Spoilers ahead for Doomsday Clock #7.
This week's Doomsday Clock #7 revealed that Dr. Manhattan’s interference in DC history began all the way back in the 1940’s, preventing events from happening during DC’s Golden Age and molding the current timeline into his own version of the DC Earth.
Specifically, Dr. Manhattan of the Watchmen universe prevented Alan Scott from finding his Green Lantern, thus causing him to die (when he should have lived and become one of Earth’s earliest superheroes).
Ever since DC Universe: Rebirth #1 introduced the idea that Dr. Manhattan might have created the "New 52," readers have suspected the character stole 10 years from the DC timeline and possibly manipulated other events in DC’s history.
With this week’s Doomsday Clock #7, the latest in the mini-series by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, that manipulation is not only confirmed, but it can be traced back to the very beginning of DC’s superhero history. It appears that the current DC timeline only exists in its current form because of Dr. Manhattan’s machinations.
Of course, DC Universe: Rebirth started the process of undoing some of Dr. Manhattan’s damage, as Wally West broke free from the Speed Force and relationships began to form that echoed an era before the New 52 reboot.
But in Doomsday Clock #7, the focus shifted to Dr. Manhattan and set up a showdown between Superman and the blue Watchmen character.
How did the series go down? It’s a pretty complicated issue, packed full of dialogue and key moments. But let’s take a look at a few of the high points.
Manhattan’s narration reveals that the Watchmen character moved the Green Lantern “six inches” out of Alan Scott’s reach, causing him to die in 1940 instead of becoming the world’s first Green Lantern.
Manhattan is obviously aware of the Justice Society of America, purposely preventing them from ever existing. “My fingers draw lines in the dust on an empty round table,” he says.
Manhattan is also aware that, one month from now, his ability to see his future ends.
Johnny Thunder has Alan Scott’s lantern at the beginning of the issue, its new history bringing it to a member of the JSA despite Manhattan’s scheme.
Johnny, the new Rorschach (Reggie Long) and Saturn Girl (Imra Ardeen), who had all found each other by the end of issue #6, are discovered by Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt in the Owl Ship. They all board the flying vehicle.
The Comedian and Batman have been captured (in the last issue) by the Joker, Mime and Marionette. As this issue opens, Batman is unconscious, but the Comedian is being tortured.
Batman eventually wakes up and battles Joker, Mime, and Marionette.
Learning the “Whys”
We find out why Saturn Girl was sent to the present (from the future). She announces that she’s here to “help cleanse the time stream of an unknown anomaly that threatens” Superman.
Under torture, Comedian says that Dr. Manhattan only asked him to “take out Veidt’s cat.” He claims that his attacks on the Watchmen characters themselves were just him “havin’ a little bit of fun.”
Back when Dr. Manhattan/Jon Osterman encountered Marionette in the Watchmen universe, he didn’t choose to let her live because she was pregnant and he cared about it. He says that he saw what her child would do in the future and “chose to save him.” (It’s not clear which child he means, because Manhattan reveals that Marionette is pregnant again, so will apparently have another child.)
The presence of Ozymandias’ pet cat Bubastis is explained (since the original Bubastis died in Watchmen). This cat is actually “Bubastis II,” a clone from the remains of the original who acts as a compass toward Manhattan. The animal also provides a blind spot, making Manhattan unable to clearly see the characters around her.
As hinted earlier in Doomsday Clock, this Bubastis is able to track and collect the tachyon particles that Manhattan leaves behind (finding them on the lantern and on the Comedian).
After Bubastis leads Ozymandias and his co-travelers to Gotham City (following the trail presumably left by Comedian), Saturn Girl and Johnny stay in the Owl Ship. But Ozymandias and Rorscach join the Joker, Comedian, Batman, Mime and Marionette.
Eventually (after an energy-filled light show caused by Bubastis and the Green Lantern), the cloned cat is able to draw Manhattan to her.
When Manhattan appears, Batman says, “I know who you are.”
Manhattan isolates the five characters from the Watchmen universe (including himself) and transports them away from Batman and Joker.
Adrian asks Manhattan to come back to the Watchmen world and save it.
“I’m not going back,” Jon answers. “I’m in the middle of something.”
The new Rorschach tries to convince Manhattan that his former friend Adrian Veidt has changed. But Manhattan reveals the truth: Adrian does not have cancer.
Ozymandias shows his true colors. He manipulated Reggie. And he never had cancer.
Why is Manhattan in the DCU?
Jon says he came to the DCU “at first” to find “a place among them.”
“But then something happened as I looked forward. I saw a vision of the most hopeful among them” (presumably Superman), “heading toward me, now hopeless. And then … I saw nothing.”
Manhattan draws a parallel with the movie that’s been hinted about since the beginning of the series: The Adjournment starring the murdered actor Carver Colman. He also talks about “two men playing chess. Both were shot and killed before the game was finished.”
“I was wrong again. Everything ends,” Manhattan says before leaving.
State of the World
At this point in the future, the DCU is filled with turmoil, with TV newscasts revealing superheroes around the world dealing with catastrophic events and accusations related to the Supermen Theory. There are cameos by some previously seen characters and some new ones, like Geo-Force, Pozhar (from Russia), Big Monster Action (in Japan), the Doomed (in India), and Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man (who apparently ate some human traffickers).
While the public distrusts superheroes, newscasts show that they still have confidence in Superman.
At the beginning of the issue, the new Rorschach believes that his father “never gave in to dark thoughts” and was going to save Walter Kovacs, the original Rorscach. However, by the Doomsday Clock #7’s conclusion, Ozymandias makes Reggie realize his father was actually broken down by Rorschach and had left Reggie’s mother before they both perished.
Although Saturn Girl, who knows the future, spends much of the issue assuring people that “everything’s going to be fine” (and that Johnny Thunder will find the Thunderbolt again), she’s not so sure by #7’s conclusion.
“That’s not supposed to happen,” she says as she reads Ozymandias’ thoughts.
Ozymandias is almost killed by Reggie, but he escapes to his Owl Ship where Imra and Johnny are waiting.
The Joker is unconscious, having also been beaten up by the angry Reggie.
Mime and Marionette are having another baby, and now they have escaped into the DCU with Alan Scott’s lantern and, apparently, they still have the Comedian.
Reggie has taken off the Rorschach mask and is walking the streets of the DCU.
Reggie is shown mailing a large envelope to Lois Lane, presumably informing the reporter of the whole story.
Batman has the Rorschach mask, picking it up off the floor where Reggie dropped it.
Adrian has a plan. And he’s not playing “Mister Nice Guy” anymore for Reggie’s benefit (although Saturn Girl and Johnny are still in his Owl Ship with him).
Manhattan will be attacked by Superman in one month and … Jon’s ability to see the future ends there. So either Manhattan himself dies in the future, or he somehow causes everything to end.
The story is set to continue with Doomsday Clock #8, due out November 28.