Writer: Geoff Johns
Illustrator: Gary Frank
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Back Matter Design: Amie Brockway-Metcalf
Doomsday Clock #4 should have been called Rorschach’s story. Since the announcement of Doomsday Clock and the early art releases began to appear a lingering question is who is the new Rorschach. What’s his connection to the original and now deceased Walter Kovacs. Speculation was rampant as to who was under the ever-shifting mask. Doomsday Clock #4 answers that question.
Once upon a time on a different earth Dr. Malcolm Long was a psychiatrist with a beautiful wife, Gloria, and a wonderful son, Reggie. Together this family lived in the heart of Manhattan where Dr. Long could pursue his career and write about the criminally insane. As the assigned psychiatrist to Sing Sing prison in New York it became Dr. Long’s job to evaluate and rehabilitate Walter Kovacs AKA Rorschach. Over several issues of the original Watchmen series we see Dr. Long become obsessed and manipulated by Rorschach. He begins to question his place in society and grows distant from his family as he delved deeper and deeper into the mystery that is Rorschach’s psyche, a place so dark few would dare to probe it. What Dr. Long finds scared him and it turned him back toward the light, back toward his family, but before they could be reunited the invasion occurs. The manipulations and machinations of Adrian Veidt came to fruition and millions were killed while the survivors of the event were left traumatized and insane. Malcolm and Gloria were killed in the event. Reggie survived, or at least part of him did.
Doomsday Clock #4 is Reggie’s story. In the wake of last issue Batman has committed Reggie to Arkham Asylum. Yet this is not Reggie’s first stay in an asylum for the mentally ill and Doomsday Clock moves back and forth between his two stays, one in the DCU as he begins processing his predicament and how he will escape but the more compelling tale is of how he came to be Rorschach. Who helped guide his development, what inner demons he had to overcome, how he obtained the mask and how he came to aid Adrian Veidt, the most hated man in the world, on his path to find Dr. Manhattan. I found myself riveted by Reggie’s tale as it was sadly compelling, utterly tragic, and an all around great origin story. I never wanted the issue to end.
Geoff Johns is at the top of his game with Doomsday Clock. I know that not everyone is onboard with this event but it truly reads as a passion project for Johns and something he has been planning for years. The plot is detailed and the story is engrossing. But Doomsday Clock would be nothing without Gary Frank. The art is breathtaking, some of his best work to date and it is meticulously detailed and laid out in a manner that it feels like a direct continuation of Dave Gibbons classic work on Watchmen. Doomsday Clock is an event that will be felt for years to come and surprisingly will have a place on my bookshelf next to my numerous copies of Watchmen.