Doomsday Clock #2 (February 2018)

Doomsday Clock #2

Upon reading this issue of Doomsday Clock, which is regular length instead of extended like the first, I’ve decided I’m done. I don’t care about the identity of the new Rorschach. I don’t care how Rorschach gets on with Batman. Don’t care how Veidt gets on with Lex Luthor. Or why the Comedian’s back? Or did Dr. Manhattan create the DC Universe–Johns just integrates the big rumors about the series into the book. Why not. There’s nothing else to do.

The jumping off point isn’t the cliffhanger or the trip to Earth One. It’s Batman. It’s Bruce and Lucius Fox arguing over whether or not Batman is necessary. Maybe it’s in current DC continuity, I don’t know. Something about the Superman Theory, which I thought was the name of a bad comics convention bar band, but whatever. Don’t care.

Johns isn’t trying. He’s also got a gross sexist opening he can’t get away with because he’s Geoff Johns and craven and Gary Frank’s art lacks any subjectivity. It’s too objective for gross sexist bank managers. Frank’s art invites a lot of examination Johns’s writing really can’t support. Frank’s at least trying. Johns is not.

So. No more. Clock is stopped for me.

Unless the villain’s Labo at the end and Johns is daring the original creator to sue. But maybe not even then.

CREDITS

Places We Have Never Known; writer, Geoff Johns; artist, Gary Frank; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Amedeo Turturro and Brian Cunningham; publisher, DC Comics.

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Doomsday Clock 1 (January 2018)

Doomsday Clock #1

There’s one big problem with Doomsday Clock. It exists.

And a lot of it is worse than one might expect. Apparently, in 1992, after the plan at the end of Watchmen didn’t work out, the United States elected Robert Redford president. Only he isn’t a hippie dippy Robert Redford, he’s President Trump. There’s even a wall.

So, you know, if you want to read Doomsday Clock to make fun of Geoff Johns’s writing… it provides a lot of opportunity. Is it worth reading for that reason? Depends on whether or not you want a lot of fodder for mocking Geoff Johns.

Or maybe you just want to see Gary Frank “Gary Frank” a Watchmen sequel. Only one where the DC Universe gets involved. And that crossover–albeit to a different, somewhat darker DCU (I think, has DC changed Superman’s origin lately)–gets to have the Watchmen panel layout.

You think Frank and Johns weren’t going to ape Watchmen down to the panel layouts. Please. Doomsday Clock is craven and desperate.

It also seems to be implying, after Watchmen, Nite Owl feels so shitty about Rorschach dying he takes up the mask, as it were, and lives his life aping him. Or something. It’s dumb. It’s a Watchmen sequel written by Geoff Johns. Of course it’s dumb.

It’s kind of sad how dumb it gets. Especially when Johns brings in some costumed villain sidekicks for NuRorschach. They’re terrible enough maybe they were in Before Watchmen. But I’ve blocked that previous desperate attempt from DC to turn Watchmen into a brand name from my memory.

I finished Before Watchmen though. I’m not sure I really want to see what Johns and Frank have cooked up for them in After Watchmen.

I do want to know if the team refers to themselves as The Watchmen though. I really, really hope they do. If you’re going to show the world you’re an exceptionally pedestrian writer, you might as well do it on a corporate Watchmen sequel.

Is Doomsday Clock worth the read to intellectually dissect it and roast it? For five dollars? In this economy?

CREDITS

That Annihilated Place; writer, Geoff Johns; artist, Gary Frank; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Amedeo Turturro and Brian Cunningham; publisher, DC Comics.

Tom Strong 25 (May 2004)

Tom Strong #25

The guest writers continue with Geoff Johns. He has John Paul Leon on the art for a pseudo-eclectic story of a Tom Strong fan who has the power to reshape reality when he’s upset.

Somehow Johns, who does give the guy a backstory, doesn’t realize the universe would be in shambles. Johns even mocks the guy–the reader is supposed to mock the guy. He’s unlikable in his desperation.

Still, it’s okay. Johns writes the cast well–he too is obviously a Tom Strong fan and Leon’s art is an interesting forced mismatch with the series style. There’s rain in a lot of the issue. Leon does well with rain.

The conclusion has a lot of problems, but not too many to overshadow the story’s other strengths. It shows what a strong cast and setting Moore has set up.

Though it really doesn’t support the weight of silly magic.

B- 

CREDITS

Tom Strong’s Pal, Wally Willoughby; writer, Geoff Johns; artist, John Paul Leon; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Aquaman 3 (January 2012)

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This issue opens with a flashback. The content is fine, but the art is goofy. It’s to indicate the flashback, but it doesn’t work.

Otherwise, Johns is really impressing with Aquaman. He even manages to bring the joke aspect back, but matures it a little. Someone accuses Aquaman of being a glory hound looking for a good reputation. Johns handles it quietly, with Reis showing the full effect of the statement. Reis mixes the emotive quality of the story with the action. It’s impressive to see.

Again, Johns writes a great relationship between Mera and Arthur. It’s a great married couple adventure, with Mera never taking a secondary role. Even though it’s her first time to the surface or whatever.

Johns really just seems to get how to do this comic book and one aspect of that understanding is having Reis.

It even manages to be disturbing (carnivorous sea monsters).

CREDITS

The Trench, Part Three; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Ivan Reis; inker, Joe Prado; colorist, Rod Reis; letterer, Nick J. Napolitano; editors, Sean Mackiewicz and Pat McCallum; publisher, DC Comics.

Justice League 3 (January 2012)

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You know who should be writing DC’s new Wonder Woman? Geoff Johns.

You know who can’t write Aquaman, apparently, in Justice League? Yeah, Johns too.

This issue opens with Wonder Woman, gives a really quick look at her arrival in the new DC Universe, immediately establishing a strong female character. It’s utterly fantastic.

Shame the rest of the comic is crap.

Why is Jim Lee doing Jack Kirby creations? Lee’s denizens of Apokolips look awful. Darkseid shows up for a second. My “Super Powers” action figure looked better.

Just to elucidate, Lee’s art on the Wonder Woman scenes is pretty weak too.

Justice League was previously absent any quality. Johns brings some and doesn’t even seem to notice the difference.

If Johns and Lee–DC’s chief creative officer and co-publisher–can’t even figure out their own strengths and weaknesses, how do any DC comics have a chance?

I’m bummed.

CREDITS

Justice League, Part Three; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Jim Lee; inker, Scott Williams; colorists, Gabe Eltaeb and Alex Sinclair; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Darren Shan and Brian Cunningham; publisher, DC Comics.

Green Lantern 3 (January 2012)

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Once again, Sinestro is the best thing about Green Lantern. Johns really ought to consider redoing the book with Sinestro as the lead and Hal Jordan as his flunky. Maybe because of the movie (and Ryan Reynolds playing the role), it’s hard to take Hal seriously. Maybe it’s just because Johns makes Hal out to be a complete moron.

Not sure if that development’s new DC Universe or whatever.

Johns has been so successful at making Sinestro a force through the narrative, the focus on him works. Hal’s just a tool. He’s the comic relief. Regardless of Johns’s intention, he’s made Lantern better for making the expected lead a toadstool.

There’s very nice art from Mahnke and company. Occasionally, the differences in inkers–they’re close, but not exact–become clear. But it’s never disjointing.

The issue’s third act is just a great time. Johns manages a predictable, but deft cliffhanger.

CREDITS

Sinestro, Part Three; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Doug Mahnke; inkers, Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin and Tom Nguyen; colorist, David Baron; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Darren Shan and Brian Cunningham; publisher, DC Comics.

Aquaman 2 (December 2011)

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Johns is nowhere near as funny this issue of Aquaman. I don’t mean more of the jokes fall flat, I mean he’s given up the gag. Instead, he presents Aquaman as an action hero. Well, he does add Mera to the equation and reveal the couple to be adorable in private.

Though I enjoyed the issue less—and it’s clear Johns was more traditional and less inventive—it almost bodes well for the series and the approach itself. It’s not The Thin Man, but it’s about on par with “Hart to Hart.” Arthur and Mera make a fine team.

Of course, having a great superhero artist like Reis on the book is essential. If it weren’t so much fun to look at, Johns’s stalled pacing might get more annoying.

And it’s creepy. It’s a horror comic, with the nasty unseen creatures of the mist being visible and horrific.

It’s fine.

CREDITS

The Trench, Part Two; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Ivan Reis; inker, Joe Prado; colorist, Rod Reis; letterer, Nick J. Napolitano; editors, Sean Mackiewicz and Pat McCallum; publisher, DC Comics.

Justice League 2 (December 2011)

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Superman’s a dick.

And so is Cyborg’s dad.

Other than those two developments, I’m not entirely sure what new developments Justice League has to offer. Jim Lee and his funny new superhero outfits?

Towards the end, when Darkseid’s minions break through to attack, it almost works. Johns and Lee almost get the issue to the point where it achieves some kind of visceral moment. But it’s only a two page spread… the rest of the comic is totally ineffective visually.

Marvel Studios guy Kevin Feige describes the Marvel team-up style as heroes who “fight each other, then they fight together.” So, yet again, the new DC Universe is just the old Warner Bros. underwear washed with Disney-brand detergent….

It’s better than the first issue if only because Barry and Hal are slightly amusing together. They remind of better comics, whereas Batman and Superman remind of crappy Frank Miller.

CREDITS

Justice League, Part Two; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Jim Lee; inker, Scott Williams; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Rex Ogle and Eddie Berganza; publisher, DC Comics.

Green Lantern 2 (December 2011)

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Yuck to Johns’s pacing. This issue features Sinestro showing off to Hal Jordan how much of a bad Lantern Jordan’s always been.

It’s lots and lots of talking, which the occasional action sequence or something ring-related.

For the most part, Mahnke and the inkers do a fine job. There’s sci-fi action, there are monsters, there’s superhero disaster stuff. The art never bests what the artists do in the first few pages, when they show how pissy Jordan gets over Sinestro having the ring.

I think the issue takes place in about twenty-five minutes, which is about six times longer than it takes to read the comic. And Sinestro is so much stronger, as a character, than Hal Jordan. Does Johns always write him this way?

He’s turned Sinestro into the Dr. Doom of the DC Universe; “evil” or whatever, but right about how to fix the world.

CREDITS

Sinestro, Part Two; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Doug Mahnke; inkers, Christian Alamy and Keith Champagne; colorist, David Baron; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Darren Shan and Brian Cunningham; publisher, DC Comics.

Aquaman 1 (November 2011)

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Ha, ha, Aquaman’s lame. He’s so lame bloggers make fun of him when he goes out for fish and chips.

Geoff Johns’s take on Aquaman is to make him into an ironic superhero. Everyone mocks him, but the women still want him and the men still want to be him. Because his staff makes a Wolverine “snikt.” Johns is actually just rehabbing Aquaman for a movie. Seriously, I’d go see a movie with this Aquaman in it.

He’s like Robert Downey Jr. in the Iron Man movies.

A lot like him.

Anyway, moving on. It’s not awful. Johns is being silly, but… who doesn’t like laughing at Aquaman? It’s mildly amusing junk.

Then, about halfway through the comic, I realized I’d be reading it even if it wasn’t part of the relaunch. And I realized why.

Ivan Reis’s fantastic artwork. Whether it’s people, Aquaman or the sea monsters, it’s awesome.

CREDITS

Trench, Part One; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Ivan Reis; inker, Joe Prado; colorist, Rod Reis; letterer, Nick J. Napolitano; editors, Sean Mackiewicz and Pat McCallum; publisher, DC Comics.

Green Lantern 1 (November 2011)

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I thought Sinestro had a big silly head. Doug Mahnke gives him a big forehead, but no big head.

Not being a Green Lantern reader, this issue sort of confuses me. But what frustrates me is Geoff Johns. He can plot out the issue, get all the beats down, even write good dialogue half the time… but the other half is weak. It’s not bad dialogue, but it’s all declarative statements.

Johns needs to work on letting his characters listen.

I’m surprisingly impressed with the comic. Though the cover suggests Sinestro will play a big part, he takes a back burner to Hal adjusting on Earth without his ring. Johns knows how to split the comic between the two.

And even if it does read pretty fast, the plotting suggests some things have happened in the pages.

I’m not exactly an immediate Green Lantern supporter, but I’m suddenly rather hopeful.

CREDITS

Sinestro, Part One; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Doug Mahnke; inkers, Christian Alamy and Tom Nguyen; colorist, David Baron; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Darren Shan and Brian Cunningham; publisher, DC Comics.

Justice League 1 (October 2011)

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So what’s Geoff Johns’s big insight into relaunching the DC Universe? Make it a lot like Marvels. A super-lot.

And there’s another difference. It’s not superheroes in the new DC Universe. It’s super-heroes.

What other big changes? Jim Lee draws Superman like a teenager and everyone’s costume now has small, unbelievable (and nonfunctional) bulky little patches. Maybe Lee likes to draw egg shapes or something.

I’m trying to think of what else is so special. Batman talks about Green Lantern like his fights with the Air Force are the Hulk fighting Ross… Oh, wait, there’s a “special” moment. When it becomes clear Johns’s “Year One” Batman talks exactly like Rorschach out of Watchmen. Better than Frank Miller, I guess.

Pre-Cyborg Vic Stone shows up for a useless scene. Johns should’ve told the comic through him.

Lee gets lazy immediately after the pages DC released as preview ones.

CREDITS

Justice League, Part One; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Jim Lee; inker, Scott Williams; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Rex Ogle and Eddie Berganza; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman: New Krypton Special 1 (December 2008)

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Someone has pointed out Johns casting Lois Lane’s dad as a jingoistic, sadistic supervillain really just is… you know, the Hulk, right? I mean, someone besides me. It’s so startlingly uncreative, one has to wonder.

This New Krypton Special does raise a couple interesting ideas—one is the People of Kandor being, well, basically stupid jerks. It doesn’t make me want to read the series, however. Oh, another moronic move—a bad guy named “Agent Assassin?” I mean, that one’s worse than the Image stuff.

There’s some great art. I love the way reading Frank’s pages feels like one’s reading a sequel to the Christopher Reeve movies. It’s too bad Johns’s plotting on everything else is goofy. Woods and Guedes are good too, Woods being better.

It’s too bad Johns shoved New Krypton into a nice memorial to Jonathan Kent. It sort of undoes that whole sequence, the subsequent nonsense.

CREDITS

Writers, Geoff Johns, James Robinson and Sterling Gates; pencillers, Gary Frank, Pete Woods and Renato Guedes; inkers, Jon Sibal, Woods and Wilson Magalhaes; colorist, Hi-Fi; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Nachie Castro and Matt Idelson; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman: Secret Origin 6 (October 2010)

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So after making everyone wait for months, DC put out this piece of crap?

I mean, it’s not terrible, but it’s garbage. Frank’s artwork is visibly hurried, with Superman looking different in every other panel and the Christopher Reeve likeness looking traced when he uses it here. Lois looks funny, more of the hurrying.

As for Johns, it’s like he was trying to see how many endings he could do in one issue to give Frank the chance to do full page panels.

It’s completely moronic conclusion to the last three issues too, but particularly to the last one, as General Lane is reduced to a cartoon joke. Lex is a goof too.

What’s funniest about the comic is how self-important Johns writes it. It’s clear no one edits his scripts.

I think it’s about a five minute read. People waited three months for a five minute read. That’s value.

CREDITS

The End; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Gary Frank; inker, Jon Sibal; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Wil Moss and Matt Idelson; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman: Secret Origin 5 (May 2010)

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Ok, so Johns finally did something completely unexpected. He made Superman the Hulk. General Sam Lane–I think that’s Lois’s father’s name anyway–is a psycho warmonger who tries to kill Superman.

Funny how John Byrne is known for Superman and the Hulk and Johns is playing with both here.

There’s some decent character scenes, not as much Christopher Reeve in the Frank art but some… A lot of the scenes play well. Superman posing for Jimmy seems really stupid.

But Johns doesn’t have a good narrative structure here or in the series overall. This issue, like the last, is sequential, while the first two issues weren’t tied by an exacting structure.

It’s like Johns can’t decide if he’s doing Man of Steel or something else. The confusion isn’t helping.

Some of the problem probably stems from Johns’s handle on Superman being a tad trite.

It’s a passionless mechanical story, completely unnecessary.

CREDITS

Strange Visitor; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Gary Frank; inker, Jon Sibal; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Wil Moss and Matt Idelson; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman: Secret Origin 4 (March 2010)

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Maybe I’ve surrendered. Johns doesn’t introduce anything new to the canon this issue, instead he just does a sequel to the previous issue. The Gary Frank Parasite is hideously wonderful too.

But back to Johns. He does a decent job this issue. Sure, he’s set up a disastrously bad idea, but once he’s writing in that idea, instead of about it, he does fine. A limited series about Superman’s first week in Metropolis (this issue would be the second in that wish) would be good. I’m sure Johns will screw it up next issue, but as a brief reprieve, this issue is welcome.

There’s a lot more of the Christopher Reeve referencing from Frank here, which certainly makes it feel part of a brand… But Superman doesn’t look like Reeve in the rest of the DC publications, so why here?

Oh, and Johns’s Luthor is uncharacteristically dumb. That’s a problem.

CREDITS

Parasites; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Gary Frank; inker, Jon Sibal; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Wil Moss and Matt Idelson; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman: Secret Origin 3 (January 2010)

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DC never did a formal adaptation of the first Superman movie, so Johns gives it a shot here, with some modernizing and some adjustments for comic book continuity. The result, I suppose, depends on if you like the first Superman movie. Even with the silly Lex Luthor is a power mad bad guy (from Byrne)–it makes Smallville real famous too, which misses the point I think, it works.

But then I love Superman: The Movie.

Frank draws Clark to look like Christopher Reeve here, Johns has him bumble well like Reeve does in the movies… There’s really nothing new here. It’s just a really good adaptation of a movie, which I’m sure they’ll have to redo once the new Superman movie comes out (didn’t anyone tell Johns about corporate synergy?).

His biggest innovation is to make Metropolis an unfriendly city. That general unfriendliness will probably turn around once Superman arrives.

CREDITS

Mild-Mannered Reporter; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Gary Frank; inker, Jon Sibal; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Wil Moss and Matt Idelson; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman: Secret Origin 2 (December 2009)

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The second issue, featuring the return of the Superboy and the Legion (at least in an origin retelling) to continuity, works a lot better. There’s still some stupid stuff. Instead of coming up with something interesting to do with Lana, Johns just has her get mad at Clark and storm off.

And then the Lex Luthor stuff. Johns seems determined to keep Luthor in the story, even though he doesn’t fit. But he shoves him into the story–the scene this issue between Lex and Clark makes almost no sense… though it does further alienate Clark so he’s overjoyed when the Legion shows up.

Of course, I like how Johns is inferring sexual desire when Clark meets some of the female Legionnaires. Isn’t Superboy having naughty thoughts kind of like Jesus having naughty thoughts?

I’m waiting, desperately, for Johns to come up with one thing superior to John Byrne.

Clock’s ticking….

CREDITS

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Gary Frank; inker, Jon Sibal; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Wil Moss and Matt Idelson; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman: Secret Origin 1 (November 2009)

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Geoff Johns’s point seems to be to do another Superman origin retelling, this time integrating parts of Superman (Johns used to work for director Richard Donner), the “Smallville” TV show (Johns occasionally writes episodes for the show) and some of the stuff John Byrne left out of his Man of Steel origin retelling back in the eighties.

The result is about as jumbled as it sounds from that grocery list of intentions.

Seeing Gary Frank essentially draw a young Christopher Reeve in a few panels is pretty neat and having Clark and Lana Lang have a budding romance is cute.

Johns even gets in a Superman III reference, which is surprising (Donner didn’t work on that film).

But does it work? Another modernized retelling of the Smallville stuff? No.

Johns is too specific in his writing… except when it comes to creating a believable Smallville.

It’s cute instead of iconic.

CREDITS

The Boy of Steel; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Gary Frank; inker, Jon Sibal; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Wil Moss and Matt Idelson; publisher, DC Comics.

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