On paper, Doomsday Clock sounds like every comic book purist’s nightmare. An excuse to fold the sacrosanct Watchmen roster into the DC continuity? In THIS haphazard post-New 52 economy?? For shame. For shame… and yet, ever since the Rebirth event last year, things have started to align in fascinating ways for this bold and – let’s be honest – inevitable experiment.
At Thursday’s DC Comic Con panel, Geoff “Busy All The Time” Johns laid out plans for this brazen crossover, one that first reared its head in the final pages of DC Rebirth #1, with the implication that Dr. Manhattan, amidst his post-Watchmen experimentation with creating/manipulating life, had inadvertently robbed the DC heroes of their joy and loving connections. That’s one hell of a mea culpa, even though DC’s apology for being overly influenced by Watchmen and its ’80s ilk is...to do more Watchmen.
This November’s Doomsday Clock event, first teased with the Watchmen clock face counting down to the Superman logo at the end of The Button – a brilliant four issue Batman/Flash crossover that acts as an emotional post-script to 2011’s Flashpoint – is set to take after Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’ seminal classic in several ways. First and foremost, twelve issues and a nine-panel grid structure (you can’t ape Watchmen without them!), but since that obviously isn’t enough, it’s also going to be a battle of wits as much as a presumably spectacle-laden epic, with both worlds’ greatest minds – Lex Luthor and Adrian Veidt – coming into conflict.
DC also released some official art from the series, by Gary Frank and Brad Anderson:
I didn’t bother with the Before Watchmen prequels, and as much as Alan Moore has made a living adapting and appropriating existing characters, I’m not in love with the fact that him being screwed over by DC way back when is taking the form of the company's have/eat cake apologia. That said, Before Watchmen was announced six years ago, which means I’ve had six years to get used to the less-than-ideal reality where the big corporation is still winning against one of my favourite artists. I’m also more than happy to parse my mixed feelings on the subject because I am, to my own surprise, loving this trajectory and all its meta-textual implications. Rebirth #1, Flash Rebirth #1, Titans Rebirth #1 and the latter Button issues are straight-up beautiful.
Doomsday Clock begins November 23rd, less than a week after the Justice League movie supposedly brings back a brighter, more hopeful movie Superman. Let’s hope all this planning pays off.