“Issue #7 will change the story completely,” Geoff Johns warned Polygon at San Diego Comic-Con this year. He was referring to Doomsday Clock, DC Comics’ high-profile series in which characters from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen traverse dimensions to visit the DC Comics universe. And he was correct.
Doomsday Clock #7 redefines the series in several key ways and brings one of its biggest players out of the shadows for the first time. And most tantalizingly, we now know how the whole series is going to end. Probably.
[Ed. note: The rest of this post will contain spoilers for Doomsday Clock #1. And Watchmen.]
In Doomsday Clock #7, Ozymandias succeeds in his mission of forcing Doctor Manhattan to appear and answer some of his questions, making it the first issue of the series in which the omnipotent doctor appears (outside of a few flashbacks). The issue even opens with Jon’s (Doctor Manhattan’s given name, Jon Osterman) characteristically unhinged-from-time narration.
“It’s July 16th, 1940,” a caption reads. “A young engineer named Alan Scott is riding a train over a bridge when it collapses. He miraculously survives by clutching onto a green lantern. It’s November 22nd, 1940. Alan is sitting at a round table wearing a mask, waiting to see who will speak first.”
Doomsday Clock #7 changes a lot of what we know about its story, and in doing so, ties it back to what we’ve known about it since the beginning of DC’s 2016 Rebirth relaunch. That is, Doctor Manhattan came to the DC universe that after the events of Watchmen and significantly changed its timeline without anyone realizing.
For examples, over the first six issues of Doomsday Clock, Johns has made plenty of references to the Justice Society, a team of superheroes who preceded the Justice League as the first generation of superheroes in the DC Universe. In Doomsday Clock #7, Doctor Manhattan describes how he moved the green lantern out of Alan Scott’s reach. Scott died in the bridge collapse and never became the hero known as Green Lantern, and it’s implied that the Justice Society never formed.
Jon doesn’t explain why he felt that Alan Scott needed to die, but he does explain why he came to the DC universe in the first place.
And in the same breath, he tells us why he has remained in the DC universe while the Watchmen setting descends into chaos.
Jon can’t see his future in Doomsday Clock, and the final thing he can see is Superman throwing a punch at him. Just like when this happened in Watchmen, he’s filled with an innocent and unnerving curiosity about it. He theorizes that there are two potential reasons for his future blindness issue. Either he is unable to see what happens next because it is the moment that Superman destroys him, or because it is the moment that Jon destroys the universe.
Geoff Johns has said that Superman is central to the story of Doomsday Clock, but oddly, the Man of Steel has barely appeared in the series so far. Doomsday Clock #7 reveals a lot of secrets about its characters’ pasts, including Ozymandias, the new Rorschach, and Marionette and Mime. And, fittingly for its first issue with Doctor Manhattan, it seems like it reveals a lot about the future, too. The narrative climax of Doomsday Clock will include a showdown of some kind between Doctor Manhattan and Superman.