SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Doomsday Clock #8 by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Brad Anderson and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
Superman may be from Krypton, and he may be a superhero for the whole world, but when it comes the DC Universe, there are few superheroes more intrinsically tied to America and what the country is supposed to stand for than the Man of Tomorrow. After all, it’s right there in the catchphrase: “Truth, justice and the American way.” Whether he wants to be recognized as such or not, Superman represents the United States of America on a global scale, and a lot of the time, that can be a great thing. As a refugee who was welcomed and embraced by his adopted homeland, he grew up to represent all the positive aspects of American culture and of the American people.
However, this also makes him uniquely vulnerable to manipulation which can reflect badly on his home country when he chooses to operate on that global scale, and though not appointed by an administrative body, Superman’s actions can be seen as those of America in times of conflict as much as in times of peace. That’s exactly the situation the hero finds himself in as the machinations of Ozymandias ensnare the Man of Steel and the mystery of The Supermen Theory turns deadly, with Superman right at the heart of an international incident which threatens to bring the biggest threat of the Watchmen universe to the doorstep of the heroes of the DCU.
One of the biggest mysteries at the heart of Doomsday Clock is The Supermen Theory, which posits that the reason America has ninety percent of the world’s superhumans is due to a government conspiracy to win a superpowered arms race before the rest of the world even knew that it was taking place. Classic, fan-favorite characters like Metamorpho and Firestorm have been found to be at the heart of this conspiracy, and it’s these claims that bring The Nuclear Man to Moscow to face his enemy Pozhar, leader of The People’s Heroes, who has been one of the biggest proponents of The Supermen Theory.
When the young hero makes a major mistake and turns a crowd of citizens to glass, it’s Superman who intervenes to give him the inspiration he needs to fix it, finding Ronnie Raymond hiding in Kahndaq which Black Adam has opened up to all metahumans as a safe haven. Superman and Firestorm return to Russia to make amends and fix Ronnie’s mistake, but tensions flare and Superman is forced to take a stand against the Russian military to stop their tanks from shattering the temporarily frozen citizens. However, the complexities of the action are lost on the world’s media who see Superman as siding with the metahuman community over world governments, which is kind of a worst case scenario for those in power.