This week's Doomsday Clock #2 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank had plenty of subtext and echoes of the original Watchmen.
There were some obvious moments worth noticing, like the Rorchach test being administered to Bruce Wayne (like the one given to Walter Kovacs in Watchmen), pancakes being eaten by Rorschach in both issue #1 and #2, or that juxtapositions of panels indicated the ink blots reminded Bruce Wayne of various secrets he carries.
But there were a few other things that might have been less obvious to some readers. What follows are some of the more subtle things we noticed about Doomsday Clock #2 that might have flown under the radar - as well as some moments worth further consideration and conjecture. Feel free to add any you noticed in the comments below:
When Adrian Veidt and the new version of Rorschach arrive at the Gotham City Public Library, there are three busts above the door to the building: Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and Vladimir Mayakovsky. Adrian mentions their names, then Rorschach says the three authors "had something in common."
That "something" they had in common is suicide.
This subtext is probably connected to the story somehow. Perhaps their suicide represents the idea of losing "hope" - the concept that lies at the center of the Watchmen vs. DCU conflict?
Or maybe it's a reference to the humans who are killing their own world with nuclear weapons?
Or maybe Rorschach is referring to Adrian himself, something Rorschach mentions later when he says that Adrian is being is pulled "toward rocks." Or perhaps Rorschach's mention of the authors' suicide is his way of pointing out that Ozymandias' actions have ended up killing exactly what he was trying to revive.
Adrian tells Rorschach that the DCU is more advanced in some ways and less advanced in others. Readers of Watchmen will remember that the existence of Dr. Manhattan accelerated their technology, but the original miniseries was set in 1985 as opposed to our more progressed 2017.
And inside the library, as Adrian is doing research on the DCU, he also mentions that the DCU has more "men and women wearing masks," and that some of them are even fictional heroes in the world of Watchmen. This refers to the fact that DC Comics existed there, according to bonus materials in Watchmen.
When Rorschach and Adrian are walking through the streets of Gotham City, the television that Rorschach notices through a shop window is tuned to a channel that's advertising a film marathon of Nathaniel Dusk movies.
Nathaniel Dusk is the name of a detective character who was featured in a two-issue DC mini-series in the mid-1980s.
And although the film company's logo looks like it might be Warner Brothers, it's actually the "VB" logo used by Verner Brothers Studios, the employer of the DC character Blue Devil (once a member of Shadowpact).
Jacques Tourneur is a real-world film director, known for classic film noir movies. There's probably a reason Johns chose him for this Rorschach scene - if only just because of the character's trenchcoat being a staple of film noir. And the film's title, The Adjournment, could echo the manner in which the Watchmen characters just adjourned from their own world. That said, the actor's name, Carver Colman, didn't ring any bells for us (comment below if you got a reference we missed).
The painting that Adrian admires in Lex's office is "Jacob Wrestling with the Angel" by Léon Bonnat. The story depicted in the painting is the biblical narrative from the book of Genesis about Jacob battling an angel to obtain a blessing. Jacob ends up being renamed Israel and becoming the father of the Jewish people. The scene is also often called "Jacob wrestling with God."
So what does it symbolize in the story? Only Johns knows for sure, but perhaps the painting references the idea of Lex versus Superman - his ongoing war with a "god" on earth? Or maybe it even represents Ozymandias versus Dr. Manhattan. After all, Adrian has already called Jon a "god" in this series.
As Dr. Manhattan was about to kill Mime, Marionette jumped in front of her husband to stop the slaughter. Jon stopped at the sight of the woman, and it appeared at first that he was checking her out.
Maybe it's the current-day environment, but our first knee-jerk reaction when Jon decided not to kill Marionette was that he stopped because of the way she looked.
Wrong. The next few panels revealed a completely different reason.
Jon didn't kill her because he could tell she was pregnant. A blue thought caption as Jon looked at her mid-section even spelled it out: "Babum."
So Marionette was pregnant when she was captured and imprisoned. The child that was taken from Marionette and Mime was born in prison, and - as we found out in the first issue - they're only cooperating with Adrian to find out where their child is.
Adrian thinks it's important that Jon didn't want to hurt Marionette's unborn child 0 so important that he brings her along to the DCU. He tells Rorschach that Marionette "represents a moment in Jon's past … one that I can use to remind him of who he was."
A glimmer of humanity (or "hope") within Jon's mind, perhaps?
OK, can we just stop here and say…why were people in the bank afraid of Mime's finger? It wasn't a gun. And Rorschach called his pointed finger an "imaginary gun" in the first issue of Doomsday Clock.
Yet the "lock pick" Mime had in his hand was invisible too. And he was able to pick the lock on the handcuffs.
Maybe this crazy Mime isn't so crazy after all, and his imaginary tools aren't quite so imaginary?
And while we're on the subject of Mime, the panel where he held up his imaginary lock pick, with a wide smile on his face, kind of reminds us of the Joker.
Maybe that Doomsday Clock #5 variant cover featuring the Joker wasn't the Joker at all, but the Mime doing an interpretation?
Another clue that it's actually Mime: In issue #2, both Mime and Marionette were given a Nostalgia make-up kit, and the Joker on the cover is holding a Nostalgia compact and putting on lipstick.
And if Mime is a version of the Joker, that would of course make the Marionette Harley Quinn.
As we linked in our spoiler story for issue #2, the idea of Dr. Manhattan glowing blue because of "leaking electrons" isn't exactly a new idea, although it was not part of the original Watchmen story.
Dr. Manhattan's color in the original Watchmen was mostly likely just an aesthetic choice of the creative team, but James Kakalios, a physics professor from the University of Minnesota who served as science consultant on the Watchmen film, came up with a scientific explanation for the color.
During the making of the film, Kakalios shared his theory with filmmakers (and with Newsarama readers back in 2009). And now, Johns is making this same idea canon.
"I talked to the special effect people about why Dr. Manhattan might be blue, because there's a physics reason for it … There's a phenomena called Cerenkov radiation," Kakalois explained to Newsarama. "And if he's leaking high-energy electrons, he would create a blue glow around him. And presumably, if he'd change the velocity of the electrons, he'd even change how dark a blue he was, like he does in the TV studio in the book."
"Because he had to rebuild himself atom by atom, he's presumably got all sorts of spare electrons flying off, giving him a blue glow … And those high speed electrons also are emitted from certain nuclear isotopes when they undergo radioactive decay. And in particular, I say Strontium-90," he continued. "So if you were to expose someone to a radioactive material in the attempt to try to give them cancer, and you wanted to blame it on the radiation that was emitted from Dr. Manhattan, this is actually a physically consistent way in which you might go about doing it. You would use Strontium-90, and one of the characteristics is these high speed electrons, called beta rays, and Dr. Manhattan is constantly leaking high-speed electrons, which is why he's glowing blue. So he does have kind of a radioactive signature that you could associate with him."
So it looks like this radioactive signature is what Adrian followed to the DCU.
Who Watches the DCU?
In Doomsday Clock #2's Gotham City scene, protestors in the DCU sure looked a lot like the demonstrators who populated the world of Watchmen. But this time around, they're angry about the presence of Batman.
It's important to remember that this is the DCU readers will encounter one year in the future from present-day comic books. So the angry protestors are in the DCU future.
The dialogue between Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox offers some clues about what angered the demonstrators. "The world's gone upside down because of the Supermen theory," Lucius says. "It may have started with Rex Mason and Kirk Langstrom, but now the mob is after you."
Back-up material in issue #2 includes a Bulletin news publication, viewed on a Gotham City Library computer screen (echoing the fact-finding trip to the library by Ozymandias and Rorschach in the issue's story), using a browser called "LexNet."
One article in the Bulletin indicates that the Supermen Theory came from a Markovian geneticist named Dr. Helga Jace. It posits that the previously unexplained concentration of superpowered humans in the United States can be linked to efforts by the U.S. government to create and control metahumans.
Proof of this theory came in the form of origin stories for both Metamorpho (Rex Mason) and Man-Bat (Kirk Langstrom). When their accidents gave them superpowers, both heroes were working for companies that had government contracts, supporting the speculation that the government is involved.
In another story, the Bulletin reports allegations that LexCorp has stolen metagene research from Wayne Enterprises. And there have been moves by both companies to purchase entities that were formerly associated with superheroes (including Blue Beetle-associated Kord Industries and Metamorpho's former employer, Stagg Industries).
A third article features a war of words between Superman and Lex Luthor about the revelations of the Supermen Theory. While Superman encouraged the public to resist fear and paranoia, Lex is supporting the anti-metahuman stance, encouraging business owners to denounce them and insist they unmask.
All this said, why did Bruce Wayne say this has something to do with Russia? No idea, but the paranoid "anti-fascist" protestors echo current real-world protests, so maybe the idea of Russia manipulating the public's perception of the U.S. government is also a nod to real-world issues.
But the DC developments definitely echo the story of Watchmen, where masked vigilantes were so feared that the government passed the Keene Act, requiring superhumans to be employed and known by the government.
Adrian's genetically engineered, red-colored lynx has been featured in Doomsday Clock since issue #1. However, during Watchmen, Adrian's red-colored pet lynx Bubastis was destroyed within an intrinsic field chamber with Dr. Manhattan.
So it's probably safe to assume the Doomsday Clock cat is some type of descendant or clone. Right?
Then again, in Doomsday Clock #2, Adrian says his cat is the "compass," with no explanation. Is this clone cat genetically engineered to detect Dr. Manhattan? Or is there another reason?
This might be a little far-fetched, but maybe the new cat isn't a clone. After the event that destroyed Bubastis, Dr. Manhattan was able to reassemble his body. He was allegedly assisted in this difficult task by his training as a watchmaker. Is it possible that Bubastis was also able to reassemble her body - or perhaps Adrian found a way to do so - and maybe she returned for Doomsday Clock? If she experienced the chamber with Dr. Manhattan, could there be some type of comic book science that makes her able to sense his location?
We're definitely reaching for straws here and this probably isn't the same lynx at all. After all, she isn't glowing blue. Still, the compass mention got us thinking…
The Doomsday Clock version of Rorschach drops the name "Kovacs" toward the end of the issue - Walter Kovacs being the former Rorschach who was killed in Watchmen.
That name mention probably isn't important, but an earlier name is. When Adrian is reviving the new Rorschach after their journey to the DCU, a name is shouted: "Reggie."
It occurs after a still-groggy Rorscach says he's going to kill Adrian. In reply, Adrian says: "No, no, we made an agreement. Remember … Reggie …"
So either Reggie is the name of the new Rorschach, or Reggie is someone he cares about. If the latter is true, Reggie might be the reason this Rorschach "made an agreement" with Ozymandias in the first place.