Strap yourselves in, DC Comics fans: the Doomsday Clock is ticking down to the truth of DC's Rebirth/Watchmen bombshells completely revealed. After DC's Rebirth began with the revelation that Dr. Manhattan was pulling the strings behind the scenes of the New 52 Universe, fans knew that Ge0ff Johns was setting DC's heroes up for one heck of a fall. The other shoe will be dropping with Doomsday Clock explaining why Dr. Manhattan continues to kill DC icons, and at San Diego Comic-Con, Johns dropped several hints at the shocking cameos, conflicts, and Watchmen stars that will forever change the nature of the DC Universe.
During a spotlight panel focused on Johns's career, DC co-publisher Dan DiDio decided to draw out some details concerning Doomsday Clock in a less than conventional manner. For fans, it meant more than half a dozen images from the first issue brought to life by artists Gary Frank and Brad Anderson - images that have thankfully now been officially released by DC. The art goes hand in hand with Johns's secretive story, which he thankfully teased through a handful of details, reveals, and hints at the plot, conflict, and main characters of Doomsday Clock.
Johns explained that as mysterious as it may be now, readers will know exactly what the story of Doomsday Clock will be concerned with "from the first page." Apparently that begins with the very first panel, revealed to be a familiar image from the Watchmen world - with a twist: the infamous "The End is Nigh" sign carried by Rorschach (in street clothes) in Alan Moore's original Watchmen. But with the sign now reading "The End is Here," the tragedies that occur in the series - set one year ahead of DC's current continuity - may be bigger than your typical limited series.
The mysteries spin out from there, with the next panel depicting a woman's face concealed by shadow. But before comic fans begin to debate who this mystery woman may be, Johns did state: "I'll just say that's a new character... and she's in a prison cell." When the following panel showed a hole torn in a prison's chain link fence, Johns clarified that "... maybe she's not in a prison cell." The fact that the woman isn't an existing character helps rule out the idea that it's Rebirth's Saturn Girl of the Legion of Superheroes, while the traditional prison rules out her incarceration at the hands of the equally mysterious Mr. Oz.
The most intriguing panel may be the one depicting a stopped car absent of any human figures. Johns teased that, knowing the context and story surrounding the scene, Gary Frank's art and Brad Anderson's colors are telling the story every bit as much as the script: "Right here: the angle, the car's still running, you see the smoke, you see the manhole cover slightly open, you see the files that spilled out of the car. Whoever left that car left in an awful hurry and didn't bother to take the keys."
The other two teases range from potentially massively intriguing to somewhat expected (but nonetheless exciting). The shot of the Daily Planet globe confirms that the story will begin in Superman's backyard. When asked if the story would include Superman, Johns went a step further, clarifying that "Superman IS the story." With the other photo showing an X-ray and a bright spot in the patient's skull... Johns wouldn't go any further than clarifying that someone is ill. No idea exactly who, but with a hero who's gifted with the ability so see in X-ray vision, anyone is possible.
The biggest reveal, at least for those who are prone to conspiracy theories and speculation, came in the panel's final minutes. According to Johns, he had cleared one spoiler-y bit of a tease with Gary Frank's approval. While it's still not officially announced that Batman, let alone the entire Justice League will be making the leap into Watchmen/Manhattan madness along with Superman, Johns revealed one other major DC Comics character who will get a peak behind the curtain: Lex Luthor.
"I love seeing the smartest man from one world talk to the smartest man from another. And the smartest man from [DC's] world is Lex Luthor... and that's all I'll say."
And with that, Johns confirmed that Doomsday Clock will be, in one way or another, a story of parallel worlds mixing characters and conflicts. How a story with Superman at its heart will pull Lex Luthor into the story is something the writer is keeping close to his chest, but if the "other worlds" in his sentence is the reference to the Watchmen continuity it appears to be, Adrian Veidt a.k.a. Ozymandias seems the obvious candidate.
The question then becomes: if Lex Luthor is still a heroic-leaning character in Rebirth, and Dr. Manhattan is the antagonist... will the heroes of the DCU be teaming up with Adrian Veidt against him? That's a question we don't expect to see answered any time soon.
Doomsday Clock begins on November 23, 2017.