WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Doomsday Clock #2 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, in stores now.
When DC Comics announced Doomsday Clock, many fans were anxious to see how Watchmen characters like Rorschach and Doctor Manhattan would interact with such traditional superheroes as Superman and Batman. But no one could have foreseen that the event series would introduce two new characters who, in their limited time on the page, have turned out to be among the finest additions to the DC Universe in recent years: Mime and Marionette.
Like their Watchmen predecessors, Mime and Marionette were inspired by old Charlton Comics characters — in this case, Steve Ditko’s villains Punch and Jewelee. In Doomsday Clock, writer Geoff Johns and and artist Gary Frank introduce figures both familiar and entirely new at the same time. They’re central to the opening chapter of the series, as we follow the new Rorschach on his mission to break them out of prison. We get a sense of how colorful and brutal Mime and Marionette are in their introductory chapter, but it’s taken even further in this week’s Doomsday Clock #2.
Once again, the familiar characters of the DC Universe receive only a limited time on the stage. Instead, we continue to follow Rorschach, Ozymandias, Mime and Marionette as they attempt to flee their dying world. The issue doubles down on everything Mime and Marionette, showcasing an opening scene that takes place both in the past and in the present. As the two partners in crime slip back into their respective costumes in the present, we see what made them such a fearsome duo in the past.
The sequence may depict the two criminals robbing a bank, but it’s also heavy on character moments. Mime may not be able to speak, but his presence says volumes. It’s not easy to make a silent character that compelling and imposing, and yet Johns and Frank pull it off. Marionette, for her part, is all talk, but she also has a bite to match her bark. Her playfulness quickly turns to maliciousness, and she’s made all the more notable for it.
As the line between good and evil continues to blur, we’re told that things aren’t black and white any longer — and that’s very much the case with Mime and Marionette. Already, we’ve seen that both characters are violent and sadistic, and yet they contain a noticeable depth. They are both damaged, yet devoted to one another, and they’re driven by a desire to be reunited with their child. All of those qualities go a long way in humanizing the two characters, who could easily have been two-dimensional in lesser creative hands.
Two issues is all it takes to prove that Mime and Marionette are two of the greatest additions to DC Comics in recent years. In a market that’s not always receptive to new characters, they’ve just become two we want to see much more of. They may be dressed in black and white, but nothing about them is. Gray is the new lay of the land in the DCU, as it has always been in the world of Watchmen. And now, it looks as if the two characters are set to be loosed upon Gotham City, which means all kinds of insanity will surely follow.
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