Originally published in 1984, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen remains one of the most influential comic books of all time; well the Doomsday Clock is ticking again and this time the heroes and villains of the DC universe are part of the story.
The Watchmen series imagined what superheroes might be like in a realistic world that mirrored our own, and as a result, it changed everyone’s concept of what being a superhero meant. These heroes were violent, sadistic, sad, spiteful, confused, and dangerous, and other than the almost god-like Dr. Manhattan, most lacked incredible powers. These heroes also operated during the Cold War era, in a world beaten-down by the constant threat of nuclear apocalypse where hope and joy were nonexistent. In the end of Watchmen, the main characters didn’t even beat the story’s supervillain, their brilliant one-time comrade Ozymandias; instead, they helped cover up his involvement in destroying New York City, faking an alien invasion, believing that by doing so they were averting the launch of nuclear bombs. But now the bomb is back, and the doomsday clock is ticking again and Doomsday Clock finally brings the Watchmen characters face-to-face with their counterparts in the traditional DC pantheon. This series is written by accomplished writer Geoff Johns with art masterfully done by Gary Frank whose goal was to reintroduce these characters years after the initial Watchmen took place, eight years to be exact, and oddly enough, today’s political, social, and cultural climate is the perfect timing for a reintroduction, as talk of nuclear war, social unrest, and the political circus we have in Washington, DC is not so far from that which the Watchmen was first introduced, but this time around, the reader can expect to see a series of our favorite DC heroes interact with Watchmen characters. Speculation exists that we may find out that Dr. Manhattan has been manipulating things within the DC universe for some time, as there have been some hints placed in DC issues that will be addressed in a follow-up article. The implications that are being made as to just what this all means for the DC universe, with books like Rebirth, Metal, 52 taking place; writer Geoff Johns says this has all been planned for some time, well over a year in the making and people can expect some explosive revelations to take place in Doomsday Clock. In an interview with writer, Geoff Johns, regarding what to expect from Doomsday, John’s says
“Watchmen had such a massive impact on people like myself and Damon, so we’re just interested in it. I also think we’re in a time where the world is at a strange, kind of insane place,” also stating, “Things are happening that I never imagined I’d see in my life. Revisiting these Watchmen characters in a new way, in the context of the DC universe, and with what the world’s going through, I just thought it was time. Gary and I thought it was time. We know some people will think these characters should never be touched, but we’re hoping the work we put into this and the first issue itself will give people pause and let them know that we have a story to tell and it’s a story worth telling.”
Johns and DC have been teasing Doomsday Clock for quite some time when the DC Rebirth one-shot ended with Batman finding the iconic Watchmen bloody smiley-face button in the Bat-Cave. Since then, “there have been hints that Dr. Manhattan has been active in the background of the DC Universe, manipulating events and characters to some mysterious purpose.” says Johns. No worries, if you haven’t been following that trail of bread crumbs, though; unlike many big comic events, the creators behind this event promise that Doomsday Clock does not require a ton of backstory to understand. The series will be relatively ‘self-contained’ and should be easy for any fan of Watchmen or Superman to pick up. The beginning of the story, after all, should be familiar to anyone who’s read Watchmen. Johns gives a quick synopsis of what to expect and how they approached reintroducing these beloved characters
“Picking up in 1992, Doomsday Clock opens with a variation of the nine-panel grid that begins Watchmen, and the first few pages peek in on familiar Watchmen locales. Things have changed since we last saw these characters and places; as hinted on the final page of Watchmen, Rorschach’s journal has been published by the media, revealing to the public the extent of Ozymandias’ deception. They’re not happy about it, to say the least. Whereas Watchmen famously featured Rorschach (in civilian guise) carrying a sign saying “The End Is Nigh,” Doomsday Clock opens with a sign declaring that “The End Is Here” — and there are a lot more people carrying them this time. In some ways, everyone has become Rorschach. We go through the famous locations: The New York streets, Ozymandias’ business, his northern fortress, and the prison where Rorschach was once kept,” Johns says. “It’s all very deliberate because you want a tour of all these places we’ve been before, but now you see a different side to all of them. Clearly, there’s a lot going on here we weren’t aware of, and there are things that are gonna happen in the prison that is all new. We think it’s important if you deal with Watchmen characters, that the book feels and looks somewhat like what they established because that’s what you want. That said, we’re going to do some very different things than they did, and we hope we’re telling a story that’s going to stand on its own. The pressure is on for us to deliver a story that’s worthy of using these characters. That’s all we’re trying to do. We believe in our story and we think it will deserve their time and readers’ time.”
A personal fan of Watchmen, and very excited to see whats in store for the DC Comic Universe as a result of the return of these characters, I think its safe to say that although original creator Alan Moore isn’t part of this project, some of Moore’s other stories may be in the works as well. There is talk of a Watchmen series coming to HBO as well as two other story arcs of Moore’s that DC has the rights too, that will be explored further as we delve deeper into Doomsday Clock as they have exciting implications and could change the DC Universe in ways you may have never imagined. It’s amazing that thirty-plus years after these stories were pitched they now may soon see publication! Stay tuned as Comic Watch Press Corp will keep you updated!