Batman meets Adrian Veidt, Ozymandias. Which one will outsmart the other?
“You cling to a simplistic morality Based on pulp heroes.” This the best line in this comic where one genius is criticizing another over his methods. Ozymandias believes in solving problems at the core. Batman believes in reacting and containing crises while playing fair. But Geoff Johns has more parallels in store for readers. He pits Marionette and Mime against the Joker. It’s clown versus clown and brain versus brain.
And just for fun, Johns is also setting up East versus West when the Russian heroes declare that they will resist the control of Western metahumans. Elsewhere, Johns pulls another one of his deep symbolism by adding Jack Ryder, otherwise known as the Creeper in the narrative. Ryder’s place has a meta role as he and Rorschach represent the Steve Ditko heroic archetype. This story is going somewhere but Johns is not telling us everything.
I will say that Johns is stretching his brain to the maximum and to some extent going further than Alan Moore did in the original Watchmen story. This kind of writing is not usual fair in Johns’ repertoire, but it will be one of the most significant things he has written when he’s done with this series. If there are still naysayers against this comic, unless they are Alan Moore, they should read some of this work.
Gary Frank continues his systematic storytelling using the nine-panel grid. It is interesting to compare how Frank uses the nine-panel grid versus someone like Mitch Gerads. Both break larger panels into small chunks spread on rows of three-panels. Gerads, however repeats many frames within a page or uses them to make characters move within that space. This is something Keith Giffens used to do frequently. Frank favours using subject-to-subject transition between his panels. This fascinating stuff!