Doomsday Clock #1 Preview Takes Us Into Dark Territory Beyond Watchmen's Ending
For over thirty years, the ending of Watchmen has remained untouched. Alan Moore and David Gibbons’ story was an instant classic, with an ambiguous conclusion that left the fate of this alternate timeline in question. But at New York Comic Con, Geoff Johns revealed that Doomsday Clock is the direct sequel to Watchmen, and he also unveiled the first six pages by artist Gary Frank. in those pages, Johns and Frank tear down that world.
There’s no sign of Superman in this preview, but we do know that the Man of Steel and the rest of the DC Universe will be in play during this 12-issue miniseries. The first page doesn’t waste any time getting readers back into the Watchmen universe. It takes place six years after the original miniseries, as violent protesters storm the corporate headquarters of Adrian Veidt, a.k.a. Ozymandias. They’ve got good reason to be angry, since they know the truth about the faked other-dimensional alien invasion that Ozymandias engineered to bring the world together.
You may honestly have very mixed feelings about seeing these pages. Frank’s artwork is undeniably stunning, and it seems to capture the Watchmen vibe without mimicking Gibbons’ style. Johns’ script is also very sharply written, and this could be among his best books. But the original Watchmen was a story that never needed a sequel. It had a unique legacy in comics in part because it was a stand alone tale. There was no incoming creative team to take over from Moore and Gibbons. The story was done after 12-issues, and that was it. Doomsday Clock’s existence negates that, and gives Watchmen an even darker turn. There is something uncomfortable about that, and yet this preview is so stunning that I want to see what happens next.
These pages capture more of the feel and tone of Watchmen than any of the Before Watchmen miniseries. And some of those were really good! We can admire the nerve to even attempt a story like this. There aren’t many writers and artists who would willingly invite comparisons to Moore and Gibbons. That’s going to happen, and not everyone will view Johns and Frank favorably by comparison.
Note that the soldiers almost catch up with Ozymandias on the page above, because “the world’s smartest man” is now the world’s most wanted man. The text of the previous pages makes it clear that Rorschach's journal was recovered from the New Frontiersman magazine’s crank pile, and it was verified and confirmed. Unfortunately for the world, the Soviet Union didn’t just blame Ozymandias, it condemned the United States government as full collaborators in his crime. As for Ozymandias, that golf ball sized tumor in his head suggests that his mortality is catching up with him.
These pages also contain a lot of information about what’s happening in the post-Watchmen world, which is literally hours away from a nuclear war between the Soviets and the United States. There doesn’t seem to be any way to stop it, since Doctor Manhattan left this universe behind. The previous pages mentioned as the disappearance of both Silk Spectre and Nite Owl. Rorschach was murdered by Doctor Manhattan, but guess what? Somebody’s not quite as dead as they used to be!
The question now is whether that really is Rorschach, somehow resurrected or if there’s someone else under that mask. We guess it’s Nite Owl, since Rorschach’s costume and persona were far more intimidating than his own. Although the narration definitely reads in Rorschach's voice, so he may be the real deal after all. We’ll learn more when Doomsday Clock #1 hits on Wednesday, November 22.
Images: DC Comics