Writer Matt Hawkins (COO of Top Cow, Think Tank) has transformed a smoldering curiosity about the possibilities of weaponizing cancer into a chillingly plausible comic where that science-based catastrophe becomes reality. In The Clock #1, scientists race to discover the cause of and hopefully a cure for the fastest-spreading and most deadly variety of cancer ever to rock the planet. Hawkins sets a realistic stage where an aggressive new cancer is on pace to decimate half the world’s population within the next calendar year.
Although the entire scientific community is searching for the cause and cure, Hawkins’ well-developed plot moves through the efforts of a leading cancer researcher who lost his wife to the disease and is racing against the clock now that his daughter has also been diagnosed. The sense of urgency is well done (think season one of the television show 24), but there were some missed opportunities to humanize the situation that might have personally endeared us to Jack (and I desperately want to cheer for him the way I cheered for Jack Bauer). These moments might materialize in the next issue, of course, but it’s a four-issue mini-series, so there isn’t much time.
Most of the emotional expression in the issue arrives courtesy of Colleen Doran’s (Orbiter) thoughtful and well-grounded art. Individuals are truly unique here, and Doran has a gift for facial expressions that propel the book’s urgent tone through every panel. And when you think about it, she’s created an unsettling scientific nightmare cleverly disguised as a slice of life. Bryan Valenza’s dark and serious colors complete the realistic tone of the issue and are a good complement to the dire, yet seemingly “normal” world Doran establishes.
With a plot in high gear and characters that may move at a slow burn, it’s an intriguing start and might just make us all fans of politically charged, science-gone-wrong disasters. I’m looking forward to the next issue.
Matt Hawkins (W), Colleen Doran (A), Bryan Valenza (C), Troy Peteri (L) • Image Comics/Top Cow, $3.99
Review by Karen O’Brien