At the end of Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons gave the characters of that beloved work a sendoff that nobody had any real reason to assume would not be their final appearances. Not designed to have a sequel, Watchmen had a cataclysmic and seemingly inevitable ending, and sent its costumed protagonists off in wildly different directions. Now, more than thirty years later, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank have finally concluded Doomsday Clock, the first official sequel to Watchmen, and they have the task of creating a satisfying ending not just for the characters they mined from Moore and Gibbons's work, but for the new characters they created for this story as well.
There was a lot going on in this final issue, but we figured everyone was going to be pretty keen to find out what happened to Doctor Manhattan and Ozymandias at least. So here's what we know about the "for-now" conclusions given to the characters of the series.
Spoilers ahead for Doomsday Clock #12, obviously. Click away now if you don't want to know.
To establish a baseline: 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.
And it was all leading up to a showdown between Doctor Manhattan and Superman, in which Doctor Manhattan believed that either Superman would kill him, or he (Doctor Manhattan) would kill the universe.
Yes, Superman did charge at Doctor Manhattan, rage in his eyes and fist cocked. But while Doctor Manhattan prepared himself for whatever destiny had in store for him, Superman cold-cocked a villain who was set on attacking the blue god from behind.
This act of kindness -- likely something he was not used to, since the last decades of his life on the Watchmen Earth were spent with people constantly scheming to use him -- shifted his perspective, and Superman convinced Doctor Manhattan that the reason he could not see the future of the DC Universe at the time was not because either of them died, but because he was going to go back home and do his best to save his own universe instead.
It turned out that this was Adrian Veidt's plan all along: he knew that he would never be able to convince Doctor Manhattan to come back, but that Superman would. His nobility presumably pinged the same part of Doctor Manhattan's humanity that the led him to come back from Mars in Watchmen because each human life is a miracle. The same logic that led him to spare the lives of the Marionette and the Mime because hey were expecting a child.
He does, indeed, return home and uses his power to do as much damage control as he can. It is not immediately clear what he does, other than presumably prevent World War III. He walks through the decimated ruins of Veidt's corporate headquarters, plants growing under his feet as he moves. And when he is satisfied with what he has done, he gives the last of his life force "to this world and this child," thinking of a life that could have been -- one shared with Janey Slater and without super powers -- as he passes on.
Grabbed away from a potential conflict with Batman by Doctor Manhattan's teleportation, Adrian Veidt reveals that his master plan worked exactly as he intended it to. Gloating, he prompts Jon Osterman to take him -- along with the new Rorschach, the Marionette, and the Mime -- home.
Then, he is shot in the gut by The Comedian.
Inspired by the heroism of the DC Universe, though, the new Rorschach ignores what would have been the vengeful indifference of Walter Kovacs and instead acts, inspired by Bryon Lewis, to staunch the bleeding and save the life of the man who had made his own life so miserable.
Ultimately, Veidt's old corporate office would be transformed into a prison capable of holding him. It is not clear from this story whether it holds him forever, in part because another figure seems likely to influence that.
According to Doctor Manhattan, Bubastis eventually ends up at the side of a woman who goes by Nostalgia. Their relationship starts when she is a teen obsessed with the story of Ozymandias, and eventually Cleopatra Pak, an orphan who spends a lot of time outside of Veidt's prison compound, will be the guardian of Veidt's pet.
Instead, he is shot by a very special weapon wielded by Lex Luthor.
Remember -- in the DC multiverse, all of the Earths share the same physical space, but vibrate at a different rate so they are invisible and intangible to one another. The weapon Lex wields simply "corrects" the vibrational frequency of a multiversal traveler, essentially sending them back where they belong.
In the case of The Comedian, where he "belonged" was halfway between his apartment and his rapidly-approaching death on the sidewalk, setting the events of Watchmen into motion.
Reminded that there is good in the universe (in part because he was saved from a racist attacker by Alfred Pennyworth), Reggie Long snaps -- at least somewhat -- out of the Rorschach mindset. It allows him the perspective to save Adrian Veidt, a man who he tried to kill in the opening moments of Doomsday Clock #1.
When he returns home, it is implied that Long continues to be Rorschach, but makes the identity his own and takes a more idealistic and less brutal approach.
On Christmas Day, he visits the grave of his old friend Byron Lewis (the former costumed adventurer Mothman), thanking him for the positive impact he had on Reggie's life.
The Marionette and the Mime, two characters created by Johns and Frank for Doomsday Clock, will not return to the Watchmen universe but instead will remain in the DC Universe. They are, once again, pregnant -- this time with a daughter -- and Doctor Manhattan elected to give them a new start so that they could raise the child without running from the law.
This did not change the fact that they wanted to see their son -- the thing that Veidt had promised them in order to draw them into the events of the story to begin with. Their son was taken from them at birth, since they were in prison at the time, and it was only the promise of meeting him that made the pair agree to work with Rorschach II and Veidt.
Doctor Manhattan promised them that they will -- but not in the way they expect.
The son of The Marionette and The Mime was, apparently, raised in his early years by a post-Doomsday Clock Doctor Manhattan, taking cues from the parenting of Jonathan and Matha Kent.
The likely message here is that Jon Osterman was stripped of his humanity and Doctor Manhattan, as the most powerful being on the planet, had no moral compass. As a result, he was repatedly manipulated into doing terrible things that made the world worse. It seems that he has other plans for the child of The Marionette and the Mime.
When the time was right, Manhattan gave the last of his powers to the boy and sent him off to live with Dan and Laurie Hollis (formerly Dan Dreiberg and Laurie Juspeczyk). Arriving on their doorstep with a clean-cut hairstyle, a suit, and Doctor Manhattan's atomic emblem on his forehead, the boy introduces himself...as Clark.
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.
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