With the reveal of DC Comics’ Doomsday Clock comic, we now know that Geoff Johns’ ongoing Watchmen-join-the-DCU story will lead to a showdown between Doctor Manhattan and Superman. While that’s an exciting confrontation to nerdebate, the best part of this news was writer Johns explaining how this will be a standalone story with no crossovers or any of that other nonsense, not unlike the original Watchmen.
Yes, doing any sort of follow-up to Watchmen in the first place is sacrilege when you consider how Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal work was only ever meant to exist as a dark examination of the superhero genre, and therefore continuing the story in any capacity flies in the face of its very existence. It was hard not to feel that way when 2012’s Before Watchmen was announced, giving us a wide array of prequels that no one asked for. Yet as they began to roll out, we got a few exemplary standouts — most notably Darwyn Cooke’s retro and tragic Minutemen — and it was hard not to admit that maybe, just maybe, continuing to make Watchmen comics wasn’t the worst idea in the world.
After all, where would we be if all great comic ideas started and stopped with their original creators? Successful superhero comics have long been (and will forever be) a relay race where one creative team hands the baton off to the next, over and over again. That’s why we’ll literally be getting new Batman and Spider-Man comics until the world ends. Watchmen is inescapably a part of that never-ending comics marathon. As Doctor Manhattan himself said at the conclusion of the original story, “In the end? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.”
Batman discovering the Comedian’s signature button in the Batcave was a huge talking point coming out of Johns’ DC Universe Rebirth story last year. It was a small tease that, in effect, blamed DC’s misguided changes of the New 52 on an attack orchestrated by Doctor Manhattan. Fast forward to this week where we saw the last chapter of the four-part Batman/Flash team-up “The Button” investigating that bloody button, which resulted in a few big answers and a lot more complex questions (as these things are wont to do). Considering how big this story is — a godlike being who hates pants is causing harm with his experiments on the universe and DC’s greatest detectives must join forces to figure out his master plan — it’s been refreshing to see it not made into an overdone spectacle and instead left as a compact, exciting mystery that’s easy to follow (well, as far as comic books go).
Pitting Doctor Manhattan against Superman could be nothing more than a dumb battle where they…