It is no exaggeration to say that Doomsday Clock, officially unveiled at New York Comic-Con, is the most daring thing DC Comics has ever attempted.
This series will attempt to do what many fans think is impossible — completely connect the regular DC Comics Universe (Superman, Batman et al) with that of Alan Moore’s Watchmen, the most celebrated graphic novel of all time.
For years, these two worlds have remained completely separate. Then Batman found the iconic button worn by the Comedian in the first issue of DC Rebirth — the book that relaunched the universe.
This move shocked many. The Watchmen (Doctor Manhattan, Ozymandias et al) always existed in their own reality — one in which Richard Nixon was still president in 1985, and half of New York City was destroyed in a successful attempt to avoid nuclear war.
Comics fans may also love Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman — but separately. Bringing them together with morally grey superheroes from a gritty world of nuclear fears suggests an unworkable clash of storytelling genres.
But Geoff Johns — President and Chief Creative Officer at DC and the writer of this series — says he is fully aware of the risk.
“We’re nervous about it, but we’re excited about it,” he says. “It’s gotta be pulled off in a way that respects the source material and builds off it.”
Unlike other series, this story will be completely contained within Doomsday Clock issues so that Johns and artist Gary Frank can have complete control of the project.
“We just wanna make these 12 issues the best 12 issues that we’ve ever done in comics. So no pressure,” he laughs.
It took nine months after the launch of DC Rebirth for Johns to come up with an idea he was satisfied with. He waited until he was confident that this story was worth telling before he and Frank dove in.
Until now, people have had no real grasp on what the story will be. Will it bring Superman and Dr. Manhattan together in a fist fight? “That’s not at all what I’m interested in doing,” Johns says. He’s not writing a gimmicky crossover, but something that is more about the thematics of the world colliding.
And in these first six pages, released Friday, we get just a taste of that. (The final versions will be in full color.)
The first things fans will notice is Frank’s incredible artwork, reminiscent of Dave Gibbons’ talents on the original Watchmen. The team adopted Gibbons’ memorable nine-panel page layout, so this immediately feels like we’re back in that world.
Through the rest of these pages, readers are re-introduced to a controversial character — Rorschach — who actually died in the graphic novel. How is he around seven years later? We’ll just have to wonder for now.
Johns hopes the book is serious and gritty like Watchmen, but he also wanted to inject some humor. The last panel of page six shows how that might work.
Johns hopes the first issue of this series “will deserve people’s attention.” It seems he has it. At the very least, this is something comics fans will debate about until the issue comes out November 22.