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.
There’s a lot going on in Doomsday Clock, so much so that it can be hard to keep up. With the series set one year in the future of the current DC Universe, there are obviously some changes that have taken place in the intervening time. But although we’ve only seen glimpses of mainstays like Superman, Lex Luthor and Batman, it’s obvious that the DC Universe of Doomsday Clock is a very different place to the one we’re familiar with.
Against that backdrop, we’ve got the ongoing story of the Watchmen characters transported across dimensional boundaries; with Ozymandias and Rorschach split up but continuing in their search for Doctor Manhattan, Marionette and The Mime let loose in Gotham City and the wildcard that is the resurrected Comedian.
However, the stories of the Watchmen characters are only really made interesting in how they play off the events happening in the DC Universe. At times, it seems like the story wants to be more about the DC heroes and their struggles than anything else. In fact, you could go so far as to say that Doomsday Clock would be a better and more interesting story if it focused on the heroes and villains of the DC Universe... and had nothing to do with Watchmen at all.
One Year Later
The world of Doomsday Clock is reminiscent of the DC Universe immediately following Infinite Crisis, where the entire publishing line jumped one year into the future under the “One Year Later” banner. Immediately, fans were faced with a powerless Superman, a reinvigorated Batman and a secret agent Wonder Woman, while the effects of Infinite Crisis played out throughout the line. Bart Allen was the new Flash, Holly Robinson was the new Catwoman and Jaime Reyes was the new Blue Beetle. The Teen Titans went through a year-long roster shake-up as Robin and Wonder Girl struggled to cope with the death of Superboy, and many heroes were still missing following the events of the Rann-Thanagar War.
Ostensibly, the weekly series 52 was supposed to answer a lot of the questions posed by One Year Later, although whether it was successful in that is up for debate. (Most of the dangling plot threads were hastily tied-up in the four-issue World War III miniseries, where all four issues were released one the same day.) However, that doesn’t change the excitement created by the One Year Later initiative and it seems that in some ways Doomsday Clock has taken that idea and inverted it. One Year Later was, one the whole, a very optimistic time in the DC Universe as the heroes looked forward to a brighter tomorrow.
Over a decade later, the time-jump in Doomsday Clock is much more pessimistic with superhero conspiracy theories running rampant and a metahuman arms race threatening to ignite a new Cold War. We’ve already seen some small steps towards this new world in titles such as Detective Comics, when The Victim Syndicate revealed Clayface’s role in the Gotham Knights, but in a year’s time, it seems that the DC Universe is going to be a much less friendly and much more hostile place for superheroes.