WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Doomsday Clock #1 by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank and Brad Anderson, on sale now.
After over a year of teasing from DC Comics, the controversial and eagerly-anticipated quasi-Watchmen sequel Doomsday Clock is finally out and it answers many of the questions left unanswered at the end of Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins’ masterpiece while presenting many more mysteries to decode.
But the biggest reveal in the pages of Doomsday Clock #1 isn’t a shocking return or a surprise twist (sorry, Rorschach fans). The biggest mystery unfolds over the course of the entire issue, as we learn what happened to the world in the near-decade since Ozymandias dropped a genetically engineered psychic space squid on Manhattan, killing three million people... and ushering in world peace.
Look On My Works, Ye Mighty
The ending of Watchmen remains one of the most shocking and revelatory endings not just in comics but in all of science fiction. Alan Moore admits to nicking it from an ending of The Outer Limits, where a scientist plans to turn himself into a monstrous looking alien invader in order to terrify the nations of the world into unity. However, what Moore, Gibbons and Higgins did with a similar story took it above and beyond the original influence. Keep in mind Moore hadn’t seen the episode, he’d merely read about it in a book about essential American cult television. The shock doesn’t just come from the plan or the number of dead, it comes from Ozymandias’ casual attitude towards mass murder and the off-handed way he admits, “I did it thirty-five minutes ago”.
The scientist's plan in that The Outer Limits episode goes awry — his spaceship crashes and he’s shot by hunters in the forest. And ss we discover in Doomsday Clock #1, Adrian Veidt’s plot similarly didn’t go according to plan, with far more disastrous results. Watchmen ends on an ambiguous note, leaving it up to the readers whether Rorschach's journal is discovered and the plot exposed or not. However, Doomsday Clock #1 confirms that what’s now known as The Great Lie was exposed by The New York Gazette, which only served to send the world into further chaos.
Since then, Ozymandias has been out of the public eye, hiding from the many world governments and law enforcement agencies that would see him arrested and tried for the murder of three million and the tens of thousands who suffered permanent psychological damage. We see a raid on his Antarctic base Karnak, and though unsuccessful, the soldiers discover an incredibly important plot element in the form of an x-ray seemingly showing a tumor growing in the patient’s brain.