Deconstructing the Doomsday Clock #4

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Doomsday Clock #4

From the "Oh Yeah, They're Still Doing That" Department: DC Comics DOOMSDAY CLOCK #4 continues the story that brings the universe of WATCHMEN into that of the DCU proper, as the hunt for Dr. Manhattan continues. Slowly.

I appreciate that Geoff Johns is going for the "slow burn" in storytelling, but the slow burn only works well when the story overall is fast paced in terms of overall delivery and production. Having to wait two months between issues lets the burn fizzle out. 

What we do get this issue is the origin of the new Rorschach, as he muddles his way through life in Arkham Asylum. And no, I still haven't processed the fact that Batman has admitting privilieges to Arkham to the point that he can commit an inmate there without trial or even a psychological exam from a licensed psychiatrist. That's probably his scariest non-super power to date!

It also turns out I was close to the mark when I first theorized that the new Rorschach was Malcolm Long, until DC revealed his name was Reggie. In this issue, we learn that he is Reggie Long, the son of Malcolm Long, and that he learned of Rorschach through his father's notes. We also find that this is not Reggie's first time committed to a psychiatric facility; on his Earth, he was institutionalized after the destruction of Manhattan, being at Ground Zero and One Inch from the appearance of the psychic monster created by Adrian Veidt. During his time there, he befriended Byron Lewis, the original Mothman, who taught Reggie everything he had learned by observing the original Minutemen so that Reggie could become a fighter.

This storyline takes us all the way to the point of Reggie's escape and his ultimate confrontation with Adrian Veidt shortly after the world discovers Veidt's betrayal and Veidt's own discovery that he has a brain tumor. Veidt's new outlook seems to halt the rage Reggie felt toward him, and the two of the begin their search for Doctor Manhattan, who has found a place to hide on our Earth.

Whlle in Arkham, Reggie -- admitted under the name "John Doe" -- has been surviving in true Rorschach style, and he's caught the attention of another nameless inmate, Jane Doe. We already know that a time-lost Saturn Girl is one of the characters to look for, after having seen her role in Batman and Flash installments of "The Button," and this is most likely her (and not the Jane Doe serial killer who gets inside her victims' heads before killing them and assuming their identities). We're also given several glimpses at the door of the cell of Waylon "Killer Croc" Jones, but that may just be backdrop for the vanishing point perspective of much of Gary Frank's presented view. It's such a focus, actually, that it almost distracts you from the floating photograph on the last page that is definitely Jon Osterman and Janey on their Coney Island date -- although why Manhattan would be dropping this here is curious.

We do actually get to see Batman, almost, in this installment -- once right at the end of the book, without his face, and the other at a few places inside the book where we don't realize he's there until retrospect.

Here's hoping that DOOMSDAY CLOCK can get back on a speedier release schedule, and that the action can finally start building with the DC characters getting involved.

4.0 / 5.0