This year is shaping up to be a mind-blowing one for DC fans. Just last week the publisher released Dark Nights: Metal #1, kicking off its newest event series by bringing Batman & Co. face-to-face with Dream, the protagonist of Neil Gaiman’s beloved ’90s cult comic The Sandman (read our interview with writer Scott Snyder about that here). But that’s not the only venerable comic on a collision course with the Justice League this year. On Monday, Geoff Johns unveiled the covers for his upcoming DC-Watchmen crossover, Doomsday Clock.
The main cover for the first issue, drawn by series artist Gary Frank, features a gang of angry people holding signs, a sight that should be especially familiar to Americans this year. The main sign reads “The End Is Here,” an update of the famous “The End Is Nigh” sign held by Rorschach in the original Watchmen series. Astute readers will also notice that the series’ title, Doomsday Clock, is written down the side of the image in the same yellow-and-black font as the original Watchmen issues.
Frank’s variant cover features Superman and Dr. Manhattan. The latter is the only hero with actual superpowers in Watchmen, which helped get land on EW’s list of the “Most Powerful Superheroes.” He’s been popping up obliquely in the DC Universe ever since Batman discovered the bloody smiley face button in the Batcave at the end of last year’s DC Rebirth one-shot. That issue, and the wide-ranging initiative that followed it, aimed at bringing “hope” back to the DC pantheon. In the context of the story, Johns has positioned Dr. Manhattan as the enemy of hope (and thus, in a meta sense, fingered Watchmen as the source of the doom-and-gloom sensibility that has plagued superhero comics over the last few decades).
“You don’t want to just do a cameo. It’s not a gimmick. I don’t want to have Dr. Manhattan show up for the end of Rebirth, and then he’s in two pages of a book later on,” Johns teased at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. “If there’s one being out there that could mess with time in such a radical way and challenge hope, I just felt like Dr. Manhattan was it.”
Dr. Manhattan’s reckoning with the DC universe, and its major emblem Superman, in particular, will finally arrive in Doomsday Clock. When asked at Comic-Con if Superman would be a factor in the Doomsday Clock story, Johns responded that “he is the story.”
Doomsday Clock #1 hits stores Nov. 22. Check out the covers above.