Why Doomsday Clock is Taking Geoff Johns So Long To Write

Superman Doomsday Clock Cover

The Doomsday Clock miniseries was intended to be the climax of DC's hugely popular "Rebirth" relaunch, and the pivotal story that would explain its biggest mystery. Written by Rebirth's official architect Geoff Johns, it was also a high-profile sequel to Watchmen, controversially bringing characters like Doctor Manhattan into the DC Universe.

Unfortunately, the twelve-issue miniseries has been hit with constant delays since it began its run. DC Comics had originally planned it for  a monthly release schedule, with occasional breaks to allow the in-demand creative team a chance to breathe... but it hasn't worked out that way. The weekly announcements confirming delays have come and gone, with it now a well-known joke among comic book readers: the Doomsday Clock is running late. So what went wrong?

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The heart of the problem is that Geoff Johns is a very busy man. The first issue of Doomsday Clock released back in November 2017, and Johns's workload since then has been pretty impressive. After holding an executive role at DC Entertainment until June 2018, Johns stepped down as part of a corporate restructure following the box office failure of Justice League. He seemed determined with the founding of his Mad Ghost Productions, working on DC characters and concepts for both the big and the small screen. Johns co-wrote scripts for AquamanGreen Lantern Corps, and Wonder Woman 1984, and he's both writer and executive-producer of the upcoming DC Universe Stargirl series (essentially Johns's baby). Not to mention his other comics, chief among them being Johns' Shazam! series--which has suffered similar delays, with issues #9 through #11 having been recently postponed. Indefinitely.

The potential problems may not lie entirely with Johns, however, since artist Gary Frank was chosen for a reason. Doomsday Clock is intended as a spiritual successor to Watchmen, and as such, the issues typically use extremely tight panels. Those are challenging for any artist, especially for someone as detail-oriented as Doomsday Clock's Frank. Frank has made several apologies on social media, suggesting that his time spent on the panels is at least partly responsible for the delays (or at the very least, is sharing the blame). And when the events taking place in the story are as inherently important--from the tragic death of the first Green Lantern, to the moment Joker meets Doctor Manhattan--the idea of taking shortcuts is out of the question.

The truth is that high-quality artwork takes time to create. Marvel Comics had similar issues with 2015's Secret Wars event comic, which finished several months late because of Esad Ribic's assiduous work. Naturally, Doomsday Clock's detailed, precise panels mean colorist Brad Anderson has his work cut out for him as well. Anderson is one of DC's house colorists, and he has a pretty intense workload to deal with outside of this one comic book miniseries. The constant delays to Doomsday Clock are frustrating, but there's a now growing sense that... they don't really matter any more.

By now, there's already been so much disruption to the planned monthly release that only the most dedicated readers are picking up each issue, as proven by the drop in sales figures. But it isn't all doom and gloom, and this certainly won't doom Doomsday Clock to be relegated to the ranks of DC's failures. Considering the climax Johns has been building to, and the direct continuation of the Watchmen story, DC and their fans can be confident that--once completed--the issues can be collected in trade paperback format with a ticket straight to the top of the sales charts.

Doomsday Clock #11 will be available at your local comic book shop on September 4th, or direct from DC Comics.

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