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DC Comics’ Watchmen crossover hides an Easter egg for another famous comic

A place where someone had a very bad day

Killing joke
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

If you look closely enough at one moment of the latest issue of DC Comics’ Doomsday Clock, you’ll catch a reference to DC’s other hit Alan Moore comic, The Killing Joke.

Doomsday Clock #2 is full of Easter eggs for the attentive, well-read fan with an iron-clad memory — as you would expect any crossover between the Watchmen and DC Universe written by DC Entertainment’s chief creative officer to be.

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for Doomsday Clock.]

There’s a smattering of references to the forgotten heroes of DC’s Golden Age, erased from continuity by the company’s 2011 New 52 reboot; as well as to an even more obscure detective character.

But the comic’s Killing Joke reference might be the quietest of the lot, done without a single word of text. Doomsday Clock #2 is the comic where Ozymandias, Rorschach, Marionette and Mime manage to crash from their own Earth to into the DC Universe’s on the search for Doctor Manhattan.

And I mean that literally: the repurposed owlship makes a rough landing in an condemned amusement park just outside Gotham City.

The owlship crashes in Gotham City in Doomsday Clock #2, DC Comics 2017. Gary Frank, Geoff Johns/DC Comics

But hang on. That particular condemned amusement park looks kind of familiar. Note the ferris wheel and the domed building with the exterior, spiral slide.

The Joker inspects an abandoned carnival with a realtor in The Killing Joke, DC Comics 1988.
The Joker inspects an abandoned carnival with a realtor in The Killing Joke.
Alan Moore, Brian Bolland/DC Comics

And hang on, here’s that pink elephant...

The Joker inspects an abandoned carnival in The Killing Joke, DC Comics 1988 Alan Moore, Brian Bolland/DC Comics

Indeed, it looks an awful lot like writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank are making a deliberate homage — maybe even a textual connection — between this abandoned amusement park and the abandoned amusement park that the Joker takes over in The Killing Joke, as drawn by Brian Bolland.

Like Watchmen, The Killing Joke was written by Alan Moore. In it, the Joker attempts to use the amusement park’s funhouse as a sort of mental abattoir to drive Commissioner Gordon insane and prove, once and for all, that there’s no man who isn’t “one bad day” away from being just as crazy and sadistic as he is. The amusement park becomes the setting for about half of the enduring comic story, including the entirety of its climax.

Whether this is just an Easter egg, or something that Johns and Frank intend to return to in later issues is anyone’s guess. Doomsday Clock #2 closes with the implication that two of the Watchmen setting’s costumed criminals are at large in it — so just about anything could go.

The next level of puzzles.

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