Doomsday Clock is a lot of things for DC Comics. It’s the much awaited/highly controversial sequel to Watchmen, depending on where you stand. It’s the next big event with major implications on the DC Universe’s continuity in the vein of Crisis on Infinite Earths. It’s a personal response from superhero comics to Watchmen, from a creative team who have embodied the genre for decades.
However, at it’s heart, Doomsday Clock is a story about two super men with different philosophies: Clark Kent and Jon Osterman, or as they’re better known, Superman and Doctor Manhattan. One issue in, the scope of Doomsday Clock is relatively small and focused on the Watchmen world, but we know that things are going to get cosmic and multiversal at some stage, which begs the question: How does the structure of Grant Morrison’s Multiversity affect Doomsday Clock?
The DC Multiverse is in a weird state of flux right now, and it’s mostly because people ignored Convergence. Grant Morrison worked for nearly a decade on The Multiversity, a series of one-shots featuring different Earths in DC’s 52 world multiverse which played with the form of comics in a way no superhero comic had attempted and cast the reader itself as the villain. At the end of The Multiversity, the heroes of Operation Justice Incarnate discovered there were other multiverses out there, which was a neat quirk which allowed for the existence of the Marvel multiverse, or the multiverse of the CW shows, or the multiverse of the Injustice games. The cosmic scope of the DC Universe changed drastically and opened up in a big way, but at the same time, Convergence was doing something quite different.
Convergence was a two-month long event that replaced the main line of DC Comics to cover for the publisher’s move from New York to Burbank, California but it ended in a big way that should have had lasting changes to continuity. The even ended with pre-Flashpoint Superman and Parallax Hal Jordan traveling back in time to change the events of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths so that the the infinite multiverse remained, although the worlds that had been updated in The Multiversity remained updated. Even for DC Comics, this was overly complicated and not explained properly, so since then most comics have continue to address the multiverse as one composed of fifty-two worlds, with comics such as Green Lanterns and Superman exploring these worlds ever so slightly.
So, what does this have to do with Doomsday Clock? Well, Doomsday Clock is a series about Superman and Doctor Manhattan, but thanks to Grant Morrison there exists a character in the DC Multiverse who is both. Captain Allen Adam of Earth-4 was first introduced during Final Crisis as his world’s Superman counterpart, along with Captain Marvel of Earth-5, Overman of Earth-10 and Comrade Superman of Earth-30. The characters of Earth-4 are all the characters which DC Comics acquired from Charlton Comics such as Blue Beetle, The Question and Nightshade; the characters which inspired Watchmen. While most of the characters of Earth-4 remain somewhat the same, Grant Morrison updated Captain Atom to be a Doctor Manhattan analogue also, turning him into a feedback loop of a character. Superman inspired Captain Atom. Captain Atom inspired Doctor Manhattan. Doctor Manhattan inspired Captain Allen Adam.
Captain Allen Adam was next seen in Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely and Nathan Fairbairn’s much lauded The Multiversity: Pax Americana, which filtered the characters of Earth-4 through a Watchmen inspired lens to tell a story about the dangers of deconstructing that which we love. Much of the story, its themes and is structure are built around the cyclical nature of things and the story is presented in reverse, with Captain Adam being the only character who can see outside of that and understand the true nature of things are put together. However, unlike much of The Multiversity which is eventually addressed and tidied up, at one point in the middle of Pax Americana, Captain Adam is banished by a government who can’t control him and that’s the last we see of him. He escapes the narrative structure of the story and the story all together for somewhere else, with the implication being that his exposure to the tainted comic book Ultra Comics did something to him to open his eyes. It’s the one big dangling plot point of The Multiversity, and it’s begging for someone to pick up on it.
What if the villain of Doomsday Clock isn’t Doctor Manhattan at all, but is a twisted version of him; a corrupted amalgamation of himself and Superman driven to madness by the poison of Ultra Comics. It would certainly keep in tone with the idea that above all else, Doomsday Clock is a superhero book; what’s more superhero than two heroes meeting and fighting before realizing there’s a bigger threat to be dealt with and teaming up to deal with it. The re-introduction of Captain Allen Adam would tie up his story from Pax Americana while opening up Doomsday Clock to the worlds of the Multiverse. It could address the complicated nature of DC’s Multiverse post-Convergence and allow the publisher to do a Zero Hour style tidy of its continuity — nothing too drastic like a Crisis, but a spring clean of some of the more contradictory points of order.
Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke addressed the core difference between Superman and Doctor Manhattan way back in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3D #2. When faced with overwhelming odds and the death of all things, Captain Allen Adam froze up, unable to fathom how people so small could be so significant, but Superman response is one of the most underrated Superman declarations of all time. It all matters to Superman; that’s why we need him and that’s why he’ll always win, because unlike the likes of Doctor Manhattan and Captain Allen Adam, he doesn’t waste time hiding away contemplating whether humanity is worth saving, he was taught by two incredible farmers from Kansas that it intrinsically is, and nothing will stop him from doing it.