Doomsday Clock #4 Review: An Unneeded and Unwanted Origin Issue

Rorschach wakes up in Arkham Asylum, and, true to his title, battles the other inmates almost immediately. His stay in Arkham is interspersed with scenes from his last stay in a mental institution, which was shortly after the New York City Massacre perpetrated by Ozymandias' monster.

Doomsday Clock #4 cover by Gary Frank and Brad Anderson
Doomsday Clock #4 cover by Gary Frank and Brad Anderson

This issue of Doomsday Clock serves as an origin issue for the new Rorschach. While fleshing out your main characters is a good idea almost every time, a backstory to the new Rorschach seems superfluous.

There's no way to talk about Doomsday Clock without referring to Watchmen like I'm a Pokemon, and my name is "Watchmen." I hope that's beyond clear four issues into this story. In fact, I suspect I will be talking about that in more detail in a couple of days, as I've been rereading Watchmen to compare with Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's venture here.

In any case, this longform profile on Rorschach removes the mystery from this successor while bringing the pacing of the overall story to a grinding halt. Yes, I'm aware that this corresponds to the profile on Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen #4, but we didn't know anything really about Manhattan at that point beyond his powers and how others perceived him. Plus, the entire story rested on his intent since he is, you know, effectively a god.

You see, merely picking up the mantle of someone like Rorschach says a lot about a character from the outset. Imagine someone taking up the mantle of the Punisher after Frank Castle bites it. The fact that his internal monologue mirrors Walter Kovacs' says more. That's before we even touch on the fanboyish need to have a Rorschach in this story in the first place.

That's not to say that it's all bad. Rorschach's backstory isn't the most interesting or original, but the writ-large madness element and the blending of the two storytelling settings are good ideas. Rorschach's friend during his first asylum stay is a charming callback to the original story too.

Doomsday Clock #4 art by Gary Frank and Brad Anderson
Doomsday Clock #4 art by Gary Frank and Brad Anderson

Gary Frank's artwork continues to be enthrallingly beautiful. The world is heavily detailed, cruel, and dense with shadow. He plays well with the gore. Brad Anderson's color art is aptly restrained and as oppressive as the line art.

Doomsday Clock #4 is a wildly mediocre entry in the end. It has some interesting ideas, and its ambition almost outshines the paradoxical adherence to the source material. Frank and Anderson make the comic visually stunning. I can recommend it if you're absorbed by the series, as this will likely still have you hooked. However, I wouldn't call it a must-buy.

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Joshua DavisonAbout Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.
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