Although January 3's Doomsday Clock #2 dropped a few hints about Doctor Manhattan's whereabouts in the DCU, the issue also featured a theory (shared between Adrian Veidt and the new Rorschach) that Jon Osterman actually created the characters in the DCU.
There's certainly credence to the conjecture that Doctor Manhattan might have created all characters in the DCU - and wow, what a retcon that would be - but it's also possible that, after the end of Watchmen, a few characters were planted by Jon into the DCU.
While the possibilities for Manhattan plants are almost endless, there actually is real-life a connection between some characters in the DCU and the character of Watchmen that might will probably come into play in Geoff Johns' and Gary Frank's Doomsday Clock story.
Specifically, as many fans of Watchmen know, Alan Moore originally formulated the story around the old Charlton Comics characters that DC had purchased. But that plan changed when the nature of Moore's story was realized, so Moore created new characters, but retained much of the inspiration he originally drew from the Charlton heroes.
Johns has already admitted that two of his new characters from the Watchmen world - Mime and Marionette, whom debuted in Doomsday Clock #1 - are meant to resemble Punch and Jewelee from the DCU.
So there's no doubt that Johns is aware of this connection between the two worlds and means to highlight it in Doomsday Clock.
This line of thinking got us wondering - where are all the old Charlton Comics characters who inspired the world of Watchmen? So what follows is our attempt to draw a line between the Watchmen characters and the DC heroes they were based upon, then figure out what those characters have been up to lately.
Doctor Manhattan - Captain Atom
Moore has stated that Watchmen's Doctor Manhattan was based on Captain Atom, and the characters' origin stories are very similar.
At the end of Watchmen, Doctor Manhattan said that he was leaving that world to create life elsewhere.
In the DCU, Captain Atom was last seen in the six-issue mini-series The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom, which just finished up in 2017. The series had Captain Atom reborn, fighting against a villain, and discovering he was a father (although he didn't reveal his identity to his son, who inherited powers). By that end of the series, it was hinted that Captain Atom might join the Justice League.
Ozymandias - Thunderbolt
Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias was based on Peter Cannon/Thunderbolt, both portrayed as humans achieving a high degree of physical and mental ability, using more of their brain than other human beings.
At the end of Watchmen, Ozymandias thought he'd gotten away with his plan to have an alien devastate New York City so the world's governments would stop fighting each other and unite instead to defeat the off-world threat.
In the DCU, Thunderbolt was introduced into continuity in the 1990s, but the rights to the character were eventually acquired by the estate of his creator, writer-artist Pete Morisi, then landed at Dynamite Entertainment several years ago. So the character isn't part of the DCU anymore, and has in fact has since shown up under the banner of another publisher.
Rorschach - The Question
The equivalence between Rorschach and the Charlton character the Question has also been confirmed by Moore, with both characters acting as street-level detectives who wore hats, trenchcoats and face-altering masks.
At the end of Watchmen, Rorschach was killed by Doctor Manhattan to keep him from sharing the truth about what Adrian had done. However, unbeknownst to Manhattan and Adrian, Rorschach had previously sent his journal to the New Frontiersman newspaper, where it is about to be discovered by an assistant editor.
In the DCU, the Question had a high-profile death in 2006, but then experienced a pretty major reboot in 2011 as part of DC's "New 52" initiative. The new version was a magical immortal who didn't know his identity and was a member of something called the Trinity of Sin. Later, another version of the Question showed up in New Suicide Squad, resembling the original street-level detective more closely. Since "Rebirth" began in 2016, however, neither version of the Question has shown up in DC continuity. (It might be worth noting, however, that one of the Question's counterparts in the Trinity of Sin was Pandora, who was vaporized at the beginning of "Rebirth" by an entity assumed to be Doctor Manhattan.)
Interesting, just as a second Rorschach appeared in Doomsday Clock there was also, for a time, a second Question in the DCU, Renee Montoya.
Nite-Owl - Blue Beetle
Nite-Owl was an equivalent to the Ted Kord version of Blue Beetle, complete with one's Owlship being similar to the other's flying Bug. Both characters even had taken over their superhero mantle from predecessors.
At the end of Watchmen, Nite-Owl had gone into hiding, taking on an alternate identity, to continue his romance with Silk Spectre.
In the DCU, Ted Kord has been recently starring in DC's "Rebirth" version of Blue Beetle. He's been acting as a mentor to the new Blue Beetle, teenager Jaime Reyes. In this series, it's been established that Ted was a superhero in the past, but after a heart attack, he stopped wearing the tights. In a recent issue of the new Blue Beetle series, he offered Jaime a job after he graduates and went on a secret scientific expedition in one of his Bugs. The series will end in February.
Silk Spectre - Nightshade/Phantom Lady/Black Canary
Moore has indicated that he invented Silk Spectre on his own because he needed a female hero for the story, saying the character was inspired as much by Phantom Lady and Black Canary as she was by the original idea of using Charlton's Nightshade.
At the end of Watchmen, Silk Spectre was reconciling with her mother and going into hiding, taking on a new identity to continue her romance with Nite-Owl.
In the DCU, Nightshade was mentioned by the aforementioned Ted Kord (during the "Rebirth" series Blue Beetle) as one of his fellow superheroes in his younger days, and Phantom Lady was featured in the "New 52" era of DC Comics as a character reintroduced into continuity with the mini-series Phantom Lady and Doll Man. But neither character is playing a role in the post-"Rebirth" DCU.
Black Canary, however, has been all over DC's continuity in recent months, both as a member of the Birds of Prey and the Justice League of America. Her relationship with Green Arrow, which had been negated by the "New 52" reboot, has been rekindled. And perhaps most notably, the character was one of the specific heroes called out in the DC Universe: Rebirth one-shot as having her life changed by the "missing 10 years" that's been blamed on Doctor Manhattan.
The Comedian - The Peacemaker
Moore has said the Comedian was loosely based on Charlton's the Peacemaker, although he mixed in a little bit of Nick Fury and Captain America (from over there in Marvel's comic books).
At the end of Watchmen, the Comedian was dead.
In the DCU, the Peacemaker appeared to die in a battle during Infinite Crisis back in 2005, and a version of the character later showed up in the 2006 version of Blue Beetle. The character hasn't been seen since the "New 52" reboot, except for an alternate version of him on Earth-4 in Multiversity, along with several other alternate earth versions of Watchmen-related DC characters.
Who Watches DC's Watchmen Analogues?
So do any of these characters - or others - owe their DCU existence to Doctor Manhattan, according to the story of Doomsday Clock? Are there other equivalent heroes that can be blamed on Jon's self-exile into the DCU? Could Earth-4 itself be credited to Jon, but he got bored enough to dabble in DC's main Earth? If the hints dropped by Adrian and Rorschach in Doomsday Clock #2 mean anything, there's probably some connection between them all.