SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Doomsday Clock #3 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, on sale now.
When Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen #1 debuted in 1986, its cover boldly featured what came to be revealed as The Comedian's iconic blood-spattered smiley face button. Investigating the murder of Eddie Blake, the button was discovered by Rorschach after learning Blake himself was The Comedian, and later came to be turned it over to his former colleague Dan Dreiberg. Dreiberg, in turn, reunited the trinket with its owner when he tossed it into Blake's grave at his funeral service.
Within the span of the series' first two issues, the journey of the button was over – or so we thought. Unseen for three decades, save in flashback, the button next turned up in the most unexpected location of all: the Batcave of Earth-0. Readers saw this game changing moment at the conclusion of DC Comics: Rebirth #1 in 2016. The Comedian's button had somehow traversed from the world of the Watchmen to that of Batman, and its travels from that point on were even farther reaching.
But how might that seemingly disposable trinket have made it to Earth-0 in the first place, and how does it jibe with its more recent arrival in Doomsday Clock? Strap in and hold on, for no other worthless trinket has ever made such a multiversal journey.
It should be noted that Batman found the button in his cave, with The Comedian's bloodstain still intact. This was despite the fact that Dreiberg had very obviously scraped Blake's dried blood off the button before burying it with him. The crusted blood had become more than just a matter of artistic license to ensure that the button would be recognized by readers; through some seemingly miraculous continuity trick, The Comedian's blood somehow still remained on the item, even after being embedded in a rock wall a universe away.
Within the context of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Doomsday Clock, this actually makes sense. In the latest issue, The Comedian's known fate is upended, as its revealed that Blake was saved seconds before his fatal street dive, after being thrown through his apartment window by Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias, as shown in flashback in Watchmen #1. His savior? None other than the man professed by some to be a god: Doctor Manhattan. Before impact, Manhattan transports Blake to the shores of Metropolis, thereby explaining The Comedian's surprising reunion with Veidt at the end of issue #2.
Yes, Manhattan transports Blake's button with him, so it's now on Earth-0, for a second time, but this doesn't explain its earlier discovery in the Batcave. While not readily apparent within the story, Johns himself has stated that Doomsday Clock takes place in the DC Universe's current continuity's near future, approximately one year from now. This means that The Comedian's arrival actually postdates Batman's initial discovery of his button – and it's therefore not the first time the button has made the trip to Earth-0.