Dr. Manhattan retraces the history of the DCU in Doomsday Clock #10, revealing that his curiosity about continuity changes is what prompted him to create the "New 52."
Written by Geoff Johns with art by Gary Frank, Doomsday Clock #10 revealed that:
- Manhattan arrived in the DCU some time ago, and he witnessed the creation of the Justice Society of America, the Legion of Super-Heroes, and even the first appearance of Superman.
- The character was confused the various continuity changes to DC history that occurred over time.
- Manhattan decided to make another change to the DCU to see what happened, preventing Alan Scott from becoming the original Green Lantern in 1940 (as was already hinted in issue #9).
- By making this change, Dr. Manhattan created the "New 52" universe.
- Wally West’s appearance in the DCU (in DC Universe: Rebirth #1) were a result of “innate hope” fighting back against Manhattan’s meddling.
- Everything’s ready for Superman and Dr. Manhattan to finally battle in the next issue.
The issue also describes the main DC Universe as a “Metaverse.” Dr. Manhattan uses the label to explain that when changes are made to the DCU, they causes the Multiverse to morph around it. And Superman is at the center of it all.
Doomsday Clock #10 is the latest chapter in the event series that launched in 2017, promising to explain the shocking revelation (from 2016’s DC Universe: Rebirth #1) that Dr. Manhattan from the Watchmen universe created DC’s "New 52" continuity.
The story of Doomsday Clock is in continuity, but it takes place in the future of the DCU. Other DC books are reportedly going to eventually reach the point where Doomsday Clock began.
Let’s take a look at spoilers from Doomsday Clock #10 to figure out how the creators packed a bunch of DC history into one issue while setting up the series’ next big event - the showdown between Superman and Dr. Manhattan.
The entire issue is narrated by Dr. Manhattan, jumping from events in the 1930’s all the way to the present day.
The narration is taking place as Dr. Manhattan is in the midst of a battle on Mars with just about every DC superhero (except the Trinity).
Well, it’s not really a battle. Manhattan has easily subdued the DC heroes, proving himself to be seemingly indestructible.
In this issue, Hal Jordan calls for backup from the rest of the Green Lantern Corps, but before he can even finish calling for help, Manhattan incapacitates him all the DC heroes simultaneously.
Manhattan says it’s for “reasons that will become clear.”
And he reveals that he is waiting for Superman.
(Reminder: In the last issue, Superman was in a coma.)
Previously in Doomsday Clock, readers have been shown scenes from the final “Nathaniel Dusk” noir film The Adjournment, as well as the 1954 unsolved murder of its star, Carver Coleman.
It wasn’t clear why The Adjournment and Carver Coleman were being included in the story of Doomsday Clock. But this issue reveals Carver’s importance: He was the first person to whom Dr. Manhattan spoke when he arrived in the DCU.
Before we get to that scene, though, there’s an interesting hint about Johnny Thunder. (Reminder: Johnny Thunder is the elderly character in Doomsday Clock who recently found Alan Scott’s Lantern with Saturn Girl. And he was told in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 that he needed to find and re-form the JSA, a team of which he was a member in previous continuities.)
In Doomsday Clock #10, readers are shown what was happening backstage as The Adjournment was being filmed. And there’s a hint that a young Johnny Thunder was on the set of The Adjournment.
Johnny was apparently serving coffee to one of the movie executives when he was fired for forgetting the milk and sugar.
This behind-the-scenes moment from The Adjournment is just one of several scenes that Dr. Manhattan recounts in his narration.
Manhattan is experiencing different moments of time, one after another, and these moments form the structure of the entire issue.
Manhattan’s DCU Arrival
One of the moments is November 2, 1985. It’s the dialogue from Watchmen when Dr. Manhattan said he would leave his galaxy for “one less complicated.”
On that day, Manhattan says, he “entered the Multiverse.”
On April 18, 1938, Manhattan says he arrived in the DCU, “drawn to Superman’s world” for reasons he didn’t understand.
The date is important because it’s when Superman was introduced in comic books by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
But in Doomsday Clock #10, readers are shown that Golden Age Superman’s introduction happened just after Dr. Manhattan arrived in the DCU and met actor Carver Coleman.
When Manhattan arrived on April 18, 1938, the energy blast killed two police officers and saved young Carver Coleman from being arrested for sleeping on the streets of Hollywood.
Manhattan introduces himself to the homeless, unemployed actor: “My name is Jon.”
Carver, after asking if Dr. Manhattan is an angel, reveals how hungry he is when his stomach growls.
Manhattan offers to help.
Words of Prophecy
The two go to a diner together, with Manhattan disguising his true form to everyone around them.
Manhattan’s narration reveals that he feels like he is “walking through a fog.” He cannot even see three minutes into the future.
“I need something to focus on,” Manhattan thinks to himself, and he decides to hone in on Carver Coleman himself.
The issue’s panels jump to April 18 on various subsequent years. Manhattan experiences each day almost at the same time.
All of these days, Manhattan is sitting in the same diner, in the same booth, across from Carver Coleman.
Apparently, at each meeting, on the same day each year, Manhattan tells Carver about significant events that are going to be happening in his life during the upcoming year.
To Carver, these moments serve as important prophesies. Because of Manhattan’s predictions, Carver knows ahead of time when he’s going land movie parts and win awards.
But on April 18, 1954, Manhattan tells Carver that he won’t be on this world one year from now.
The scene switches back to Carver and Manhattan’s first meeting, in the diner, on April 18, 1938.
Dr. Manhattan overhears something from the radio in the diner’s kitchen - a news report about a “mysterious man who lifted a car over his head!”
Manhattan disappears, but he left behind the photo of himself with Janey (the picture that was on Mars in the last issue, in the present-day DCU). In this 1938 scene, Carver finds the photo on the now-empty seat in the diner.
Manhattan has transported to Metropolis, where Superman just shocked a crowd who watched him lift the car as depicted on the Action Comics #1 cover (and … side note here … that car also showed up recently in Brian Michael Bendis’ Action Comics run).
Anyway, the point of Manhattan showing up here is that he sees two different realities at this moment — one where Superman’s origin with the car occurred in 1938…
… And one where it didn’t.
Suddenly, the scene switches to July 1940, when Alan Scott is reaching for his Green Lantern. (We already know, from past issues, that Manhattan moved the Lantern out of Alan’s reach at some point and made that event never happen. But first, Manhattan experiences this reality, where it did happen — and Alan Scott did become Green Lantern.)
Doomsday Clock #10 quickly recounts, in a page with an eight-panel grid, a series of origin stories for Golden Age heroes who later formed the JSA with Alan Scott.
Included in Manhattan’s narration are the origins of Jay Garrick (the original Flash), Carter Hall (Hawkman), Al Pratt (Atom), Kent Nelson (Dr. Fate), Wesley Dodds (Sandman), Jim Corrigan (The Spectre), and Rex Tyler (Hourman).
Manhattan then witnesses the very first meeting of the JSA, with the members sitting around their now-iconic round table (as depicted on the cover of All-Star Comics #3 on November 1940, the date also cited by Manhattan in the narration here).
As Johnny Thunder takes the photo of the first JSA meeting, the members discuss how they are inspired by Superman.
The scene switches again, and the members of the JSA are meeting, but they don’t even know who Superman is.
There are two realities.
Manhattan is curious.
Manhattan, Continuity Junkie
Manhattan investigates these two realities, appearing in the diner again, this time in April 1948.
He asks Carver if he’s ever heard of Superman?
“No,” says Carver.
Manhattan discovers that in this second reality, Superman doesn’t show up until 1956.
Yep, it’s the Silver Age version of Superman, and Manhattan witnesses the Kryptonian’s rocket crashing on the Kent farm.
As Manhattan’s narration puts it: “Carver Colman never heard of Superman because an outside force shifted his arrival forward in time. The reverberations of this change affect not only this world, but every world in the Multiverse.”
Ah, Geoff Johns, you sneaky devil. Manhattan is exploring the changing continuities of the DCU, with Superman as his focus. And the “outside force,” of course, is DC editorial.
But in this story, the narration says the “shifts in Superman’s timeline” are because of “forces such as the Anti-Monitor and Extant.”
So we’re still in the fictional DCU.
Long Live the Legion!
Anyway, Manhattan’s curiosity about DC continuity continues, and readers are shown other versions of Superman’s origin, including the post-Crisis story from October 1986 and versions where Pa Kent dies and Pa Kent lives.
“I don’t understand this universe,” Manhattan’s narration says.
Manhattan’s curiosity about Superman then takes him into the future, following Superman’s “trail of influence.”
And in the 31st Century, Manhattan sees Clark Kent interacting with Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl of the Legion of Super-Heroes, a future team he inspired.
(The scene depicted is the cover of 1958’s Adventure Comics #247, complete with Cosmic Boy’s glass bubble and the name Lightning Boy. Manhattan is witnessing the first comic book appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes.)
So finally, Manhattan’s curiosity about Superman moves him into action.
(And the word “action” plays a role in the whole issue, actually, from the director yelling it during the movie-related scenes, to Manhattan using it himself. And of course, the title of the issue is “Action.”)
And now we get to see the creation of the "New 52" universe. And it’s all Manhattan’s fault.
Manhattan moved the Green Lantern out of Alan Scott’s reach.
Boom. The timeline changed. “As I watch reality come crashing down, I realize that this universe is not part of the Multiverse as others believe,” Manhattan says.
“It is the Metaverse.”
Manhattan explains that one little change to the main DC Universe causes changes throughout the DC Multiverse, and Superman serves as the center of those changes.
According to Manhattan, the Metaverse is in a “constant state of change” — meaning that there have been continuity changes galore in the history of the DCU.
DC fans hear ya, Manhattan!
So anyway, the removal of the Green Lantern causes Superman’s continuity to change into his "New 52" origin. Manhattan witnesses Martha and Jonathan Kent dying in a car accident, and he sees the emergence of the "New 52"’s T-shirt-wearing Superman and no-red-trunks Superman.
(And by the way, there’s no mention of Barry Allen’s Flashpoint or Pandora.)
Metaverse Wally Fights Back
Manhattan says that “one year ago” (which appears to be around 2016-ish, the start of DC’s “Rebirth” continuity), the Metaverse fought back.
“I realize the Metaverse is not passive,” Manhattan’s narration says. “Like an organism fighting to survive, there are aspects of it I have underestimated - an innate hope that fights back to the surface.”
Wally West suddenly starts breaking through the Speed Force to confront Dr. Manhattan, wearing his Kid Flash uniform (as depicted in DC Universe: Rebirth #1).
“Whatever you did, they’ll stop you!” Wally says.
So, this is apparently the explanation for the events of DC Universe: Rebirth #1.
Wally represented “innate hope” breaking through to mess up Manhattan’s newly created DCU timeline. And all the subsequent tweaks to that continuity during the last three years since DC Universe: Rebirth #1 were apparently “innate hope” fighting back to the surface.
How This Ends
Manhattan then summarizes three endings:
1) The death of Carver Coleman is the first ending, and it’s juxtaposed with the conclusion of his film, The Adjournment.
In Carver’s real life, the person blackmailing him was his own mother, and she’s the one who murdered him in 1954.
Dr. Manhattan admits he did nothing to stop Carver’s murder
2) Another ending was the conclusion of Watchmen, in which Ozymandias murdered millions of people in an effort to unite his world.
Dr. Manhattan admits he did nothing to stop the crimes committed in Watchmen.
3) The ending that concerns Manhattan now is his own future that he cannot see.
As readers learned in Doomsday Clock #7, Manhattan cannot see his future. The last future event he can see is Superman throwing a punch at him.
On the final pages of Doomsday Clock #10, Manhattan repeats his theory about his inability to see future: Either Superman “destroys me … or I destroy the Metaverse.”
Manhattan realizes that, to this universe of hope, he has become the villain. And he’s going to be attacked by the hero, Superman.
His final narration in Doomsday Clock #10 sums it up this way:
“I am a being of inaction, on a collision course with a man of action.”
As the issue concludes, Manhattan arrives on Earth, walking toward his final confrontation with Superman.
And at the same time, Superman awakens from his coma.
The story continues with Doomsday Clock #11, currently scheduled for release August 14.