, we are shown the shaking hand of a worried solider asking if he really has to launch his nuke. We are shown multiple panels of Rorschach turning the key to the cell and the solider launching the nuke, signaling to the reader that by opening this cell, Rorschach is starting the end of the world.

It is quickly established that this is not the same Rorschach that was in “Watchmen” and when characters ask him for proof he simply shows his hand, revealing that he is African American. Ozymandias, the man who tricked the world into peace, is dying of brain cancer and before he dies he wants to find Dr. Manhattan and save the world.

The book cuts to modern day Metropolis as Superman is having a nightmare about the night his parents died in a car accident. He wakes up screaming and five feet off the bed. His wife Lois Lane comforts him and she mentions that she can’t remember the last time that Clark had a nightmare. He simply tells her “I don’t think I’ve ever had one.”

Geoff Johns does a spectacular job capturing the tone and voice of “Watchmen.” As most first issues usually are, it is relatively slow (even though the world is being nuked), but that is exactly what it needed to be. It lays the ground work for the 11 issues to come and expands on ideas of the original with out insulting it or its fans. The mystery of how these two worlds will connect, who the new Rorschach is, and how Superman will react the chaos that is “Watchmen.”

Gary Frank was the perfect choice for art. He has this way with faces that is realistic and distinct. You can feel the pain and insanity behind the eyes of the prisoners, but also the concern Lois has for the man she loves as she holds him after a nightmare. The harsh reds and browns of the world of the “Watchmen” contrasted with the soft blues of the mainline DC universe creates a clear distinction between the two in the readers minds.

Everything about “Doomsday Clock” screams that it is a classic in the making. Whether you’re a diehard DC fan or just a casual reader who enjoyed “Watchmen,” this issue promises a story that might be on par with the classic. The question remains, can Johns and Frank stick the landing? As are both esteemed comic creators, their track records say yes, but the ego of writing a “Watchmen” sequel could still get to there heads.

Even if the story gets away from them, if you’re a fan of the medium of comic books, “Doomsday Clock” is an absolute must. It is not only a continuation of the greatest graphic novel of all time, but also a modernizing of its themes of nuclear destruction and the self-destructive nature of society. The “Doomsday Clock” is striking midnight and I couldn’t be more excited to see where it goes from here.

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A classic in the making