We knew Doomsday Clock was going to involve the biggest names in the DC Universe, characters like Superman, Batman, Lex Luthor and The Joker. But some of the expanded material published today by DC Comics hints that some of the company's popular lower-tier heroes and villains might be tied in to a conspiracy at the heart of the DCU.
Ahead of the release of Doomsday Clock #2, DC posted the issue's backmatter early. Among the information revealed is a news clipping that suggests Metamorpho, The Element Man is part of a far-reaching military conspiracy revolving around the abundance of superhumans in the DC Universe.
Originally, Metamorpho’s origin was fairly straight-forward for superhero comics. Rex Mason was an adventurer hired by an evil industrialist to retrieve a mysterious Egyptian artifact. However, upon contact with The Orb of Ra, he was transformed into an Element Man, capable of turning his body into anything from the periodic table. Metamorpho was one of Bob Haney’s weirdest creations, and under the pen of Ramona Fradon he embarked on some of the most bizarre adventures in the Silver Age — which is saying something for DC Comics.
The expanded material in this week’s Doomsday Clock #2 posits another origin for Metamorpho. An article in “The Bulletin” suggests that since the arrival of Superman, the US government has been working to create their own superhumans, giving them a head start in a new arms race. Leaked documents imply that Rex Mason was working voluntarily with Stagg Industries who had been contracted by the US government to create superhumans. Furthermore, several of Metamorpho’s rogues are said to have come forward to say they were contracted by the US government to become supervillains to face off against Metamorpho.
While this may seem like it’s coming out of nowhere, it might actually tie up some loose ends from Geoff Johns’ run on Justice League, in which a new Element Woman was briefly a member. Element Woman joined the team after a recruitment drive, but was drafted into the Doom Patrol by Niles Caulder and hasn’t been seen since. Niles Caulder AKA The Chief is an unscrupulous scientist with a history of working with the government, and as was revealed at the end of Grant Morrison and Richard Case’s iconic Doom Patrol run twenty-five years ago, Caulder was responsible for the accidents which caused Rita Farr, Cliff Steele and Larry Trainor to become Elasti-Girl, Robotman and Negative Man, respectively. He has a history of turning ordinary people into superheroes, and may just have a part to play in this conspiracy.
The article from The Bulletin also names Man-Bat as another scientist contracted by the government to create the means to become superhuman. Considering how many of DC’s heroes are the results of science accidents gone wrong, who knows who else might be a part of this conspiracy? As the article briefly mentions a Russia/Markovia alliance in response to this, could we see the return of Geo-Force as an answer to America’s prevalence of superhumans? Is there really a conspiracy at the heart of the DC Universe which explains the abundance of American superheroes and villains?
Doomsday Clock has already presented many questions about the Watchmen characters in desperate need of answering, but this one page of expanded material brings the DCU into the story in a big way.