When last we left off, Dr. Manhattan was unstoppable and the world was plunging into chaos with very few heroes able to protect it. It didn’t look good for the DC Universe. After a major slew of delays, DC seems to have finally shaped up and have put out Doomsday Clock #12. To celebrate we’re recapping issues 10 & 11 so you can catch up and then go buy issue 12.
We open up issue 10 with Carver Coleman, the actor from the noir movies that have been playing in the background of the entire series. He’s taking a break from shooting his last movie “The Adjournment” to think about his life and how he’s gotten to where he is and also about his mother blackmailing him about a secret he’s harboring. We bounce back to 1952 to see him win an Oscar and then forward a few days where he’s dead. This is definitely a Dr. Manhattan issue, so maybe we’ll get some explanation about how he changed the universe. Dr. Manhattan recalls the scattered moments that lead him to this Earth, his creation, his discussion with Silk Spectre II on Mars, his fight with the DC Heroes last issue and his final moments from the end of Watchmen.
Why are we focusing on Carver Coleman? Well, for one, he’s the POV character, but mostly because he’s Doctor Manhattan’s best friend. I’ll explain.
A young Carver, recently fired from his job at the big studio, is homeless and jobless. Things aren’t going too well for Carver as the police beat the shit out of him for being a vagrant. All of that changes with the arrival of Dr. Manhattan though. This is actually Dr. M’s first appearance in a universe not his own, so he spends a few minutes taking it all in. Jon takes a liking to Carver and decides to use his perception of time to help Carver become a Hollywood success. This conversation is interrupted by a radio broadcast of the coming of Superman. It’s Action Comics #1 Superman with Kal-El holding the car over his head. Doctor Manhattan heads over to the famous scene of the aforementioned comic’s cover, where his fascination of this Earth’s superheroes and more specifically the Man of Steel, begins.
Superman (both in the comic universe and in reality) is the superhero progenitor, meaning all superheroes can be dated back to him. He basically created a ripple effect of capes and tights. After he lifted that car over his head, Alan Scott survived a train crash, found a lantern and became the Green Lantern. Jay Garrick became the Flash. Al Pratt became the Atom. Kent Nelson finds the helm of Nabu and became Doctor Fate, etc, etc, and in short the rest of the world’s first superheroes come about. The Justice Society is created.
As we get to see the official formation of the JSA, something strange happens. As they’re waiting for Superman to come and join them for the official pictures, all of a sudden Superman doesn’t exist. Doctor Manhattan takes note of this and sees Kal-El’s arrival on Earth occurring later, in 1954 (Silver Age Continuity). This is all due to an outside force tampering with the universe, which will later be found to be Crisis on Infinite Earths. Superman’s first appearance changes from 1938 to 1956, not just on this Earth but throughout the Multiverse. Dr. Manhattan sees how Superman’s life progresses through the Original, pre-Crisis, and Post Crisis timelines. From this he learns how to manipulate the universe, through Superman. Is Superboy with the Legion of Superheroes in the 31st Century? Not after Dr. Manhattan moves Alan Scott’s Lantern. As he sees the reaction of the universe to his actions, he realizes it’s the reaction of the Metaverse. Change takes hold once again for the Man of Steel as the good Doctor creates the New 52 timeline, where the Kents die on Clark’s prom night in a car accident and he becomes Superman with the Kryptonian armor and popped collar. He makes it a darker timeline with a Superman and a world he can relate to. As Dr. Manhattan changes the Metaverse, there is domino effect upon domino effect. The Metaverse takes notice in the form of Wally West, the original Kid Flash / Second Flash, warning him of how the heroes will stop his tampering.
It’s at this point that Dr. M realizes he’s the bad guy in an indirect way at the very least. He is a man of inaction. He didn’t stop Carver from being killed by his mom, or the Comedian from killing his baby mama in Vietnam. He let Adrian Viedt walk free from his actions in the original series. He’s become truly a man of inaction and in this universe of hope, it’s only a matter of time before he clashes with a man of action or a “man of steel”.
In issue 11 the DC Universe is still in chaos with protests across the USA and a gang war between Joker and Marionette & Mime. The president announced that he’ll be relying on nukes with the absence of a conscious Superman. With the brink of nuclear war and Russia pressuring the US to hand over Superman to answer for his “crimes” back in issue 8, Batman averts it by breaking the hands that turn the keys. This all occurs while Ozymandias watches from afar and Wonder Woman gets her butt kicked by Black Adam and his cadre of metahumans. The Amazons come to her rescue and retrieve her.
Lex Luthor decides to fill Lois Lane in on what’s been happening throughout the series. Lex tells Lois of Ozymandias, his backstory (so basically Watchmen), the failed assassination attempt of Lex and what Ozy wants to do with this world. He moves from that to making some discoveries on his own about the events of this series, as well as the chronal / multiversal disturbances that have been happening on this Earth. They seem to have all manifested as the same thing: the photo of Jon Osterman (pre-Doctor Manhattan) and his first love Janey Slater from the night at the carnival back in the 50's. One was found with Carver Coleman’s personal belongings, left with him in the 30's when Jon and Carver first met. Lex found another when he was researching the night that Wally West came back from the speed force and back into continuity or DC Universe: Rebirth #1. The thing with these photos is that they are the same photo showing up at different points in time and whoever created them (Doctor Manhattan) hasn’t realized he left them behind. Thus, the universe isn’t a constant and therefore the Metaverse isn’t a constant.
We take a break from the main plot and check in with Alfred and his attempt to get Reggie Long a.k.a. Rorschach II to come back to the Batcave to help find Ozymandias and prove Superman innocent. Reggie’s not having any of it, rejects his role in any of this issue and runs away
We shift focus to Ozymandias explaining his evil plan (phase by phase) to Saturn Girl. He explains how his original plan was to talk Doctor Manhattan into coming back to their Earth and preventing its annihilation. Instead he began to think that Jon probably wouldn’t listen to him after their last talk at the end of Watchmen. He uses Marionette and Mime, whose previous relationship to Dr. M had a calming effect on him. This is also where it’s revealed that their child was adopted by the Hollises back in the Watchmen Universe. Ozymandias, with Reggie, Marionette and Mime in tow, sets a course for our Earth. Once there he finds that the world is so full of metahumans that Doctor Manhattan would never want to leave an Earth he can relate to. In Phase 3, Ozymandias hears about the Supermen Theory and uses it to turn the world against Superman. He manipulates the events in issue eight and nine causing the explosion at Red Square to make Superman look bad and send the heroes to Mars to be defeated by Dr. Manhattan.
Ozymandias has basically set the stage for Superman to fight Doctor Manhattan. Saturn Girl’s response to this is that Superman will win because she’s from the future therefore his victory ensures a tomorrow. Ozymandias counters that with the fact that, yes, she is from forward in time, but not from this timeline. He asks “If Superman is so important to your existence, why doesn’t he remember you?” With that, Saturn Girl disappears from the time stream. The issue comes to an end with Superman coming to stop Black Adam before he can do any more damage but getting thrown across town right into Doctor Manhattan.
So a lot happened over these two issues. I’ll try to be concise but informative when giving you my thoughts.
Issue 10 was fantastic! It replaced issue 9 as my favorite of the series so far. The introduction of the Metaverse as a concept in the DC Universe is an awesome addition to all that’s going on with this book. It’s also a great explanation to the constant changes to Earth Prime and the Multiverse as a whole. It reminds me of when they introduced hyper-time back in the 90s during The Kingdom. In short it’s like having a multiverse without having a multiverse by saying all timelines overlap at times, like the tributaries of a river. I like the idea of the multiple eras of DC being affected like ripples in a pool of water. I also like the idea that the New 52 / current DC timeline is a result of Doctor Manhattan tampering with the Metaverse to make it more like the dark and gritty universe he’s accustomed to. Getting to see the effects of Dr. Manhattan messing with it was probably the best part of the issue. Moving from continuity to continuity based on Superman’s origin, the formation of the JSA changing on that (which mirrors the publicity shoots for both Minutemen groups a bit), the adventures of Superboy and the Legion being wiped away in an instant and the varying deaths of the Kents is all very cool and interesting. Geoff Johns and Gary Frank are still bringing their met-A-game to this series!
Verdict: 9.5/10 Multiverses in the Metaverse
With issue 11 I did have a few minor complaints. While it felt a little rushed, I didn’t find myself completely thrown back and forth with the narrative. This entire issue seemed to be split between exposition and filler, not that it was entirely useless but it just seemed like it was making us wait for the big confrontation between Dr. Manhattan and Superman. The answer to the mystery behind Marionette and Mime’s child was a bit underwhelming. I guess he’s dead now anyway if he was on the Watchmen Earth. Ozymandias’ “but it was I!” monologue was expected and informative, at least to who was really behind the Moscow explosion and sending the heroes to their defeat on Mars. The disappearance of Saturn Girl right after Ozymandias made it known that she wasn’t from this timeline was a bit weird.
On one hand, the ever changing nature of the newly introduced Metaverse justifies the wiping of a timeline to be replaced by another. A Superman that doesn’t remember the Legion would mean a future without the Legion (or a different future where Legion members / Saturn Girl haven’t met Superman). Yet, time traveling is also just moving between universes which wouldn’t justify being dust in the wind. I really don’t know. Overall, this comic was good but at times a bit underwhelming. It’s by no means a bad or mediocre issue but it’s not beaten by any of the previous issues. Gary Frank’s art is still on point.
Verdict: 7/10 Time Displaced Carnival Pictures