It's shocking, we know, but apparently Final Crisis will not be the final Crisis event at DC Comics. Ignoring the fact that Convergence was, for all intents and purposes, a Crisis on Infinite Earths sequel and that the publisher cashed in on the "Crisis" brand with Heroes in Crisis earlier this year, the final issue of Doomsday Clock -- DC's sequel to Watchmen from writer Geoff Johns, artist Gary Frank, and colorist Brad Anderson -- revealed that there will be something on the horizon called a "Secret Crisis." Whether this is something Johns himself will be working on is not clear. While he often sets up stories that he himself will pay off (like seeding Blackest Night in the final pages of "The Sinestro Corps War"), his reduced role at DC in the last couple of years might see him hand it off.
...Heck, Brian Michael Bendis has some history with big event stories that have "Secret" in the title, and now that he's at DC, maybe he can work with Johns on whatever the Crisis is. Which...well, we don't know a ton.
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 idea of a "Secret Crisis" is the one that is maybe most in keeping with the reinvention of DC's multiverse and its history that is a big part of Doomsday Clock's apparent mission statement.
Each of the reboots in the DC Universe, even the minor ones that just shift the timeline forward, all exist in service of making sure that the universe will always have a Superman, according to Doomsday Clock. And in the spirit of that, Doctor Manhattan looks forward and sees not just the Secret Crisis, but another one that hasn't yet got a name. Each of them have huge implications for the DC Universe and for readers.
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 hard to ignore some of that stuff -- obviously the "Secret Crisis" is intended to be a Marvel/DC crossover with The Hulk dying to save Superman. But even the other Crises -- including the one supposedly coming in 2020 -- feel like they have the potential to be massive. And 2020 is rumored to see the start of DC's "5G" publishing initiative, which will feature younger and more diverse versions of classic superheroes. It seems those characters will have their own world to inhabit.
Needless to say, this issue has a lot to unpack.
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.