Warning: SPOILERS for Doomsday Clock #11
It's taken longer than anyone expected, but the entire mystery of DC's Rebirth has finally been solved by the one man who knew reality had changed before anyone else. Not a hero, but a supervillain: Lex Luthor.
Part of the reason fans have waited so long for answers is due to the delays in DC's Doomsday Clock series, the epic which writer Geoff Johns promised would be the true payoff to the Rebirth mystery. The tease of Dr. Manhattan's role in rebooting the DC Universe? The question of how and why he changed what he did? The evidence Batman and Flash have searched for ever since? Lex Luthor uncovered it all, following the clues which ultimately led him to break the case wide open... the night Wally West returned to DC's Universe.
The story is offered up by Lex Luthor to Lois Lane--as far as the reader knows, the first person he has shared his findings with in full. According to Lex, he had been investigating energy spikes for some time prior to the official Rebirth began, suspecting that someone or something was trying to break into the universe from outside of it. Luthor's investigation led him to one such location just in time to see Wally West return from the Speed Force and be restored by Barry Allen (as seen in DC Universe: Rebirth).
Lex clarifies that it wasn't Wally he had been detecting, despite the former Kid Flash's many attempts to reconstitute himself from the Speed Force. But Wally offers up one new clue, claiming he sensed a figure reshaping reality--a figure readers eventually learned was Dr. Manhattan from the Watchmen reality. With his suspicions confirmed, Lex found the single clue that broke his investigation: a photograph of a man and woman, taken at a fair in 1959. Readers will instantly recognize the photo as Jon Osterman's from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen, held as a token of the past by Dr. Manhattan.
The photo has taken on new life in Doomsday Clock, as Dr. Manhattan has unknowingly been replicating the photo at each location and time he has observed the DC Universe throughout its history. It boggles the mind to consider how Lex Luthor did it, but from that first night that DC's Rebirth began Lex has been gathering copies of the photo, each deposited in identical form. Together, they have slowly formed a clear line showing how Dr. Manhattan has traveled the DC Universe, reshaping it along the way. Which should put to rest any questions about Lex Luthor being DC's smartest man--permanently.
Lex Luthor has yet to reveal the next step of his plan (and you know he has one) but as readers know, finding out the facts of this DC Rebirth mystery is the first step. And given the ego which led Dr. Manhattan to reshape the history of Superman and the world with him, there's no chance he sees Lex Luthor coming. As Lex noted to Lois, the photos being dropped like breadcrumbs is something Dr. Manhattan is probably not even aware of. He may have deduced that the Watchmen star is a being of endless power... but that's a challenge to Lex Luthor, if anything. Here's hoping the last issue of Doomsday Clock finally lets him get a step ahead.
Doomsday Clock #11 is available now at your local comic book shop, or direct from DC Comics. Doomsday Clock #12 is still without release date.