DC's Doomsday Clock may go down in history as one of the most interesting, and ultimately disappointing comic series in recent memory. Seen as a pseudo-sequel to Watchmen, the limited series from writer Geoff Johns sought to bring Alan Moore's famous team into DC's main universe. And while many were rightfully skeptical of the idea, the imaginations of fans around the globe went wild, due in no small part to Johns's own conviction to have this story told.
As the final issue looms ever closer, and with HBO's Watchmen TV series garnering more attention from fans, the question must be asked. After taking two years to release 12 issue of a book supposedly set a year in the future... will Doomsday Clock's final chapter even matter to the DC Universe anymore?
What began as a famed sequel to one of DC's greatest books was seen at the time as a truly monumental project. Delivering comic action written by DC's de facto leader Geoff Johns, colored by Brad Anderson, and illustrated by one of the greats, Gary Frank. The 12-issue series is undeniably one of the most ambitious comic titles in the last few years, serving as a bridge between the Watchmen story to both its own post-Minutemen future and the DC Universe to which Geoff Johns has contributed so much.
A myriad of clever references and new inventions made the first few issues of this story remarkably intriguing, as the artists used the modern day political setting to help set the stage for their tale. A new Rorschach appeared, Ozymandias was somehow still alive, the government created their own "Supermen," and Doctor Manhattan was theorized to have created the entire DC Universe.
The implications behind all of these narrative threads being thrust into the DC Universe was huge. By setting the story one year in the future, countless readers wondered what consequences the story could have on DC's entire lineup. The answer is disappointingly simple: it likely won't have any consequences. Time has passed and the DC Universe has moved on. Tom King will be tackling a Batman/Catwoman series while James Tynion takes the reins of Batman. Brian Michael Bendis has been making his own mark on the Superman story, while Scott Snyder has been working wonders on Justice League. Would DC really interrupt any of these stories by forcing them to connect to, or rationalize decisions made by the ending of Doomsday Clock?
A cohesive continuity is certainly appealing, but let's not forget that it was one of the many problems that led to the demise of the New 52. Writers and artists are less able to make their own original stories when they must deal with the consequences of another. Arguably, the most important of these conspiracies is the "Supermen Theory"--the belief that the US Government had created most if not all of the metahumans within its territories. This was proven true, to an extent, but not to a degree that would severely alter current continuity. Were that to suddenly become canon in DC's landscape, the ramifications would reach into every other superhero story. Creating turmoil for governments and superheroes, while sending the world into political upheaval. An interesting story, but one that DC shouldn't force its other books to tell.
While some stories are struggling, most of DC is flourishing with originality, as some of the most important names in comics are taking on some of comics' most important characters. To suddenly force universe-wide changes on these titles would be a disservice to the talented creatives behind them--and a disservice to the fans reading them.
Time, a lot of time, has passed since Doomsday Clock premiered in 2017. Whatever reasons may explain that, the series has squandered much of its momentum and lost most of its mysterious luster. What started with exciting mass conspiracies about fabricated metahumans and universe-converging plots has slowly faded to irrelevance. The penultimate issue ended with the confrontation fans have been waiting for: Dr. Manhattan face-to-face with Superman. An encounter almost impossible to imagine, in and of itself.
The outcome of their "fight" will likely be tense, dramatic, gorgeous, and incredibly entertaining. But will it matter beyond this issue, this story, or this vision of DC's characters from Johns, Frank, and Anderson? Probably not. And most importantly, DC must know that it shouldn't.
Doomsday Clock #12 is set to release sometime before the end of the year.