Doomsday Clock is a lot of things, but boring is not one of them.
Ever since the first issue was released in November 2017, each subsequent installment has run through my own personal emotional gamut. There have been issues where once I finished the last page, I was in awe of the complex themes and intertwined narrative, giving me the feeling all comic readers who shell out month after month so desperately desire. Other issues left me feeling disappointed and wondering how a creative team with such strong pedigree could deliver such pedestrian drivel (to be fair, delays between issues don't help the manic tone of the series).
But as the story's various strings begin to unravel as the series enters its final act in Doomsday Clock #9, the gears are starting to make this unwieldy machine work as well as anyone could expect it to, and the results are comic bliss -- mostly.
As much as I admire the characters Alan Moore and David Gibbons created in their landmark twelve-issue series Watchmen, I do not consider them sacred cows. I also think Watchmen works best as a stand alone story and I don't need further exploration of the titular team. The Before Watchmen stuff was a mixed bag, but it did nothing more than elaborate on what readers already kind of knew, so even at its worse, the entire initiative was mostly harmless. But going forward in a story which had a definite ending always felt like bad idea. We got what we needed from those twelve comics.
Of course, that's not how things work in the comic book world. If there is a stone to be upturned, someone will lift it up, toss it in the air, and maybe even give it a long-lost family connection to another stone from a different dimension. If a Watchmen sequel had to happen, Doomsday Clock #9 gives the best sequel we could have hoped for. Instead of relying on heady contextualization of our current social and political climate and how they relate to the DC Pantheon of superheroes (I mean, there is some of that), Doomsday Clock #9 focuses on straight up superhero action.
This issue feels big, but not big in the way limited series with the word "Crisis" in the title feels (although, ironically, the title of this issue is just that). Doomsday Clock #9 feels big in the same sense as a lot of superhero books felt in the late '90s and early aughts. There's a cinematic quality to this issue. The stakes have been raised, lines have been drawn, and we finally feel the full brunt of worlds colliding.
Shortly after Firestorm went nuclear on a group of unsuspecting people and Superman's name was dragged through the mud for sticking up for his ally, various supergroups take the fight to Doctor Manhattan's doorstep. The opening few pages where we get several stacked silent panels giving us rundown of all the various teams involved in what could only be called an invasion of Mars, we get a sense of the series' true scope. This pantheon of champions is about to face off against a being who defies the laws of reality on a molecular level, which begs the question: How do you fight something like that? To answer that would feel a bit like a spoiler, so suffice it to say you see a side of Jon Osterman that might horrify you.
The issue's execution is solid; Johns' writing is great, and Frank is able to convey a sense of each panel feeling huge, even when it's part of a nine panel grid. When he does let loose on a half-page spread, he uses it to maximum effect. Frank is one of the top artists in the industry today, and his work on Doomsday Clock (aided by colorist Brad Anderson's brilliantly restrained palette) has been some of his best to date.
Doomsday Clock has been on one heck of a roll for a few issues, and #9 keeps the momentum moving forward like a freight train. As the series barrels into its third act, it's starting to feel like it is the Aliens to Watchmen's Alien. The original was an undeniable masterpiece which redefined a genre, and while its follow up is not nearly as sophisticated, the shift in tone it takes is bold, exciting and will most likely be compared to its predecessor for years to come, whether it sticks the landing or not.