Watchmen is perhaps the most lauded comic of all time, and is arguably one of the most important. It's also been a source of almost constant controversy due to DC's now infamous "in perpetuity" contract, which led to the book's creators being cut out of the ownership of the characters they brought to life. So when DC announced they'd be doing a direct sequel to the best-selling maxi-series that would be helmed by one of their most famous writers, Geoff Johns, the comics world was stunned, especially since this book would see the Watchmen collide with the DC Comics Universe. This year at New York Comic Con, we were invited to DC's top secret gallery exhibit of Gary Frank's entire inked first issue where Geoff Johns explained his love for the original book and his vision for Doomsday Clock.
In a New York gallery, hidden behind Nite Owl's iconic flood doors, DC displayed the entire first issue of Doomsday Clock page by page as Johns spoke in depth for the first time about his new book. "I think there's a lot of pressure on this simply because it exists," Johns said, acknowledging the controversy surrounding the idea of a Watchmen sequel. But for the writer, it was the need to tell this story that truly drove his decision. "There was a story to tell—an inkling of an idea with Superman and Dr. Manhattan—that was interesting. It was scary, it was dangerous, and it was sacrilegious in some aspects. I didn't want to disrespect anything, but I had a story to tell."
The chance to work with regular collaborator Gary Frank was also a huge drive for Johns, who clearly adores the artist. "Gary and I, we've worked together on a lot of stuff, and everything I've done with him I'm proud of," Johns said. "I do my best work with him, so I told everybody at DC that ... if Gary doesn't draw this then the book isn't going to happen." Thankfully, Frank was just as excited about the project as Johns was, and after a brief pitch phone call, Doomsday Clock was born.
The pair are fully aware of the weight that Watchmen and its legacy carry, and Johns definitely felt the pressure thereof on his shoulders while working on the book. "I hope that the story we've crafted is one worthy of using some of the characters from Watchmen," Johns said.
The first issue of Doomsday Clock leans heavily into the idea of the heroes we deserve as a society, and whether we actually deserve any at all. "I think it's a theme in humanity," Johns said. "There are days when we wonder, 'Are we worth it?' And I think that's one of the big reasons to contrast Watchmen and DC, because there are these different philosophies if you look at the aggregate of each universe, whether it's those 12 issues or the 75 years of comic books. When you say, 'Kicking and screaming. Because we don't deserve it. Maybe the world should burn this time.' I think that's a question that every normal human has asked themselves."
The new cast of the Watchmen sequel is notably more diverse than its inspiration and predecessor, which was a conscious choice for Johns. "I think the story needs it [and] I think the characters need it," he said. "There's also more to it than that, but it is. The Mime also is Hispanic."
For Johns, one of the most important things is staying true to the political message of the original book. "The scary thing is that I wrote this almost 10 months ago, and some of [these plot points] have come true," he said. "Some of them are just representational of other things going on. The fact that Russia is a threat is not new news, so I can't claim to be prophetic. But I think there's a demand for political content in this kind of story, and to avoid that would be disingenuous while trying to do something with the Watchmen. It's about story structure, thematics. If we're going to do something with the characters, we have to respect the material and where it came from."
How do you feel about Doomsday Clock? Will you be picking up the controversial comic? Are you excited to see the DCU and Watchmen worlds collide? Let us know in the comments!
Images: DC Comics
More on Watchmen!
- Watch the first trailer for Doomsday Clock
- Is Damon Lindelof right for a Watchmen show?
- Dreamcasting the Watchmen TV series