SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Doomsday Clock #8, by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Brad Anderson and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
A metahuman arms race has been brewing in the pages of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Doomsday Clock, with the Supermen Theory firmly cementing the United States of America in the lead. Even as more and more countries have entered the fray, none can seem to hold a candle to the nation that calls itself home to 97 percent of the world’s metahuman population.
However, in Doomsday Clock #8, the costumed cold war finally heats up to nuclear proportions.
The Supermen Theory, of course, is the notion that America’s massive metahuman population is the result of government experimentation in an effort to create super soldiers. In Issue #5, Firestorm denounced this school of thought as nothing more than a conspiracy. Nevertheless, countries across the globe began assembling their own super-teams to go toe-to-toe with the U.S. if necessary.
One such team is The People’s Heroes of Russia, led by Mikhail Arkadin, aka Pozhar, who’s no stranger to Firestorm. In fact, in Doomsday Clock #8, Firestorm stirs the already boiling pot by entering Russia illegally to confront Pozhar face-to-face and flame-to-flame.
“… I know it’s you and your Russian goons that are trying to destroy my life!” Firestorm exclaims as he attacks Pozhar and the rest of The People’s Heroes.
After crashing and burning, Firestorm quickly finds himself being mobbed by the crowd of Russian civilians who’d been watching the mayhem unfold from the ground below. Shouting at them to let him go, he instinctively lets out a massive nuclear blast, and in turn, transforming everyone in the vicinity into glass.
Of course, while Firestorm is horrified by what he’s done, the Russian Prime Minister wastes little time declaring his actions “a calculated terrorist attack carried out by one the United States’ most dangerous metahuman agents.”
Even the intervention of Superman – the universal symbol of peace – does little to douse the flames. After the Man of Steel attempts to prove that Firestorm is able to reverse the damage, the resulting chaos not only earns him a spot alongside his fellow American hero as public enemy number one but also indirectly leads to a number of the glass husks of the civilians being destroyed by gunfire and tanks.
The skirmish finally ends when a seemingly calm and collected Firestorm is approached by Superman before both men, and those around them, are suddenly engulfed in an explosion of blue light. And while the majority of the public believes it was one of the two American heroes who were responsible for the final blast, as evidenced by the interstitial content at the end of the issue, Batman (and us as readers) know it was likely Ozymandias who was playing puppet master, much like he did in Watchmen.
All things considered, it stands to reason that the United States would be willing to give Superman and Firestorm the benefit of the doubt. How the rest of the world reacts, though, remains to be seen.