When "Rebirth" launched in May 2016, DC Comics said that it would take two years to fully resolve the mysteries introduced in DC Universe: Rebirth #1.
With November 2017's Doomsday Clock, the highly anticipated 12-issue series from "Rebirth" architect Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank, that story is expected to reach its climax and conclusion.
So far, readers have gotten several hints about what's coming in Doomsday Clock, as well as a few out-and-out spoilers. Newsarama has gathered a few of our expectations together along with the reasons why we think these things will show up in Doomsday Clock.
Ozymandias, Manhattan and Rorschach
The only character from Watchmen that has been confirmed by DC to participate in Doomsday Clock is Doctor Manhattan - who's been positioned as the main antagonist since he was revealed 15 months ago - but there have been very strong hints about two other characters from the acclaimed series playing a role.
Although it's looking less and less like the mysterious Mr. Oz (the character who's been watching the DCU for the last couple years) is Ozymandias, Johns strongly hinted that Ozymandias would be seen across from at least one DC character in Doomsday Clock.
During a panel at Comic-Con International: San Diego, Johns said his favorite interaction in the event series is "seeing the smartest man from one world meeting the smartest man from another - and the smartest man in the DC Universe is Lex Luthor." As Newsarama noted at the time, Johns stopped just short of saying Ozymandias, but he heavily implied it.
And this week, DC released the lenticular cover for Doomsday Clock #1, revealing an image featuring the Rorshach's inkblots transforming into the logos for Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman.
Although Rorschach died in the pages of Watchmen, Johns has stated that his "Rebirth" story is not a Watchmen sequel, meaning Doomsday Clock doesn't necessarily take place after Rorschach's death.
There may be other Watchmen characters involved in Doomsday Clock, but stories and hints have only pointed toward those three: Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias, and Rorschach.
A Jump Forward
The first issue of Doomsday Clock will take place in the future of the DCU, according to Johns.
In fact, it's the future that the rest of the DC will reach 12 months later - meaning the events that take place in other DC titles during that year will be leading up to Doomsday Clock #1.
When the final issue of Doomsday Clock is released (in fall 2018, if the series stays on schedule), the DC Universe will be caught up to the story's timeline.
Everything about Doomsday Clock has been pointing toward Watchmen - bright yellow font, the cover designs, the copy…
It's a theme started during DC Universe: Rebirth #1, the one-shot that introduced the idea of Dr. Manhattan entering the DCU with images and quotes from Watchmen. Readers have seen plenty of hints about other Watchmen iconography since - particularly the bloody smiley face button that showed up again in the "Button" crossover earlier this year.
"New 52" Retcon
'Retcon' might be strong word, but DC has already provided a lot of new information about the "New 52"'s launch that changed the entire universe's story - from the still-unexplained Superman split depicted in "Superman Reborn" that completely altered that character's "New 52" history, to the claim by Wally West that Barry didn't cause the "New 52" in the first place.
With Doomsday Clock, it's probable that many, many more stories and characters from DC's "New 52" era will either disappear or get a revamp - and as we're about to explain, we expect some characters and concepts who were wiped out by the "New 52" to get new life.
When Dark Nights: Metal writer Scott Snyder was asked by Newsarama about whether he'd be addressing the "three Jokers" revelation from the end of the "New 52" Justice League, the writer said that was Johns' story to tell.
"He's got a million things that he's doing that are incredibly important and amazing for DC," Snyder said. "He has a big story he's going to tell. But it's his story."
Some of the mysteries Johns set up in DC Universe: Rebirth are being answered in other series - such as the Atom search in Justice League of America and the brother of Wonder Woman in her title - so it's possible the Batman title will address the three Jokers mystery, but given what Snyder told Newsarama we'd expect that the three Jokers is a story we'll see addressed in Doomsday Clock.
Return of the Justice Society
Teased several times in both DC Universe: Rebirth and "The Button" crossover that followed - as well as in The Flash - the return of the Justice Society of America seems to be an almost guaranteed result of the events in Doomsday Clock.
Or maybe we just hope it is.
But speaking of hope - an emotion that plays a key role in Doomsday Clock (more on that in a minute) - Jay Garrick of the Justice Society was equated with "hope" when he showed up briefly in past issues.
"I don't know what it was but… it filled me with hope," Barry said when he saw Jay's helmet.
So if Doomsday Clock is big on hope, and Jay Garrick and the JSA are all about hope, then surely they'll play a role. Right?
DC teased the return of the JSA in their early "Rebirth" promos as well. On the back cover of a 2016 "Rebirth" catalog in May 2016, DC shared an image with two hourglasses - one featuring characters from the Justice Society of America and the other including characters from an '80s-style Justice League of America.
The in-story teases about the Justice Society have also implied they're trapped in a similar way to Wally West, who was missing from the DCU during the "New 52." And Johns orchestrated that character's return as part of his "Rebirth" story.
Plus, as long-time Geoff Johns fans know, the writer has a pretty extensive history with the JSA, just like he had with Wally West before he brought that character back into the fold.
Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but the return of Wally West and the expected return of the JSA points toward the possibility that other characters missing from the DCU might turn up as well.
The possibilities are endless, but the fact that Wally and the JSA are characters that Johns has frequently said are among his favorites makes us wonder about two specific characters Johns has written in the past: Superboy Conner Kent and Kid Flash Bart Allen. (In fact, both characters have been revived by Johns before.)
There's actually been no hint that these two specific characters are returning - save, maybe, the speculation that they're the two shadowy figures behind cell doors in Mr. Oz's prison - but it's certainly something within the realm of possibility in Doomsday Clock.
And if not them, there are others…
Long Live the Legion
As long as we're on the subject of characters that Johns favors - and concepts that are missing from the DCU - the Legion of Super-Heroes have also been teased in scenes surrounding "Rebirth" mysteries.
In DC Universe Rebirth #1, a character from the Legion of Super-Heroes appeared to be lost in Gotham City. Saturn Girl showed up again in Batman #9 and "The Button," imprisoned in Arkham Asylum and rambling about how "they" are going to "kill him" - and "our friends will die" and "the Legion will die."
There's been no indication that DC is going to bring back the Legion of Super-Heroes (not like there have been for the JSA), but the appearance of Saturn Girl and her association with other "Rebirth" stories indicates the Legion of Super-Heroes will probably play a part in Doomsday Clock.
Besides, if Doomsday Clock is really about the world counting down to its end, then what better hope for the future than the story of the Legion?
Optimism Versus Cynicism
Speaking of hope, Johns has frequently talked about how "Rebirth" is about bringing hope back into the DCU.
“It felt like there were things that had gone missing - not the characters but an overall feeling of hope and optimism,” Johns said when DC Universe: Rebirth #1 was published. “There’s a sense of warmth and emotion to this universe beyond the big epic threats and continuity stuff.”
But although Johns explored the idea of hope overcoming fear in 2005's Green Lantern: Rebirth, Johns usually describes the opposition in Doomsday Clock as "cynicism," "despair" and "pessimism."
“If you’re going to have a conflict between optimism and pessimism, you need to have someone who represents a cynical view of life and also has the ability to affect this," said Johns of Dr. Manhattan's use as antagonist. "I know it’s crazy but he felt like the right character to use.”
Although some Johns fans have wondered if there might be an appearance by the Blue Lanterns Corps (the space-based team whose powers are fueled by hope - a concept invented by Johns and artist Ethan Van Sciver a decade ago), the hints readers have gotten over the last year-and-a-half point toward Superman as the key bearer of hope.
This has been particularly highlighted in the storyline involving the mysterious Mr. Oz, whose "New 52" era appearances talked about Superman being a "symbol of hope" and whose revelations in upcoming stories will rob Superman of his "sense of hope for humanity."
Even Wally West, when he first introduced the possibility that Dr. Manhattan was meddling with the DCU, said "there's going to be a war between hope and despair … love and apathy … faith and disbelief."