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Doomsday Clock #8 Annotated, Pt 1: Superman, Russians & A F*d-Up Firestorm

[WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS for Doomsday Clock #8 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, on sale now.]

As Doomsday Clock hits the two-thirds point, the endgame isn't much clearer but the sense of looming dread remains. Because Issue #8 focuses almost exclusively on DC-Earth superheroes, in some ways it is the least Watchmen-esque installment so far. Arguably, though, that gives the issue's events even more impact.

In putting together these annotations, we noticed a lot of characters and situations were set up back in issue #5, so this may be a good time to catch up on the miniseries so far, and that issue in particular. We don't think it's too spoilerrific to say that, although by this point we shouldn't have to warn you there will be plenty of spoilers from here on out.

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Doomsday Clock issue #8 was written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Gary Frank, colored by Brad Anderson and lettered by Rob Leigh. Amie Brockaway-Metcalf designed the text pages. Brian Cunningham was the Editor, with Amedeo Turturro as Associate Editor. As if you didn't know, it is based in no small part on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen.

First, A Clarification

Last time, we noted that Watchmen "never deviated" from a nine-panel grid. What we should have said was that the nine-panel grid was the foundation of all of the series' layouts. Like Sean Connery, we should know to never say "never," because of course Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons used a variety of layouts. For example, sometimes one panel would take up the top two-thirds of a page (as seen in issue #1, when Rorschach climbs through the Comedian's window), but that panel would be the same basic size and shape as the first two rows of three panels in a regular grid.

Accordingly, what we were trying to say was that all of Watchmen's layouts were based around that basic three-by-three grid. We even looked through Dave Gibbons' Watching The Watchmen book, which has thumbnail layouts for every page, and didn't see any deviation there. Therefore, we regret our choice of words, and hope this clears things up.

Now, on with the show!

You Will Believe A Clock Can Doom (Pages 2-3)

Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve), Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) and Perry White (Jackie Cooper) in 1978's Superman

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December 15, 2018 is the 40th anniversary of 1978's Superman movie, starring Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder and directed by Richard Donner. Since Geoff Johns was once Donner's assistant, it's not surprising that Superman has influenced Johns' Superman comics. The first sequence in the Daily Planet is no exception, with a couple of callbacks to the first two Reeve movies.

Page 2 features a news vendor corraling a shoplifter, not unlike Superman's blind news vendor stopping Otis (Ned Beatty) from stealing a pretzel. Lois' freshly-squeezed orange juice comes from her fad-diet flirtation in Superman II. Later, on Page 3, Perry's "Why am I buying you breakfast when I should be docking your pay?" reminds us of a similar line in Superman: "Olsen! Why am I paying you forty dollars a week when I should have you arrested for loitering?" Likewise, Page 3's "blue vs. navy" bit recalls Kidder's Lois referring to Clark's stereotypical "sweet gray-haired old mother," and Reeve's Clark correcting her: "Actually, she's silver-haired."

As it happens, the phrase "drink [the] Kool-Aid" (Page 2) just had its own macabre 40th anniversary. By the fall of 1978 Reverend Jim Jones (May 13, 1931-November 18, 1978) had moved his Peoples Temple from San Francisco to Guyana. When a Congressional delegation visited Jones' commune on November 18 to investigate allegations of human rights violations, five of them were murdered by Jones' armed guards. Jones then killed over 900 of his followers by ordering them to drink cyanide-laced Flavor Aid; and then shot himself in the head.

On a happier note, James Bartholomew "Jimmy" Olsen makes his D-Clock debut on Page 3. Jimmy was created for the Adventures of Superman radio serial, and appeared first on the April 15, 1940 episode. Although an anonymous copyboy in November 1938's Action Comics issue #6 is now considered to be Jimmy, he made his first comics appearance in November-December 1941's Superman issue #13.

Page 3 also shows us a couple of familiar Planet staffers. Marv Wolfman and Jerry Ordway created Catherine Jane "Cat" Grant for January 1987's Adventures of Superman issue #424, while Ordway and Tom Grummett created Ronald "Ron" Troupe for July 1991's Adventures of Superman issue #480.

Page 3 isn't Perry White's first Doomsday Clock appearance. He showed up in issue #5, and honestly we're not sure how we missed mentioning him then. Like Jimmy Olsen, Perry first appeared on the Adventures of Superman radio serial, specifically on February 14, 1940. His first comics appearance was November 1940's Superman issue #7.

On Page 3, Perry encourages Clark to "ditch the [aforementioned] blue suit." While this may well be Perry's unintentional reference to the Superman costume, we note that for much of the Silver and Bronze Ages, Superman kept his civilian clothes in a hidden pocket of his cape. They were treated with a chemical which allowed them to be folded into tiny squares. However, the chemical only worked on red, white and blue fabrics; so Clark's wardrobe didn't have much range.

When Perry notes that "[c]lose only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades," he's quoting the great Baltimore Oriole Frank Robinson (born August 31, 1935). In the July 31, 1973 issue of Time magazine, Robinson said that "[c]lose doesn't count in baseball. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." As for "horseshoes," it's a game wherein players take turns tossing horseshoes at a spike in the ground. We apologize if that sounds condescending, and we really don't want to have some sort of "you kids with your apps don't remember the old agrarian sports" attitude, but we're just trying to be complete.

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