SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Doomsday Clock #5 by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Brad Anderson and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
The DC Universe is a big place with an extensive history, and losing that scope was one of the biggest problems with the publisher’s 2011 “New 52” initiative. A big part of the Rebirth line launched almost two years ago was bringing back those bonds between characters and the rich history of the DC Universe; restoring much of the abandoned continuity and addressing the missing heroes and the missing time.
On the surface, Doomsday Clock may be a story about the Watchmen characters crossing over into the DC Universe, but there’s so much more going on. Set a nebulous “one year from now” from the current DC offerings, Doomsday Clock presents a world much more paranoid and suspicious of superheroes and the prevalence of “The Supermen Theory” — which states that heroes and villains such as Metamorpho, Man-Bat and Firestorm were created by the United States government — has led to a metahuman arms race with multiple world powers forming their own super-teams.
The back-matter of Doomsday Clock #5 gives more info on each of these teams, providing team rosters and highlighting significant members of each country’s super-team. With over seventy heroes listed, the metahuman arms race of Doomsday Clock has unearthed some of the most obscure international heroes in the DC Universe, helping to bring back that sense of scope and scale that was sacrificed in the 2011 relaunch.
So, who are the heroes protecting national interests across the globe, and where have we seen them before? We’ve done a deep dive into our back-issues to bring you everything you need to know about every hero conscripted into the metahuman arms race.
The People’s Heroes (Russia)
Given the parallels to the never-ending Cold War of Watchmen’s timeline and current geo-political tensions, it’s fitting that the most prevelant international superteam are Russia’s The People’s Heroes, led by Mikhail Arkadin aka Pozhar. Pozhar was a Russian hero who came into conflict with Ronnie Raymond and eventually found the pair found themselves merged to create a new version of Firestorm. Later, along with a artificially created Firestorm clone, Raymond and Arkadin became the Fire Elemental of Earth, teaming up with other Elementals such as Swamp Thing and Red Tornado.
Several more characters from John Ostrander’s run on Firestorm are on The People’s Heroes, including Arkadin’s niece Firebird, Morozko, Perun, Rusalka and Vikhor, who together made up the teenage team known as Soyuz. Also from this era is Steel Wolf or Stalnoivolk as he was named in his original appearances, a Firestorm villain who later became tangled up with the Suicide Squad. The most recognizable hero on the team would be Red Star, who has served as a Teen Titan on numerous occasions. Lady Flash was also a big part of Mark Waid’s run on the title in the 90s, serving as the right-hand of Savitar, Vostok is a member of the Aquaman-allied heroes, The Others and Negative Woman was a member of the second incarnation of the Doom Patrol, which we’ll get back to when we visit India’s superteam.
The final members of the team are a touch more obscure; Snow Owl appeared in one issue of an Artemis miniseries and Tundra was Russia’s representative on The Global Guardians who debuted in an issue of Justice League Quarterly and only made two more appearances during Greg Ruck’s first run on Wonder Woman. Finally, Black Eagle was the name of an American pilot in World War II who was one of the Tuskegee Airmen, though it’s highly unlikely the two characters are one and the same. The name The People’s Heroes comes from Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo’s The Outsiders, though none of the original team-members make this line-up.