The Clock #1 is published by Image Comics and Top Cow Productions. It comes from the creative team of writer Matt Hawkins, artist Colleen Doran, colorist Bryan Valenza, and letterer Troy Peteri.
The Clock #1 opens in Nigeria as a convoy of vehicles passes near a large refugee camp. Inside one of the vehicles, two men survey the scene. The men, Jack and his father Joe, are at this camp to perform research. The camp comes under attack, but the enemy forces are quickly beaten back. As the research team is preparing to leave Joe gets a call that Jack’s wife has died.
Undaunted Jack continues his research. But his conclusions begin to look increasingly bleak. If no cure for this virus can be found, hundreds of millions could be dead within weeks. But other mysteries soon develop and Jack finds himself in a race to save his family and the human race from extinction.
The story from Hawkins is an interesting concept, but the execution is not great. As far as hard Sci-Fi goes, this type of viral outbreak is entirely possible, and the premise is compelling. However, Hawkins’ writing leaves a lot to be desired. The scenes feel disjointed and lifeless. It takes almost 12 pages before any of the characters are named, which makes relating to them difficult. The dialogue feels like a device to keep the plot moving rather than an actual conversation between people. In addition to that, there is some distressing misinformation for a hard sci-fi book. At one point the main character unironically points to a debunked claim that there are more people alive today than have ever lived. A simple mistake for a layman protagonist, but Jack is meant to be a leading cancer researcher and scientist.
The art from Doran is ok, but not particularly noteworthy. Something about the stiffness of the script seems to have translated into the visuals as well. The characters are more like posed dolls than living, breathing people. Likewise, there are some issues with the letters from Peteri. At the beginning of the book did pop up. The white speech bubbles appearing over the bright sky which makes it difficult to read who is saying what. This isn’t a huge problem, but it does make the earlier pages a little more difficult to read. However, the colors from Valenza are well implemented.
I really struggled with this book. There are a lot of smart concepts and a good story that is buried under poor execution. It is exceedingly difficult to care about any of the characters presented. Things happen to them, some of them sad, some of them not. But it feels like these events all simply occur so that the story can move forward. If more work was put into the characters this could have been extremely effective. As a result, I can’t really recommend this. Instead, I would recommend the excellent Undiscovered Country and Unearth as alternatives.
The Clock #1 is available wherever comics are sold.
The Clock #1
There are a lot of smart concepts and a good story that is buried under poor execution.