WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Doomsday Clock #2 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, in stores now.
There’s definitely a lot to unpack in the most recent issue of Doomsday Clock. From the arrival of the Watchmen characters in the DC Universe to Bruce Wayne’s psych-eval by Rorschach, there are plenty of big moments that will have fans talking and theorizing until issue #3 arrives.
But there are also smaller moments that are easy to miss amid the big twists and surprises — moments that could hint at crucial revelations. In fact, there is one very important question that pops up when Ozymandias and Rorschach break into a library to find out all that they can about the DCU.
In a single panel, Ozymandias takes note of the world’s great number of metahumans, and Rorschach theorizes, almost in passing, that Dr. Manhattan may have created some of them. Considering that there has always been an incredibly large number of metahumans in the DCU, this begs the question of just how involved Manhattan might or might not have been in their evolution.
It’s likely no coincidence that the backmatter of the issue dives deep into the notion of metahuman origins. Focusing on “The Supermen Theory,” the articles call into question the vast number of metas on Earth, which represent roughly 12% of the population — most of whom are located in the United States of America.
This information, combined with Rorschach’s theory, paints an intriguing picture. Since we’re unsure of exactly how long Dr. Manhattan has been in the DCU, could it be that he was the one responsible for creating such a large number of metahumans in this new world he found himself in? Manhattan, who was the only superhero on his world, might have tried a different approach in his new world. Ever the cold puppet master, the DCU’s Earth could simply be an experiment conducted by him.
Throughout the years, there have been a few attempts at explaining the rising number of metahumans in DC Comics. Perhaps most notably, the miniseries Invasion! — by Keith Giffen, Bill Mantlo, Todd McFarlane and Bart Sears — saw an alien race known as the Dominators deploy a Gene Bomb that detonated an energy all around the world, affecting metahumans everywhere. The “Dominator Invasion” is actually mentioned by name in Doomsday Clock #2‘s backmatter, and might be the thread that ties the miniseries firmly to Dr. Manhattan.
Take into consideration the release date of Invasion!; the miniseries was published in 1988, only a year after Watchmen concluded in ’87. At the end of Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan departed his own universe in search of a new one, which means that he could have easily found himself in the DCU the year after.
If the Doctor was present at the time of Invasion!, it’s possible he was partially, if not completely, responsible for the event. His manipulation could have created metahumans, something that would in turn have gotten the attention of the Dominators. Or, perhaps Manhattan was disguised as the one Dominator who would set off the Gene Bomb. With his unlimited power set, either possibility is feasible.
It doesn’t seem to be an accident that Invasion!, an old DC Comics crossover that is rarely mentioned (outside of influencing last year’s ill-received Arrowverse crossover), is name-dropped in Doomsday Clock. This could be further proof that shows how long Manhattan has been influencing the DC Universe, and it’s entirely possible that further issues of the series may flash back back in time to the days of the Invasion!.
Dr. Manhattan has yet to reveal himself in Doomsday Clock, though his role and influence already loom large. Similar to the original Watchmen series, we wouldn’t be surprised to see an entire issue devoted to the character, one that could show his not-so-humble beginnings in the DCU and reveal what role he may have played in the planet’s metahuman evolution.
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