The Reconstruction of the Superhero, part four: Doomsday Clock #5

by Drew Kiess

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The following contains spoilers for Doomsday Clock #5

There Is No God

With every issue released of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Doomsday Clock, we find ourselves in a much darker world. Finding stories in our real world to be inspired by is becoming increasingly difficult, and we all seem to be living in a world without heroes.

I’m not even sure Alan Moore himself would have written a script this twisted.

“There Is No God” is the fifth chapter of the follow-up to Moore’s Watchmen. The Supermen Theory is becoming reality daily, and Lex Luthor’s would-be assassin Adrian Veidt is recovering from a fall in the hospital. Hawk and Dove have been arrested in St Petersburg for political rioting, and the world is falling apart.

What we have seen over the past several years is the decay of real-life heroes. In the age of the internet, it’s only a matter of time before every good guy has his dirty skeleton drug out of the closet and put on display. In many ways, this is what 1986 did to comic book superheroes.

While the intention of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns was never to turn the world of superheroes into the world of dark and brooding, it certainly had that effect on the industry. It’s well documented how serious superhero stories became in light of the success of those books.

Superheroes have always reflected the culture in some way, but originally, that reflection was always reversed—a mirror in which to see that we could do and be better.

Action Comics #1 is about a man standing up for the poor and the weak. It was written by two poor Jewish boys from Cleveland, Ohio. It reflected their world, but wasn’t about presenting the world as it was, but as they hoped it could be. A savior, finally come. An Übermensch come to set things right.

And for some time, we cheered with glee as the hero prevailed. Evil loses, good wins and everyone cheers. But at some point we came to believe that the hero had to be flawed, had to lose from time to time, and might even be part of the problem.

Superman Is The Only Thing You Can Believe In

Johnny Thunder in this series, at least for me, represents an era of comics-gone-by. Him and the Legion have always been something of a relic from the golden (and even somewhat silver) age of comic books. As we know, the Legion is gone and Thunder is aimless. This has been the most captivating element of this book so far, inasmuch as it’s the story with the least amount of revelations. What exactly is Johnny hoping to accomplish, and what in the world does the Lantern have to do with it?

Rorschach saves Thunder from being mugged. In this moment, a character with a legacy of death and cynicism saves a character from a simpler, more optimistic time. Maybe heroes do still exists.

Meanwhile, Superman himself makes his first appearance since the closing panel of the first chapter. While the story has yet to give him much to do, he overhears that is a metahuman that is responsible for Supermen Theory, adding to the mystery. Can we trust our heroes, especially the good ones?

Everything Evens Out

While this issue is light on narrative, its subtext is rich. The things we hope in determines our path in life. Are we resigned to the failures of our heroes? Must we fall prey to the negativity around us? If Superman over the years has taught us anything, it’s that hope in a better world than our own is never misplaced.

While the thesis is that there is no God, the trajectory is faith. This isn’t Moore’s world anymore. Superman isn’t Manhattan, and so there is hope to be had that good will, in fact, win. While this may not have been the most memorable or ground breaking issue, but it has given me much to think about over the last few weeks. The Reconstruction continues.

 

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” -Tolkien

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