What is DC's "5G?" Well, we don't know a lot, but following the events of Doomsday Clock #12, we have a little bit more context for what is to come. Released today, the final issue of the series -- a DC-sanctioned sequel to Watchmen from writer Geoff Johns, with art by Gary Frank and colorist Brad Anderson -- let loose a torrent of teases and revelations about the past and future of DC. The DC Universe has been reinvented again, and this time it goes not just backwards, but also forward, projecting stories that might or might not ever actually happen on Johns's watch.
As you might expect from a view of the future, it comes from Doctor Manhattan. And given what we have seen from him in Doomsday Clock, and the way this particular issue ends, it is fair to say that he is not an entirely reliable narrator.
Spoilers ahead for Doomsday Clock #12, obviously. Click away now if you don't want to know.
The key moment that Doomsday Clock has been teasing for several issues -- an enraged Superman charging, fist cocked, at Doctor Manhattan -- comes and goes about halfway through the issue, and when Doctor Manhattan realizes that there is a lot more to Superman than meets the eye, he responds by re-evaluating a lot about himself. One thing he does, is to move through DC's history, undoing some of the damage that he had done (as detailed in earlier issues) to the timeline.
Along with that, though, we learn that Doctor Manhattan's ability to see all of time at once has seemingly returned to him once he has some clarity of mission. And among the various exciting ideas that are teased is the launch of "5G," a rumored initiative from DC that would replace some of its heroes with younger and more diverse versions. While some reports have suggested this will take over the main publishing line, a la what Marvel did a few years ago with Marvel NOW!, the way it sounds in the comic is that "5G" is going to be its own Earth in DC's multiverse.
Per the issue, as narrated by Doctor Manhattan, "In the year 2020, Superman's timeline is bombarded by the reckless energies of the old gods, once again warping the metaverse. It's July 2nd, 2025. A Crisis unlike any the metaverse has seen, one they will call 'Time Masters,' erupts...but in its wake, Superman is revitalized....It is January 2026. The timeline is restored...and Earth-5G is born. It is June 17, 2026. Superman goes on a quest to find Bruce Wayne's lost daughter...so she can save Bruce's son. On July 10, 2030, the 'Secret Crisis' begins, throwing Superman into a brawl across the universe with Thor himself...and a green behemoth stronger than even Doomsday, who dies protecting Superman from these invaders."
It's entirely possible, of course, that 5G will take over the publishing line for a time. Some of the Earths referenced in Doctor Manhattan's exposition over the back half of the series include "Earth-1985," an extension of the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths's Earth-1, and "Earth-52," where The New 52 lives on, undisturbed by the events of DC Universe: Rebirth.
What shape 5G will take is anybody's guess, although for a while we have all understood it was more than just rumors, since the "generations" of heroes, including 5G, appeared on a timeline projected on a screen at New York Comic Con in October.
Doomsday Clock takes Doctor Manhattan, Ozymandias, and other characters from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen and transplants them into the DC Universe, fleeing the destruction left behind by a war that broke out after world leaders learned of Ozymandias's duplicity at the start of the original series. While its finale and the final episode of HBO's Watchmen both hit this week, each of them is a very different sequel to the classic '80s alt-history comic.
Picking up on a plot thread writer Geoff Johns had left in DC Universe: Rebirth #1, Johns and artist Gary Frank, along with colorist Brad Anderson, return to the world of Watchmen and explore the question of just what Doctor Manhattan may have had to do with 2011's post-Flashpoint relaunch of DC's main line of continuity. Along the way, Superman has to deal with an increasingly paranoid and unhinged public who distrust him as a result of conspiracy theories being circulated to slander the metahuman community.
Doomsday Clock #12 is on sale now at comic book stores and online. The first half of the series is also available in collected edition.