DOOMSDAY CLOCK — Is the end nigh?
By RUSSELL BERGER
Back in September of 2011 we saw the birth of DC Comics’ NEW52 that had spun out of their widely popular reboot event, FLASHPOINT, which sent the Flash (Barry Allen) speeding back through time where he stopped Reverse-Flash (Eobard Thawne) from killing his mother, Nora. Though, the NEW52 was widely controversial. It received quite a bit of hate for the fact that characters’ costumes were redesigned (come on people, the trunks had to go,) characters’ origins were altered/condensed and most notably there were characters who simply went missing.
The NEW52 had lasted out its critics, and as of last year — May 30, 2016 — we saw what was confirmed not to be a reboot, but the next step in DC’s history… REBIRTH.
Geoff Johns’ purpose for REBIRTH was simple,
“I really wanted to deliver a tonal shift for the DC Universe so that it could give back that sense of hope and optimism.”¹
Many had thought that the DCU had become too dark and grim compared to what it had been for roughly 75-years. The essential push behind the event was to restore a fan base’s love for the comics they grew up with, but felt abandoned with the NEW52. It was an attempt to bring back those readers, yet not alienating an equally accepting portion of the fan base who loved the NEW52 by keeping its continuity going.
In the DC Universe: REBIRTH #1 we saw a lot of things from the PRE52 — anything before the NEW52 — returning, such as relationships that had been completely forgotten, characters returned to their previous glory and there was almost nothing bigger than the return of an extremely beloved and missed speedster…
Barry was able to connect just enough with Wally to pull him from the Speed Force and back into reality, which almost instantly gives birth to some major revelations. When Barry ran back and created FLASHPOINT by saving his mother’s life only to then fix it by running back and allowing her to die, that moment allowed for someone to tamper with time. It allowed this individual to take 5-years of time from the time-line, and give birth to the NEW52 and its dark-and-gritty nature.
If you’re a comic book fan, it didn’t take much from DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1 to come to the conclusion of who stole those 5-years, and infected the DCU with darkness. From “Chapter 1: Lost” to the “Epilogue” there were MASSIVE tells of who it could be, but there was one particular panel in the issue that straight up gave it away.
The panel is practically pulled straight out of WATCHMEN when Dr. Manhattan kills Rorschach. Though the panel in DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1 was of Pandora — who was a major character and plot pusher throughout the NEW52 — getting 86’ed, there was no arguing that Dr. Jonathan Osterman obliterated her and therein was the one responsible for the missing time.
This sparked fan theories from every corner of the CB spectrum, and speculation of the possibility that the entire Watchmen were now in the DCU. Sure, Alan Moore — creator of the WATCHMEN — would be furious and beside himself, but then again, when isn’t he in an uproar when a creation of his like the Watchmen are being used? I’ll wait… no? Nothing? That’s because he’s always furious. But then nothing on the Watchmen front, that was until the announcement of “The Button” arc, which would crossover between the titles BATMAN and THE FLASH.
The arc would revolve around a mysterious button — the iconic bloodstained button from WATCHMEN — that Batman had found in the Batcave behind the letter Flash had given to him from his father, Thomas Wayne, back in FLASHPOINT. This would also bring back one of the biggest characters from that event, Reverse-Flash, who nearly beat Batman to death after having torn up the letter.
Though, in iconic fashion, Dr. Manhattan would save the “Caped Crusader” from certain death by making Reverse-Flash meet the same fate as Rorschach and Pandora before him.
At this point, it’s a lock that something massive is on the horizon. Something that would pit WATCHMEN against Justice League. And our prayers to the DC Gods were answered with the announcement of a massive 12-part event titled… DOOMSDAY CLOCK,
“If there’s one being out there that could mess with time in such a radical way and challenge hope, I just felt like Dr. Manhattan was it… He [Superman] is the story.”²
Nerd-gasm commence! We’re getting the face of DC Comics, Superman, taking on a God in Dr. Manhattan come this series. Two insanely massive powerhouses duking it out. All in an event that takes place 1-year prior to current DC continuity with the rest of the universe catching up come issue-12. How could there be anything better than this as a comic book fan? Us getting to see the Watchmen on the same pages as the Justice League. I personally can’t think of much of anything more extravagant than this, and that’s coming off of DARK NIGHTS: METAL #1.
Now I posed an ominous question that played off of Rorschach’s shouting in WATCHMEN, “Is the end nigh?” What does DOOMSDAY CLOCK mean for the DCU? Could we see a massive reboot come out of this? The simple answer is no. No the end is not “nigh.” No we won’t see a massive (or even subtle) reboot. DOOMSDAY CLOCK is an event to pay off on roughly 8-years of hard work from DC Comics. A way to pay the fans back with an event that’s going to blow our mind. It’s to solidify REBIRTH by as Geoff Johns said, “This challenges Rebirth, and is the story of, ‘Can I reaffirm Rebirth?'”
I think that in the current time, and political climate we’re in, REBIRTH and DOOMSDAY CLOCK are perfect measures of what’s going on and what we as people should be doing. We should be striving to make things better, and to remain hopeful. Because in the end, we are the only ones who can make changes and turn hate and anger into hope and the future.
DOOMSDAY CLOCK #1 hits a shelf nearest you on November 22nd.