WARNING: This article includes major spoilers for both the original Watchmen series and for the Doomsday Clock #1 preview released by DC Comics for New York Comic Con.
With DC Comics having released the first pages from Doomsday Clock #1, by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, we thought it would be interesting to go through the ashcan edition and try to identify all of the Watchmen references.
Clearly, the first reference is the name of the project. “Doomsday Clock” refers to the actual Doomsday Clock, a 70-year-old symbol that’s been maintained by the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board. They move the clock closer or further away from midnight to signify how close we are to a global nuclear war. It’s now at two and a half minutes to midnight, which is the closest it has been since 1953, when it was two minutes to midnight (during a year where the Soviet Union successfully tested its first thermonuclear bomb). While two and a half minutes is currently the closest it has come to two minutes, the previous record for second-closest to midnight occurred in 1984, when the clock hit three minutes in the midst of some aggressive Cold War posturing between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was during this period (which lasted until 1989) that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ original Watchmen series was released.
They used the famous imagery of the Doomsday Clock almost hitting midnight throughout Watchmen (the blood on the smiley face button is meant to evoke the Doomsday Clock symbol), including the cover to Watchmen #1 (which also matches the symbol on the cover of Doomsday Clock, only with the Superman symbol being at midnight).
The next reference is on Doomday Clock‘s cover, which features someone holding a sign saying “The End is Here.”
A similar sign, stating “The Ends is Nigh,” is held by someone in the opening panels of Watchmen #1 (the person would later turn out to be Rorschach in his civilian garb).
The lettering in the captions in Doomsday Clock #1’s preview …
,,, is the same as in the above shown Rorschach journal, thus serving as a hint that Rorschach is still alive in Doomsday Clock.
The smoke we see in Doomsday Clock …
… is a reference to the constant smoke that is present throughout Watchmen.
The V symbol that we see in Doomsday Clock …
… is, of course, the logo for Adrian Veidt’s company.
We then see the fountain in the lobby of Veidt’s corporate headquarters, which was the setting for the legendary midpoint of Watchmen #5 (the famous symmetrical issue, where the first half complete echoes the second half until they come together in a shared double-page splash in the middle).
One of the protesters in Doomsday Clock #1 gets shot and dies in the fountain …
… just where the “assailant” dies in Watchmen #5.
When the mob breaks into Veidt’s office, his desk is arranged in the same set-up as it was in Watchmen #1 …
… including, of course, a copy of the New York Gazette that spoiled Veidt’s grand scheme of uniting the world. The Gazette is the newspaper that often brings dire headlines throughout Watchmen.
When the soldiers break into Veidt’s fortress in Doomsday Clock …
They discover his famous display of TV screens right as they are all set to be changed to a single government-sponsored news source. Here, of course, is that famous display of TV screens all showing different channels.
The X-rays showing a tumor in Doomsday Clock …
… have the location of the tumor in the skull be at the same location as the hands in the Doomsday Clock, which, of course, is a common imagery in Watchmen, including most famously the blood on the smiley face button.
Using a real-life figure like William F. Buckley in Doomsday Clock …
… is very much in keeping with Watchmen, which used real figures like Richard Nixon in their comic (Nixon is still president in the alternate reality of Watchmen. Doomsday Clock makes a quick reference to Donald Trump, suggesting he might be president in their alternate 1992).
The final scene in Doomsday Clock evokes a famous sequence in Watchmen where, during a prison breakout, the safest place for the criminals around Rorschach had just been if they had stayed in their cells …
… which is made evident in Doomsday Clock, as the prisoner quickly agrees to stay in his cell.
The chapter title is a line from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias.” The chapter style is the same as in Watchmen, and Watchmen #11 even used another line from that same poem.
The two house ads included in the ashcan (one depicting Batman reading Rorschach’s journal and the other featuring Ozymandias and Lex Luthor), are direct homages of the original house ads for Watchmen.
And here’s Rorschach’s journal, by the way, that Batman is reading.
If there’s that many references in just an ashcan edition, it will be amazing to see how many references there will be in the finished product!
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