Why Doomsday Clock's 1992 Setting is The Key

DC Comics Doomsday Clock The Death of Superman 1992

This evening, DC Comics fans got their first look at the upcoming event series, Doomsday Clock, during a panel with DC President and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns as New York Comic Con. During the panel, Johns shared the first six pages of the 12-issue series - which will have characters from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's seminal Watchmen series cross paths with the heroes of the DC Universe - offering up a strong impression of what we can expect from Doomsday Clock.

In short, Doomsday Clock has Watchmen in its bones, with Johns regularly commenting on how much he and artist Gary Frank were inspired by that original comic and that they tried to closely adhere to what he calls a "Watchmen rule book." And it's evident in just these few pages, with their nine-panel grids, heavy dialogue, much of snippets from broadcast, and a generally bleak state of the world. Though the pages shared today are in black and white, it's very easy to imagine them in Watchmen's distinct palette of pinks, purples and greens. It was recently announced that Doomsday Clock is a true sequel to Watchmen, and judging by these pages, that is very much the case.

However, Doomsday Clock is also an event deeply connected to the DC Universe and its heroes; in particular, Superman. Johns has repeatedly discussed that his intention with DC Comics' Rebirth was to restore hope to the DC Universe and no character embodies that optimism more than Superman. And if Superman represents hope and optimism and the bright ideal that Johns imagines for the DC Universe, then the opposite of that is the despair and cynicism of the world painted in Watchmen and so clearly embodied in the detached Dr. Manhattan. Throughout DC Universe Rebirth #1 and later mini-events, such as The Button, Johns and his team have teased those opposing world views, with them set to come crashing together across Doomsday Clock's 12 issues. But how?

The Countdown to Doomsday Begins

DC Comics Doomsday Clock

In the very first panel of Doomsday Clock we can see a narration bubble that reads, "November 22nd, 1992... or maybe it's the 23rd," giving an (almost) exact starting point for the story being told. From there, it's quickly established that what we're seeing are events happening in the same world inhabited by the characters of Watchmen seven years earlier. And that world is in chaos, any peace achieved by Ozymandias' insane plan from Watchmen's final issue has since rotted, and the world is now worse off than it was before. In all this, their heroes have abandoned them, their god - Dr. Manhattan - has abandoned them, and the people are left in terror. The world of Watchmen is one in desperate need of hope. So what happened?

During the New York Comic Con panel, Johns confirmed Doomsday Clock would have the answers, saying: "Everything that you read from these six pages will be explained." Meaning we'll learn how Ozymandias was exposed, we'll learn what happened with Rorschach's journal, and oh yeah, we'll learn how Rorshach isn't dead - all of this and more will be answered over the course of Doomsday Clock's 12 issues. Additionally, we can expect Johns to explain his reason for setting the start of Doomdsay Clark in 1992, a year which he also remarked is "an important year" in DC Comics history. So what happened in the DC Universe in 1992? And how might this tie in to Doomsday Clock?

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