Is the DCU Already Heading Down a Path to DOOMSDAY CLOCK's Beginning?

Doomsday Clock #3
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: Gary Frank (DC Comics)

Doomsday Clock may be running a little late on its “12 months from now” timeline (being well over a year old now), but there have been a few signs that the DCU is already heading toward an alignment with that story’s beginning.

The 12-issue series by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, which kicked off in November 2017, was initially announced to take about a year to finish. Now it appears that Doomsday Clock may culminate sometime this summer.

Doomsday Clock was highly anticipated because it has been bringing characters into the DCU from the legendary mid-‘80s series Watchmen, which previously existed in its own universe.

Hints about the presence of the powerful Dr. Manhattan in the DCU have been seeded in DC books since Johns oversaw “Rebirth,” a relaunch of the publisher’s books in summer 2016. In fact, according to Johns’ DC Universe: Rebirth #1 one-shot that kicked off that relaunch, Dr. Manhattan created the "New 52" universe (back in 2011) and erased 10 years from the DC timeline. Characters who were previously erased have since been coming back.

Credit: DC

And according to the solicitation for May’s Doomsday Clock #11, the truth behind the DCU’s “Rebirth” will be revealed in that issue.

So far in Doomsday Clock, several characters from the Watchmen universe have traveled to the DCU to search for Doctor Manhattan, and a conspiracy theory called the “Supermen Theory” has surfaced, alleging the U.S. government created many of the nation’s superheroes. Black Adam claims it’s true, and Lex Luthor says it’s all connected to a former member of the Justice League.

There’s also been some indication that the Justice Society of America still exists somehow, or at least will return (despite DC’s 2011 reboot eliminating them from continuity). Alan Scott’s lantern has resurfaced, and Lois Lane has seen footage of the JSA from 1941.

In the most recent issue, Doomsday Clock #8, Dr. Manhattan seems to have attacked Firestorm and Superman, who disappeared in a flash of blue light.

Although there’s no evidence in the DCU of a Superman Theory (yet), there have been a few indications that the DCU might be moving toward the circumstances that kicked off Doomsday Clock.

Here’s a breakdown of how three particular developments in the DCU seem to be precursors to the story of Doomsday Clock.

Credit: Gary Frank/Brad Anderson (DC Comics)


Credit: Gary Frank/Brad Anderson/Rob Leigh (DC Comics)

DCU Development: Hero Mistrust

What’s in the Doomsday Clock future:

As Doomsday Clock began, the public didn’t trust heroes in costume. Something called the “Supermen Theory” blames the preponderance of superhuman in the U.S. on interference from the government. And governments around the world are starting to make political moves against this perceived threat, with Russia even declaring war.

Even the villains are feeling the tension, as a scene in Doomsday Clock #6 showed several of them gathered together for a meeting. Some voiced that they’re afraid there might be government operatives among their ranks. Others were hoping the mistrust of heroes meant the villains could get away with a coordinated attack.

But one sentence uttered during the meeting pointed toward another development that seems connected to Doomsday Clock. One of the characters specifically mentioned “what happened to the first Tattooed Man at that Sanctuary place.”

Credit: DC

What’s Developing in the Current DCU:

Credit: Gary Frank/Brad Anderson/Rob Leigh (DC Comics)

After some information on superheroes was leaked to Lois Lane in the current DC Heroes in Crisis limited series, she decided she had to run a story in The Daily Planet about the superhero mental health treatment facility called Sanctuary.

The public just discovered in the story that some superheroes have mental health problems and PTSD. As Batgirl said when the news broke, “They’ll change the world.”

Superman and Wonder Woman had to hold a press conference to explain the existence of Sanctuary, because it scared the bejeezus out of the public.

The Daily Planet is probably now one of several media outlets covering the story and stirring the outrage of the public. So the fear of superheroes (that shows up in Doomsday Clock later) appears to have at least been seeded with the circumstances in Heroes in Crisis.

DCU Development: Lex Luthor’s Status

What’s in the Doomsday Clock future:

When Doomsday Clock’s first few issues were released, they positioned Lex Luthor as a villain.

At the beginning of Doomsday Clock, LexCorp was pursuing a takeover of Wayne Enterprises, and dialogue implied that although the public trusts Lex more than they trust the world’s costumed heroes, he’s not working toward good. He’s egging the public’s hatred on, telling them they’re correct to mistrust the heroes.

What’s Developing in the Current DCU:

In the regular DCU at the time of Doomsday Clock #1’s release, Lex Luthor was a hero, working in conjunction with the Justice League and saving lives.

Lex’s status has since changed. Lex Luthor is not only a villain again, but in the current DCU, he’s ruthlessly fighting on the opposite side of the Justice League in the regular Justice League series. He switched sides after May 2018’s Justice League: No Justice.

Credit: Pasqual Ferry/Hi-FI (DC)

DCU Development: Abandoning Batman

What’s in the Doomsday Clock future:

In Doomsday Clock, it’s been established that the public’s mistrust of superheroes is particularly focused in Gotham City.
The citizens of Gotham appear to even hate the Batman, and they’re demonstrating in the streets against the existence of the “fascist” Batman and his “vigilante terror.”

What’s Developing in the Current DCU:

December 2018’s Batman #60 showed Batman violently interrogating street-level villains who just got out of Arkham Asylum. He was trying to get evidence against Bane (who’s in Arkham Asylum right now, orchestrating a grand scheme against Batman).

But nobody is talking. And it’s starting to kind of drive Batman off the deep end.

Credit: Mikel Janin/June Chung (DC Comics)

Batman also violently forced a confession out of Mr. Freeze recently for a crime that he may not have committed. That case bothered Jim Gordon, particularly after witnessing Batman freak out on Bane in previous issues.

When Gordon learns that Batman is continuing to hurt former Arkham patients on the streets of Gotham (13 of them in one night), it’s the last straw.

Jim Gordon grabs a baseball bat and goes to the roof. He destroys the Bat Signal. “No more!” he says.

So the GCPD already distrusts Batman.

The storyline in Batman is pushing the hero to his breaking point (with Nightwing being shot, Catwoman leaving him at the alter, and his father from another universe battling against him). Combined with the stresses of the events in Heroes in Crisis, and the revelations in The Daily Planet about heroes having some serious issues, the story seems already primed for a public reckoning for Batman.

The story continues March 6 with Doomsday Clock #9.

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