Artists: Gary Frank & Brad Anderson
They say that good things come to those who wait. The gaps between issues of DC Comics’ Doomsday Clock have been reeeaaalllyyy looong, but #6, aptly titled “Truly Laugh”, is most definitely a very good thing indeed.
The one bonus of having these extended waits between issues is having to re-read the previous chapters to refresh my memory. I really should have said wanting to re-read them, if I’m being truly honest. I’m picking up nuances and story beats that I missed first, or even second time around, with every revisit. I must’ve read issues 1 – 4 half a dozen times each by now!
Issue #5 closed with Batman being captured by The Joker, and the Clown Prince Of Crime finally coming face to face with Marionette and The Mime. The Joker’s scary… these two are on his level. In this issue we finally learn the origin of this creepy couple, and with understanding comes sympathy. Don’t get me wrong, these two individuals are bad news, but now I can understand their motivations. It’s one thing having Watchmen characters mingle with DC Universe mainstays, but one of my favorite aspects of Doomsday Clock is the new characters that Geoff Johns and Gary Frank have created.
The story behind the Mime and Marionette is intriguing, real, and heartbreaking. I never cared for the Joker / Harley as a couple, as the relationship was so abusive. With these new villains the love is true, and deep. The ones that receive the abuse are outsiders; those who attempt to part them, or harm them. Their loyalty to each other is obsessive, but their commitment is beyond doubt.
Laugh? I Almost Died
The use of puppets is also extremely clever. Are all of us simply marionettes, juggled and dragged through the days of our lives by merciless forces beyond our understanding? Will cutting these ties release us from our bondage, or will we simply fall into the interminable void?
“We’re all puppets, Laurie. I’m just a puppet who can see the strings.”
Gary Frank’s design for the maniacs in makeup is perfect. The scenes set in their past are beautifully imagined and exquisitely rendered. The childhood experiences they experienced are brutal, and horrific, but sadly feel all too real.
Can I talk about the color art by Brad Anderson for a minute? It’s a rhetorical question, because I’m going to anyway.
The use of muted tones for flashback scenes is an oft used trope in comics. Brad Anderson is a leader, not a follower, and has turned this tried and tested formula on its head. If you look at the art in this issue, everything set in the now, is grimy, dirty and tinged with sickly hues. The origin sequences, set in the horrifically violent and disturbing past of Mime and Marionette, have the more classic primary colors of standard comic book fare. A mistake? No… far from it. These memories, though disturbing to us, are bright colored remembrances of a far happier time for this dysfunctional duo, it’s the here and now that they can’t abide.
Though I’m truly an impatient soul, the wait between issues of Doomsday Clock can be viewed as exquisite torture. If Messrs Johns, Frank and Anderson keep gifting us gems this polished, then I see my future impatience as a virtue.
Images Courtesy OF DC Entertainment