SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Doomsday Clock #4, by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Brad Anderson and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
Thus far, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s DC Universe-meets-Watchmen event Doomsday Clock hasn’t shied away from delving into the fate of many familiar faces from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ original tale. In some cases, such as The Comedian, that means witnessing all new beginnings. In other cases, such as Ozymandias, it means we could be witnessing the beginning of the end. Meanwhile, in Rorschach’s case, it means witnessing the birth of a legacy.
However, perhaps no original Watchmen character’s fate is a more perfect blend of beauty and tragedy than that of Byron Lewis, aka Mothman.
Born to a wealthy family, Lewis lived a life of privilege, devoid of any real hardship. It wasn’t until he returned home from a trip overseas and discovered the United States in a state of disarray that he decided to use his resources and his taste for adventure to help the less fortunate by fighting crime, corruption and oppression.
Eventually, the newly dubbed Mothman joined up with a group of like-minded individuals called the Minutemen. Unfortunately, years and years of fighting crime, not to mention his own dangerous vices, caused Lewis to become increasingly unstable. So much, in fact, that he ended up being committed to the Fitzgerald Mental Home in Waterville, Maine in 1962, where he lived out the remaining 30 years of his life (as revealed in Doomsday Clock #1).
However, while the circumstances surrounding his demise were absent from his obituary, Doomsday Clock #4 shines a light on the life – and death – of Byron Lewis.
As the issue kicks off, we quickly learn not only that the new Rorschach is Reggie Long, the son of the original Rorschach’s psychiatrist, Dr. Malcolm Long, but we also learn his fate following the massacre caused by Ozymandias in the original Watchmen. Like many others who survived the destruction, Reggie was driven mad by what he witnessed, and as such, he quickly found himself in the Fitzgerald Mental Home.
It was there that Reggie first met Lewis, whom he witnessed flying off the roof of the mental home with a set of Mothman-like wings he jerry-rigged together with some bed sheets. Of course, Lewis wouldn’t be gone long, as he was quickly apprehended and brought back to the home, but upon his return, he and Reggie began to form a bond.
Reggie was inspired by Lewis’ mindset of only seeing what he wanted to see, and Lewis was simply happy to have someone around that he could inspire. In fact, Lewis routinely retrieved Reggie’s father’s belongings and brought them to him, including everything his father had on Rorschach, and he even helped train him to become a “one-man Minutemen.”
Eventually, though, the world learned the truth about Ozymandias, and suddenly, Reggie had someone to blame for his parents’ death. Setting the mental home ablaze, he and Lewis fled on foot, but suddenly, Lewis stopped dead in his tracks and looked back at the roaring flames. Then, like a moth flying towards a bug zapper, Lewis spread his wings and began walking towards the inferno. “It’s been calling to me,” he told Reggie. “I see it.”
As Lewis’ silhouette disappeared into the flames, Reggie continued running until he found a safe place to gather his thoughts. Taking a seat on an old tree stump, he opened his bag and discovered a letter Lewis had left for him, explaining that it was time for them to go their separate ways. However, he also left Reggie with two parting gifts: the original Rorschach’s mask, and everything he needed to find Ozymandias’ compound in Antarctica.
Even though that was in 1992, when we return to the present day, we see that Lewis’ words are still ringing in Reggie’s head as he sits in his cell at Arkham Asylum: “See what I want to see.” Even in death, he continues to inspire the new Rorschach, and even though his was a life of tragedy, Doomsday Clock #4 proves that Byron Lewis didn’t die in vain.