Superman’s actions don’t just affect American/Russian relations, although that’s an important theme which harkens back to Watchmen, it draws a line in the sand between metahuman and baseline human in a way that DC never really has before. If anything, it’s more reminiscent of how Marvel treats the line between mutant and flatscan human, and how many humans are scared of their eventual replacement and subjugation at the hands of their super-powered cousins. “What if Superman decided he knew best” is well trod ground from the Injustice games to Ultraman of Earth-3 to analogous characters such as The Plutonian in Irredeemable and Marvel’s King Hyperion.
It’s an expectation that Superman has had to deal with for as long as he’s operated as a superhero, and while his intentions were not what the papers are making them out to be, it’s going to be hard to win back the trust of the general public after he’s been seen defending a seemingly rogue metahuman suspected of being involved in the grand superhuman conspiracy. Superman needs to be seen as impartial and infallible for the people to trust him; that’s why Siegel and Shuster’s unapologetically socialist Superman of the Golden Age could never last. Superman isn’t one to take sides, and whoever is pulling his strings is doing an excellent job of making him do so in the worst possible way.
Then there is the Russia of it all, as whoever has been stoking The Supermen Theory — whether it’s true or not — has been doing so to set up America as the evil boogeymen of the metahuman world, secretly working to get an advantage over everyone else and concoting outlandish explanations as to how these fantastical beings got their powers. The fact that it’s reminiscent of the global tensions of Watchmen isn’t a coincidence; in Watchmen, Ozymandias manipulates the world into getting along by dropping a psychic squid on Manhattan, killing thousands but uniting the world against an alien threat.
The last few panels of Doomsday Clock #8 show Ozymandias watching the events in Russia and commenting that “it begins” which raises larger questions about what Adrien Veidt’s true motives are. He journeyed to the DC Universe to bring back Doctor Manhattan to fix his own world, so why is he so interested in the events of this one? Is he manipulating everything, or as The World’s Smartest Man, does he see the shape of the plan put in place by whoever concocted The Supermen Theory? The bright blue light at the end of the issue certainly brings to mind that of Doctor Manhattan; has he been hiding out as Firestorm? Their powers really are awfully similar, if you get into the nuts and bolts of it.
Doomsday Clock #8 brings the mystery at the corners of the DC Universe to the center stage for the first time and raises all these questions and more. The series is at its most exciting and energetic when it focuses on the DC heroes and the parallels to Watchmen over the Watchmen characters themselves, and while the first half of the series focused on how the DCU affected the Watchmen characters, the introduction of Superman suggests that the remainder of the series will show the effects of the Watchmen universe has on the DC Universe and how the two worlds are ultimately incompatible.