WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Doomsday Clock #2
Doomsday Clock may have just made Alan Moore's The Killing Joke DC canon all over again. The graphic novel that provided an origin story for The Joker - or, at least one of a 'multiple choice' - had previously been leaned on to inform characters like Barbara Gordon a.k.a. Batgirl. But with the arrival of the Watchmen stars into DC's Universe, it looks like Geoff Johns and artists Gary Frank are up to even more changes.
It's hard to say for sure because the new evidence comes in the form of overt Easter Eggs in Doomsday Clock #2. Small details, sure, but in a book already dropping some major hints about The Joker, they can't be overlooked. It's also fitting that in this full-blown sequel to Alan Moore's Watchmen, DC's leading visionary is folding Moore's other major DC contribution into a new mythology... regardless of your thoughts on the idea on principle. One thing's for sure: the heroes of Watchmen are now walking through Joker's backyard in more ways than one.
By now it's safe to assume most comic fans have a working knowledge of The Killing Joke, even if they've yet to read Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's story for themselves. It's famous for two reasons. First, it explained how an upstart comedian got tricked into crime as a 'Red Hood' patsy, lost his pregnant wife, and was dunked in chemicals to become The Joker. And second, it put Barbara Gordon in a wheelchair when Joker shot her in the spine (beginning her later career as Oracle). A story detail that returned in Batgirl's Rebirth after the New 52 raised questions.
Still, individual books have had spotty records of what the writing teams consider canon, and what a larger mythology can allow. Now, thanks to the location of the Watchmen crash-landing into DC's Universe, it appears Killing Joke is here to stay (for a while, at least). Take a look for yourselves:
On the left is the amusement park as shown in The Killing Joke, a location which becomes central to the final act. On the right is the site at which Rorschach, Ozymandias, and their new recruits crash upon entering DC's reality. And even if Geoff Johns explained the similarities to CBR by saying only that "The Joker will play a part in the story. That’s all I’ll really say," it's hard to miss the obvious confirmation. The ferris wheel alone is hard to cite as evidence, but combined with the spiral tower, the 'House of Fun' seen in other panels, and even the purple elephant upon which Joker left the owner's smiling corpse, it's a match.
Rorschach and Ozymandias spend little time in the park before heading into Gotham City in search of Dr. Manhattan, but the ship remaining crashed means it's possible they will return. But the odds of Joker actually being there may be slim. Johns confirms that Joker will "play a role" but for now, the mystery of Rebirth's Three Jokers seems a more likely reference. And of course, there's also our theory on which of the original Watchmen becomes Joker before long.
For now though, the location of The Killing Joke has been confirmed to exist in the DC Universe post-Rebirth. Meaning that 'origin story' for The Joker is back in the canon... as much as it could ever be trusted, of course.
Doomsday Clock #2 is available now.