Could Superman square off against two of Marvel's most popular characters? That seems to be what Doomsday Clock #12 is teasing. On sale today, the final issue of the series -- a DC-sanctioned sequel to Watchmen from writer Geoff Johns, artist Gary Frank, and colorist Brad Anderson -- sets up a lot of story for the future. So much that it's basically impossible that Johns himself will tackle all of it...and uncertain that some of it will ever come to pass at all. That is probably where this story comes in, since what Doctor Manhattan sees would take more energy than just rebuilding a universe; it would require DC and Marvel to cooperate again.
In the issue, Doctor Manhattan sees a future where Superman does battle with some familiar figures. But not familiar from the DC Universe, but rather from Earth-616 (we're guessing).
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, the one that is most likely to generate some buzz among fans is an allusion to a crossover between Superman, Thor, and the Incredible Hulk.
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."
There are a few reasons to suspect that this is unlikely to happen -- or at least unlikely to happen with the actual Marvel characters, as opposed to copycat versions used to tell a specific story. First off, the Hulk is never going to die in an inter-company crossover. In fact, inter-company crossovers at Marvel basically never happen anymore, with brass at the publisher admitting that they make fans excited and generate some sales and revenue...but that once you're done sharing that money with the other publisher, you would have been better off to just make an exciting book off your own instead and kept all of it.
Still, fans are likely to be excited to read this, and it's plausible that some version of the story could come to pass. If there was anybody who could get DC and Marvel to play nice, it's probably Geoff Johns and Brian Michael Bendis, who together have written many of the biggest crossover events of the last two decades.
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.