The first issue of DC's Doomsday Clock, from writer Geoff Johns, artist Gary Frank, and colorist Brad Anderson, hit the stands today -- and picking up seven years after the events of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen, the series establishes a new President of the United States -- one who defeated Richard Nixon in the 1988 election.
No, it is not Ronald Reagan, whom some fans had assumed was the candidate eyeing a run at the Presidency according to a headline in Watchmen #12. Given that he was the President of the United States at the time of Watchmen's publication, Reagan seemed the obvious choice when a headline indicated that "RR" would run.
In Watchmen Annotated, though, Leslie Klinger notes that the "RR" who was considering a run was in fact actor and activist Robert Redford, who had starred in the political comedy The Candidate. Redford, apparently, won the election in 1988 and was re-elected in 1992 (the series takes place in 1992) in part on the promise to catch Ozymandias.
Klinger, who created Watchmen Annotated with consultation from artist Dave Gibbons, says in the book that readers "will soon see" that it was Redford, not Reagan, who would run -- and the black and white art in both Watchmen Annotated and the recently-released Watchmen: Noir looks more like a shot of Redford than Reagan, while the coloring on the newspaper box obscures that connection in the original Watchmen. The obvious implication, since Watchmen Annotated was an official DC publication, is that Klinger had access to information about Doomsday Clock ahead of its publication.
In the ashcan for Doomsday Clock #1, released in October at New York Comic Con, the publisher revealed that the U.S. President was an absentee leader, more focused on his golf game than leading a country in crisis while his own vice president stages a hostage crisis in the White House. He was not identified in those early pages, and is never identified by both his first and last name in the comic, but between Klinger's context clues and the repeated mentions of "President Redford," one can assume that he ran and won following the events of Watchmen.
In an ironic twist, one of Redford's most significant roles in the 1970s was that of Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, one of the reporters whose work covering the break-in at the Watergate hotel helped to take down President Richard Nixon. In the world of Watchmen, The Comedian joked about Woodward and Bernstein's murder during their investigation, with some readers taking away that it was he who killed them (although he denied it, joking instead about killing President John F. Kennedy, which he was depicted as having done in the movie version of Watchmen).
You can get a copy of Doomsday Clock #1 at your local comic shop or pick up a digital copy here.