WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Doomsday Clock #11 by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Brad Anderson and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
After five years of the rebooted New 52 continuity, DC relaunched its line of titles under the DC Rebirth banner in 2016. While the New 52 had done away with much of the old continuity and streamlined all of the DC Universe's history into a more condensed whole meant to be more accessible to new readers, Rebirth brought back what so many longtime fans felt was lacking: hope. Rebirth was not just a new beginning, it was one that called back to the past of the DCU to mix in the old and the new, and it all started with the return of fan-favorite character Wally West.
After being trapped in the Speed Force for years, Wally returned, bringing with him knowledge of a past that had been forgotten by everyone. It's what ushered in this new beginning. However, Doomsday Clock #11 reveals that there was one character who was aware of this Rebirth before it even happened: Lex Luthor.
Doomsday Clock #11 is the issue that lays it all on the line. Ozymandias reveals his master plan, all the pieces are falling into place for the confrontation between Superman and Dr. Manhattan, and Lex Luthor tells Lois Lane that he knows about all of it.In the issue, the iconic Superman villain leads Lois to his secure vault where he shows her an entire collection's worth of the same picture -- the picture of Jon Osterman (the future Dr. Manhattan) and his love interest Janey Slater at the fair, as originally seen in Watchmen.
Luthor explains that all of the pictures he has collected are the exact same one -- and yet they surfaced a different times throughout history. But it's the first copy of the picture he found that is truly significant. As it turns out, Luthor found it at the spot where Wally West first emerged from the Speed Force in DC Universe Rebirth #1. Even more surprisingly, we also learn that Luthor was actually hiding behind the bushes when Wally and Barry Allen first reunited.
Luthor explains his presence at the location by revealing that he has been tracking strange anomalies ever since he was young. He says that two years prior to the events of Doomsday Clock, he began tracking abnormal chronal energy spikes which were increasing not only in strength but also in amount. Knowing this, Luthor was able to deduce that something, or someone, was trying to come into this universe.
Tracking this energy led him to the spot where Barry saved Wally from the Speed Force at the start of DC Rebirth. There, he learned that someone else had been messing with the fabric of time. However, Wally was not the source of the anomaly he was tracking, and his search continued after finding the very first copy of the photograph of Jon and Janey.
While he didn't know it at the time, Luthor was actually tracking Dr. Manhattan, even before the events of DC Universe Rebirth #1. The Superman villain has always used his vast intellect and wealth to be ahead of the curve, and now he has proven it once more. The Rebirth of the DCU and the machinations of Dr. Manhattan were something of a surprise to both readers and the characters of the universe, but Luthor was the only one smart enough to figure it out before anyone else.
While he didn't have the whole picture, he still knows more than almost anyone. If Luthor has proven anything in this issue, it's that he is the DC Universe's closest equivalent to the Watchmen's Ozymandias. If the two end up meeting in Doomsday Clock's concluding chapter, Luthor may be the only one who can defeat Adrian Veidt before the Doomsday Clock reaches midnight.