Everything we know about Doomsday Clock, DC’s Watchmen crossover

By ·October 21, 2017 10:30 am

The Doomsday Clock is nearing proverbial midnight on the DC Universe, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of what the event will bring for the DC pantheon. Pitched as both the second (and maybe final) act of DC’s Rebirth, a building block for DC’s entire comic history, and most importantly the full appearances of Watchmen characters in the DCU, Doomsday Clock certainly has big shoes to fill.

That’s certainly alright with series writer and DC overlord Geoff Johns though, who promises that the event will shake the foundations of the multiverse to its core.

Doomsday Clock was first revealed at the end of “The Button” crossover which saw Batman and Flash investigating the appearance of Comedian’s famous button, building on Doctor Manhattan’s tease in 2016s DC Rebirth #1. Since then we’ve gotten teases in a few ongoing titles, learned that Mr. Oz is not Ozymandias  a popular theory among comic book faithful, and gotten a full six page preview of the miniseries at New York Comic Con.

Now that we’re just a little over a month away, we still don’t know what the full extent of the Watchmen’s involvement in the post Rebirth world actually is, and while we don’t know all the details what we do know so far is definitely intriguing.

The Joker will have a part to play

Joker on Gary Frank’s variant cover for Doomsday Clock #5.

Hot on the heels of John’s NYCC preview, artist Gary Frank tweeted out his artwork for the Doomsday Clock #5 variant cover featuring the Crown Prince of Crime.

The variant cover displays Joker applying his signature makeup, with a little hidden surprise for keen observers. Notice the makeup mirror Joker is holding? That’s the logo for Nostalgia Perfume, a makeup manufacturer owned by Adrian Veidt’s Veidt Enterprises in Watchmen.

Readers of DC Rebirth #1 will also remember that there are three separate people identified as Joker, and while we don’t know exactly which one this is, if the other two will show up, or who the three are allied with (possibly Ozymandias given the makeup mirror), a potential meeting between Joker and the Comedian could be one of the most explosive moments in the books.

Rorschach is not dead and Batman has his journal (somehow)

Rorschach in the interior art for Doomsday Clock #1.

Another tease in the first six pages of Doomsday Clock at NYCC was the return of Rorschach. A move that surprised many  given that he was blinked out of the universe by Doctor Manhattan at the end of Watchmen.

Rorschach’s up to his usual jaunts, as we see him narrating the beginning of the book, revealing the world post-Watchmen to be as miserable and corrupt as before Ozymandias and Manhattan’s attempts to shock the world into cooperation through a simulated nuclear attack. Then, we see the masked anti-hero casually escape a prison cell before offering another prisoner escape as well  although the prisoner declines on account of being terrified of Rorschach, before the prison ends.

Another major reveal in the preview is the fate of Rorschach’s infamous journal. At the end of Watchmen, Rorschach sends his journal (which contains his evidence that implicates Ozymandias and Doctor Manhattan on the supposed nuclear strike on New York) to a news publication which he hopes will publish it to the world. Unfortunately it appears now that his writing was indecipherable and his findings went unnoticed – until Batman, who somehow now has possession of the journal, takes up his case.

It’s a super accessible event

Gary Frank’s cover of Doomsday Clock #1.

Unlike say Dark Knights: Metal, Scott Snyder’s mega-popular continuity heavy event, Doomsday Clock will be much more accessible to the average comic reader.

The two events are actually a stark contrast to one another, and while Metal relies on events years in the making and has a multitude of tie-ins and one shots, Doomsday Clock on the other hand is a standalone 12 issue series.

Doomsday Clock also doesn’t require a ton of knowledge of continuity to pick it up. The event actually starts one full year ahead of  current DC events (which is currently dealing with the Metal) at which point the ongoing titles will need to play catch up before the finale in November 2018. It’s a smart play by DC, only requiring someone to read Watchmen and the DC Rebirth one shot to understand the plot. No small feat for such a massive crossover event.

It won’t shy away from politics and analyzing society

A panel from Button’s Doomsday Clock preview.

One of the most celebrated things about Watchmen was its use of sharp political allegory to effect the story, and that will be true for Doomsday Clock as well with an updated eye on the absurdity of the modern world. That isn’t to say that Doomsday Clock will be an on the nose political book though, and we can hope that it straddles the line between allegory and good old fashioned comic book fun as deftly as Watchmen did.

DC has a long history of incorporating political stories in comic books, through characters like Green Arrow, the anti-drug books in the 80s, the World War 2 books of the 30s and 40s, Watchmen, and now Doomsday Clock.

Now, its pretty obvious Geoff Johns the recent US election inspired him in writing the miniseries, but he isn’t stopping there, and views it as a much larger whole:

“It is about much more than the American president or the reactions to him. That is low hanging fruit to me. It goes bigger, deeper. It is about the world, and the attitude of people. I feel like there are extremes now everywhere, extremes on all sides. There is no more olive branch. It doesn’t exist.”

Doctor Manhattan won’t be battling the heroes

Gary Frank’s variant cover art for Doomsday Clock #1.

This may have been a bit obvious to Watchmen readers, but for those not in the know it may come as a shock.

The heroes always have to battle the villain, right? Wrong. Doctor Manhattan is just far too powerful for even the mightiest of DC heroes. Superman or not, Manhattan could simply blink him and the rest of the DCU out of existence before you can say “Krypton.” Instead, Johns and crew are opting for a more nuanced tale, saying:

“You’ll never see an issue where Doctor Manhattan is fighting the Justice League. It’s just not what the story is, it’s not what we want to do.”

So, what is it they want to do? Well, Geoff Johns was actually asked that question at a panel and said, “you’ll know in the first page of the first issue.” Not exactly revealing, given that when the preview was released, it was entirely set in the Watchmen universe, a few years after the events of the book.

It’s partially set in 1992

Rorschach on the lenticular cover for Doomsday Clock #1.

As mentioned above, the biggest revelation in the six-page NYCC preview was that Doomsday Clock will be, at least partially, set in 1992.

That places a good chunk of the story a full 5 years after the events of Watchmen, but also maybe more importantly, during the events of the Death of Superman, the much ado story where Superman is killed by the villain Doomsday.

The preview pages give us a glimpse of the struggle of the inhabitants of the Watchmen universe, as Rorschach’s narration describes a world where their God has betrayed them and is now crumbling to ruin. Sounds like they could use a Superman.

Now, we still don’t know why it is set around this time but theories are already brewing about Doctor Manhattan’s involvement, from saving the Man of Steel of his grisly fate, or being the catalyst for the events that lead up to it. Either way, Doctor Manhattan will now be intertwined with Superman forever.


It will alter the DCU forever

Lex Luthor and a shadowed Ozymandias on the cover of Doomsday Clock #2.

It should be pretty clear now that Doomsday Clock isn’t your average comic book event, but a in-continuity event as big this is bound to shake up the status quo in the DCU. DC has a history of shaking up its trajectory from Flashpoint, the Crisis events, and Rebirth but the Watchmen crossover could have the biggest impact yet.

Doomsday Clock will catch us up on the inner workings of Manhattan’s plans, and according to Johns, take us right up to the present day and into “tomorrow.”

We don’t know what that tomorrow will hold for the DC heroes but one thing is for sure, if Manhattan and the Watchmen are involved, it won’t be pretty.

Are you excited for Doomsday Clock? Let us know in the comments below!

Image credits: DC Comics

Written by Alex Wedderien


Alex is a writer and father of two in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. His previous work includes copy writing, technical writing, and brand copy. One day he also plans to write his own comic book.

His interests include comic books, sci fi and fantasy novels, and retro video games.

His specialty subjects include DC, Marvel, and Image comics.

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