WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Doomsday Clock #7 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, on sale now.
When DC Comics ushered in its Rebirth initiative over two years ago, fans interpreted the term "rebirth" in different ways. Some saw it simply as DC coming to its senses after five years of the oft-criticized New 52, while others took it more literally, hoping for the eventual return of many favorite and long-absent characters.
The inaugural and far-reaching one-shot DC Comics: Rebirth appeased both camps, at least to some degree. As intended, the comic whetted readers' appetites for answers, both to existing questions and ones raised within the context of the story. Still unanswered, though, is just exactly what, or who, still stands to be reborn before the Rebirth era is finished.
Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Doomsday Clock #7 may have just provided some answers.
Doc Manhattan Destroys the DC Universe?
The latest issue of Doomsday Clock starts off by uncovering a troubling revelation. After journeying from the world of Watchmen to Earth-0, Doctor Manhattan directly intervened in history and changed the fate of the man destined to become the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott. This issue is the first definitive acknowledgement of Manhattan meddling with events of DC history.
His interference has long been suspected, though. Characters like Wally West, Jay Garrick and Saturn Girl have found their way back into continuity in varying ways after having been absent for years. Their return coincides with the arrival of Doctor Manhattan in the DCU, making it hard to imagine he didn't have something to do with it.
Journey to the Center of the Multiverse
Before Doctor Manhattan started treating the DC Universe like his own private sandbox, he had to go find it first. He presumably left his own world, disgruntled over its decline, in search of a better one. In Doomsday Clock's current issue, regarding the world he now calls home, Manhattan tells Adrian Veidt that he initially believed he could "live among them," which could be a reference to Earth's population or the world's metahumans -- Doc Manhattan was the only character known to have superpowers in his world.
Clearly, something changed Doc's mind. That something was one of his own future visions, revealing him battling an angered Superman. Curiously, Manhattan sees nothing beyond that, save for blackness, as if he has no future beyond that moment. The vision served to disillusion Manhattan -- if the world's greatest embodiment of hope could be brought to this state, then there is likely no hope for this world.
If It Ain't Broke -- Break It
Manhattan didn't really need a disheartening vision of the future to lose hope for this world. He has clearly been here a while -- certainly long enough to see the sociopolitical climate of this world isn't all that different from the one he left. The world's nations are creating and stockpiling their own superheroes, ready to defend themselves against other nations in a metahuman arms race. Manhattan's world was one where its own superheroes had brought the planet to the brink of war.
Seeing that his new world is no place for him, Manhattan has therefore apparently decided to try and change it. As he tells Veidt, he's "in the middle of something," and what he's in the middle of appears to be messing with history -- specifically, superhero history. And he has been pretty productive -- it's probably no coincidence that there's no Justice Society of America in a world where Alan Scott's destiny was fatally altered.