WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Doomsday Clock #7, by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank and Brad Anderson, on sale now!
Whether you love it, hate it or just feel a tad ambivalent about it, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Watchmen sequel, Doomsday Clock, is nothing short of a fascinating experiment in modern comic book storytelling. To take a work as seminal as Alan Moore, Dave Gibbon and John Higgins' landmark series Watchmen and incorporate its characters into the larger DC Universe is one of the most audacious ideas even put into practice in the modern graphic medium.
This is not hyperbole. For many comic readers, Watchmen acts as the gold standard in superhero deconstruction stories. Everything from the color palette used to the panel structure in the 1987 miniseries was employed with the intent to channel the days of Golden and Silver Age comics. The book's subject matter was designed to corrupt the innocent superhero stories of yesteryear by viewing them through the lens of the Reagan Era's cultural nihilism.
Watchmen was self-contained and had a definitive ending, so the idea of it needing a follow up is damn near laughable -- but much like the heroes within their pages, comic book properties never truly die. The lasting effect of Watchmen's legacy has sustained the mythos told within the work for over 30 years. Resurrecting the property through expansion has been attempted before, however, in the form of the comic banner Before Watchmen, which consisted of a several miniseries and one-shots exploring the exploits of the titular team (and their predecessors) before the events of the original 12-issue series.
The results were mixed at best, but when the various titles of Before Watchmen worked they expanded on the world in very heartfelt ways (Darwyn Cooke's Minutemen might have been the most exemplary of the lot). With Doomsday Clock, the characters from Watchmen are looking to the future for the first time, and they have company. Several iconic characters from DC's pantheon have appeared, and even battled or teamed up with members of the Watchmen, but the one that has been teased from the start has finally been set in motion by Doomsday Clock #7. That is, Superman facing off against Doctor Manhattan.