The narrative of a much-hyped miniseries takes a bit of a backseat to some character histories, as the latest issue of Doomsday Clock gives us the origin of the new Rorschach.

Doomsday Clock 4
Written by Geoff Johns 
Pencils and Inks by Gary Frank 
Colors by Brad Anderson 

At the halfway point of WATCHMEN, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons gave us more insight into the history of Walter Kovacs, the man who came to be known as Rorschach. Through the framing sequence of Kovacs sitting with Dr. Malcolm Long, readers learned more about the masked man, as the focus was solely on Kovacs and Long.

The new Rorschach, who debuted in the first issue of Doomsday Clock, has been a mystery up until this issue, as Geoff Johns digs into his origins. The answer to the question of his identity is… pretty much what many expected it to be. The man who took over the role is the son of Dr. Long, having been traumatized in the attack on New York City perpetrated by Adrian Veidt. After being locked up in Arkham Asylum LAST ISSUE by Batman, Reggie Long is now stuck reliving his past and the trauma that led him to put on the mask and trenchcoat.

Not surprisingly, in writing DOOMSDAY CLOCK, Johns is aping the pacing of WATCHMEN, giving a very slow build to whatever it is he’s building to. While many expected the series to feature a confrontation between Superman and Doctor Manhattan, the Man of Steel has basically had a cameo in the first issue, and Veidt is still searching for Doctor Manhattan. We’re getting bits and pieces of advancement, like the return of the Legion of Superheroes‘ Imra Ardeen – Saturn Girl – who penetrates Reggie’s thoughts once he gets locked up and eventually helps him escape the asylum.

Saturn Girl was shown in the Rebirth special almost two years ago as being locked away in Arkham as a Jane Doe, so Johns has been playing the long game with this one. In returning to the Rebirth narrative in DOOMSDAY CLOCK, she may have disrupted Batman’s plans for Reggie, though we don’t know what those plans are. But of course, Batman had a plan, as we learn he was posing as Reggie’s therapist, Malcolm Mason, attempting unsuccessfully to get the stranger in a strange land to talk.

I never read WATCHMEN in a serialized format, only in collected editions. I’m pretty sure Moore’s pacing in the 12-issue series would have driven me crazy, and I worry that we’re going to get that here in DOOMSDAY CLOCK, especially now that the series is only shipping every other month. While the fourth issue was certainly informative and moved the plot forward in a couple of unexpected ways, this was probably the least of the issues released so far.

I expect big things to come soon, though. The fourth issue of WATCHMEN focused on Jon Osterman and how he became Doctor Manhattan, while the fifth issue gave us our first look at Adrian Veidt, who would eventually be revealed as the big bad of the story. Will we meet the true bad guy in the next issue? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.