The highly anticipated panel, Doomsday Clock, moderated by author of The Magicians, Lev Grossman, with Geoff Johns as the guest has come and gone—to sum it up in a word: wow! We’ve known, since the launch of Rebirth, that the Watchmen character, Doctor Manhattan has done something to the DC Universe; with nods and follow-ups throughout DC’s titles. But come November, when Doomsday Clock is set to debut, will fully explore that idea with Johns and Gary Frank’s twelve issue series. The new limited series title has been kept secretive… until NYCC 2017.
While the panel was about Doomsday Clock, it was also a love letter to the original Watchmen; both Grossman and Johns being influenced by it. The two chat about their connections to Watchmen and its importance on the comic book industry, the idea of intersecting the worlds of Watchmen and the DC Universe, Johns love of challenges and more.
‘DOOMSDAY CLOCK’ PANEL RECAP
As Grossman took the stage, he asked the fans if they were “ready to watch two introverted middle-aged men stare at their phones.” He then gave a quick biography of Johns before officially bringing him out onto the stage.
“This is a nice big room for a comic book,” Johns commented as he walked onto the stage. Before getting in the thick of it, Johns told fans in attendance that they would get an ashcan comic with the first six pages to Doomsday Clock #1 and additional promotional items for the book—these would be exclusive to the panel. “So, if you really need money, you can go to eBay,” Johns joked with the crowd.
Kicking off the discussion about Watchmen, Grossman ask Johns when was the first time he read the influential book. “I was, uh, 12”, Johns answered. Grossman responded with, “12… That’s almost too young for Watchmen. There’s a lot of glowing blue penis in Watchmen. It’s a little early for that.”
Both Grossman and Johns shared how the book was an intense look at comics. “The mid-80’s for DC was a really crazy time. There was nothing else like it at the time. The impression it’s had on readers and creators is undeniable,” says Johns.
CROSSING THE UNIVERSES
When asked about ever previously thinking about intersecting the world of Watchmen and the rest of the DC Universe, Johns says:
“I actually never thought about it until a year-and-a-half ago when I was writing the Rebirth special. I started to think about, for me, DC has always been about heart, heroes and humanity. It felt like some of the humanity had been ripped away from the books. Superman was kind of my center character. Who would have the power, the inclination — the curiosity — to remove that humanity from the DC Universe? And have the ability to do that? Doctor Manhattan and Superman, you’ve got one that’s an alien, that’s probably the most human of superheroes. And you’ve got one that’s a human, and is probably the most alien of all superhumans. I thought, wow; a conversation between those two would be amazing. It’s a scary idea. Back then, all I was going to do is hint at it.”
Both Johns and Gary Frank were on the same page, not wanting to work on this story unless they knew they had something. They talked about the initial story while in London, on the set of Wonder Woman. And it wasn’t until after the 2016 United States Presidential election that everything clicked for Johns. He called Frank and then they were off to the races. “But it’s taken a while, and it’s taken a while to write, because there is so much internal pressure and so much external pressure,” Johns explains.
Johns was ready to show off the first six pages, unlettered, of Doomsday Clock #1, offering tidbits of information about what’s going on in each panel and page.
The first page shows protests and riots outside of Ozymandias’ building, with the narrator setting things up for us. It’s November of 1992—offering how much time has passed since the end of Watchmen—but he’s unsure of the actual day. The narrator is unhappy the direction the world has taken; a world without a god… without Doctor Manhattan.
Page two shows news reports of a world that’s heading into a bleak direction.
On page three, inside Ozymandias building, we see he is a wanted man. He’s murdered three million people.
Page four shows soldiers searching Ozymandias building, looking for the Ozymandias himself. All they find is an image of an x-ray with a tumor on the brain.
The fifth page shows the news declaring the nuclear war is imminent, while also showing the inside of a prison. A prisoner grabs a guard, while an unseen figure grabs the keys off the guard.
The final page reveals Rorschach, which gets a huge reaction out of the audience.
The entire panel, from start to finish, is an enlightening experience for anyone that considers themselves a comic book fan. It’s a brief history lesson that also teases the next DC Comics event, and although Alan Moore may not be onboard with the project, it looks like Johns is going to honor that original story while breaking boundaries.
Images courtesy of DC Comics.