Doomsday Clock #9 Annotated, Part 2: Charlton Heroes, Headquarters & Firestorm Fiction

WARNING: The following post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Doomsday Clock #9, on sale now.

Like its predecessor, Doomsday Clock has for the most part been telling a fairly dense story. Since it's not just a sequel to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen, but a bona fide Big Event which reshapes DC Comics' shared superhero universe, it's got some lofty goals. Accordingly, these annotations have tried to see what D-Clock is trying to do via its parade of Easter eggs, minutiae, and assorted narrative devices.

Still, not every issue can hold hidden treasures; and this one is probably the series' least complicated installment. Although we're not yet into spoiler territory, for now we'll say that the issue spends most of its page count calling back to Geoff Johns' previous DC events (and one in particular). The issue ends on a significant revelation about the history of the DC Universe, and it does advance the overall plot in a meaningful way; but it's pretty straightforward about everything.

Therefore, grab your copy of Issue #9 and get ready to follow along, because we've still got a lot to get through!

Doomsday Clock issue #9 was written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Gary Frank, colored by Brad Anderson and lettered by Rob Leigh. Amie Brockaway-Metcalf designed the text pages. Brian Cunningham was the Editor, with Amedeo Turturro as Associate Editor.

Bat-Fam, Shaz-Fam, Charltons (Pages 5, 16)

New for 1986!
The ex-Charlton heroes get their own DC house ad (1986)

We're still on that massive roll call, and Page 5 starts off inside the Bat-Rocket. Rex "Metamorpho" Mason has been mentioned already in this series, so here he's joined by a pair of fellow Outsiders. Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden created Jefferson "Black Lightning" Pierce for April 1977's Black Lightning issue #1, while Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo created Tatsu "Katana" Yamashiro for July 1983's Brave and the Bold issue #200.

Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson created Dick "Robin" Grayson for April 1940's Detective Comics issue #38, and Marv Wolfman and George Pérez put him in the Nightwing suit starting in June 1984's Tales of the Teen Titans issue #43. Likewise, Gerry Conway and Don Newton created Jason "Robin" Todd, who first appeared in March 1983's Batman issue #357. Judd Winick and Doug Mahnke introduced Jason as the new Red Hood in February 2005's Batman issue #635.

Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino created Barbara "Batgirl" Gordon for January 1967's Detective Comics issue #359. Here she's wearing her New 52-style costume, which she hasn't worn since October 2014's Batgirl issue #34. Edmond Hamilton and Sheldon Moldoff created Batwoman (Kathy Kane) for July 1956's Detective Comics issue #233; but this is the Kate Kane version, created by Greg Rucka and J.G. Jones and first appearing in August 2006's 52 issue #7. (Kate's first Batwoman appearance was in September 2006's issue #9.) We think that the blonde woman is Stephanie "Spoiler" Brown, created by Chuck Dixon and Tom Lyle for August 1992's Detective issue #647.

We're guessing that the penultimate group is in the Pax Romana. Pat Masulli and Bill Fraccio created Son of Vulcan for May 1965's Mysteries Of Unexplored Worlds issue #46. Given an array of super-powers by the Roman gods, reporter Johnny Mann fought evil first for Charlton Comics, before DC took over that company's characters in the 1980s. Johnny was killed in 1991's War of the Gods miniseries, and several years later Scott Beatty and Kieron Grant created a second Son of Vulcan (Miguel Devante) for a short-lived SOV series debuting in August 2005. Nevertheless, based on the costume, this appears to be the original Son of Vulcan.

Naturally, he's on a ship with the erstwhile Marvel Family, who also get their powers (directly or otherwise) from classical mythology. Bill Parker and C.C. Beck created Billy "Captain Marvel" Batson for February 1940's Whiz Comics issue #2, but thanks to the nuances of intellectual property law, he's now called Shazam. Ed Herron and Mac Raboy created Billy's colleague Freddy Freeman, a/k/a Captain Marvel Junior, for the December 26, 1941 issue of Whiz (#25). Otto Binder and Marc Swayz created Mary "Mary Marvel" Batson for the December 11, 1942 issue of Captain Marvel Adventures (#18). The others are members of the New 52-era "Shazam Family," created by Geoff Johns and first appearing as such in August 2013's Justice League issue #21 (pencilled by Gary Frank). They include Eugene Choi, Pedro Pena and Darla Dudley, all of whom first appeared in July 2011's Flashpoint issue #1 (pencilled by Andy Kubert). They were incorporated into the main DC timeline as of June 2012's Justice League issue #8 (pencilled by Frank).

Geoff Johns and Lee Moder created Courtney "Stargirl" Whitmore for July 1999's Stars and STRIPE issue #0. Back when there was a Justice Society, Stargirl and Captain Marvel were teammates.

Last but certainly not least are the Charlton characters in Blue Beetle's Bug. Steve Ditko created, in whole or part, Blue Beetle (Ted Kord), Captain Atom, Nightshade and the Question (Vic Sage). Ditko and Gary Friedrich created Ted Kord for November 1966's Captain Atom issue #83; Ditko and Joe Gill created Captain Atom for March 1960's Space Adventures issue #33; Ditko and David Kaler created Nightshade for September 1966's Captain Atom issue #82; and Ditko created the Question for June 1967's Blue Beetle issue #1. They are the characters who inspired Watchmen's Nite Owl II, Doctor Manhattan, Silk Spectre II and Rorschach. The other Charlton-influenced Watchmen characters were Ozymandias (Peter Cannon, whose rights are currently with Dynamite Comics) and the Comedian (Peacemaker). That reminds us – Joe Gill and Pat Boyette created Christopher "Peacemaker" Smith for November 1966's Fightin' Five issue #40. He appears on Page 16. DC did try to make these characters into their own team, as seen in the poorly-titled September 1999-February 2000 6-issue miniseries The L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons). Written and inked by Bob Layton and pencilled by dink Giordano, it didn't get much traction.

The DC versions of Captain Atom and the Question have changed significantly from the Ditko-created Charlton Comics originals. Cary Bates and Pat Broderick gave Captain Atom a new secret identity and man-out-of-time origin story (March 1987's Captain Atom issue #1), while Denny O'Neil and Denys Cowan remade the Question into a Zen-influenced martial artist (February 1987's The Question issue #1). As if putting all these characters in the Bug weren't enough, this issue shows us Captain Atom versus Doctor Manhattan, on Page 27.

Other characters who we can presume were on the ships, and just not seen until now, show up on Page 16. Dave Wood and Carmine Infantino created Buddy "Animal Man" Baker for September 1965's Strange Adventures issue #180. Infantino and John Broome created Ralph "Elongated Man" Dibny for April-May 1960's Flash issue #112. Gerry Conway and Bob Oksner created Mari "Vixen" McCabe for July 1981's Action Comics issue #521. Jack Kirby created Etrigan the Demon for August-September 1972's Demon issue #1.

John Broome and Murphy Anderson created the Atomic Knights for a series of post-apocalyptic adventures starting in June 1960's Strange Adventures issue #117 (and set, incidentally, in the wastelands of 1992, following the Hydrogen War of 1986). The Knights' leader was named Gardner Grayle. Eventually the Atomic Knights were revamped for present-day use, appearing in the Infinite Crisis tie-in miniseries Battle for Bludhaven (starting in June 2006) and then in Final Crisis. The Atomic Knights wear high-tech armor and ride giant greyhounds, which you can see faintly on Page 16. The Knight in this issue can be seen more clearly on Page 30.

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