Geoff Johns is easily the most important and influential writer DC Comics has had in the past two decades. His runs on comics like The Flash, Teen Titans, Action Comics, Aquaman, Justice Society of America, and especially Green Lantern are the stuff of comics legend. And his Infinite Crisis and Blackest Night event series are among the best the publisher has ever put out.
After stepping away from writing comics for a bit after the conclusion of his run on Justice League to focus on his duties as CCO of DC Entertainment, Johns is returning to writing comics with the 12-part mini-series Doomsday Clock, which spins out of last year’s DC Rebirth Special and shows the meeting of Superman and Watchmen’s Dr. Manhattan, set one year in the future of the DCU.It was revealed in the Rebirth Special, or at least very heavily implied, that Dr. Manhattan, the godlike character from Alan Moore’s seminal mini-series, as the being responsible for altering the DC Universe into the New 52 version of the DCU – a version that was polarizing among fans, to put it mildly.
But despite the Rebirth Special all but confirming Dr. Manhattan as the architect of the current DCU, this new mini-series almost didn’t come together, and was this close to being totally scrapped. Luckily, Geoff Johns ultimately changed his mind.
While meeting with the press on the DC Entertainment yacht at SDCC, Johns revealed that while he and artist Gary Frank had been set from the very beginning of Rebirth to explain the Dr. Manhattan connection, their initial storyline for Doomsday Clock never quite came together in a way that either Johns of Frank felt worked properly.
“On the set of Wonder Woman, we talked a lot about it,” Johns said. “At the end of the day, we thought, ‘You know what? We’re not going to do it. And then, the election happened. And then other things in the world happened, and it changed. Suddenly, the whole story just jumped into my head, and I called Gary and said, ‘I just have to pitch this to you, because I have this story, and the story is bigger than I thought it was, it’s different than I thought it was, it’s more risky than I thought it was.’”
From that point, Doomsday Clock became a 12 -part series, which will debut in November of this year, with Brian Anderson joining Johns and Frank on the creative team. (You can check out teaser images of their artwork, provided by DC, throughout this article).
“Once I had Gary, and Brian Anderson, I knew we could do the best quality work that we can possibly do. It’s all about the quality of the work and the story. Everything came together. It feels like a story we really want to tell. And you’ll never see a one-shot or a crossover issue where we see Dr. Manhattan fighting the Justice League – it’s just not what the story is about. That’s not what we want to do, we’re not interested in making this a crossover event. ”
In fact, Johns and Gary Frank, longtime collaborators on many titles, were already working on the third volume of their Batman: Earth One series, and were nearly done, when Johns reiterated “We were in the middle of Batman: Earth One Vol. 3, and we were like “OK, let’s put the brakes on that, because we need to tell this story right now. This is the time to do it.”
Doomsday Clock will be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as a sequel to Watchmen, one of the greatest works in comics ever. When asked how he’ll prepare for being judged in terms of following up that iconic series, Johns replied “You just do the best work you can do. I work with the best people I know in comics. And we’ve got a story we believe in, and we tell it. We could shy away from it and not do it. But we believe in it. Just like Rebirth, I didn’t have to do the Rebirth Special either, but I really believed in it, I believed in what the DC Universe was missing, and what I wanted it to have again. So I wrote that issue. And that issue was risky. But I wanted to put the heartbeat back in (the DC Universe).”
“It’s the characters who dictate what we’re doing. But when you read Watchmen, there’s a structure to it, there’s a pacing to it, we’re not trying to replicate and do what they did. And the story we’re telling is a very different story, but it’s certainly a very personal story. And it’s a story about everything – cynicism, opportunity, corruption, lies, and truth. Love, hope, optimism, decay. Are our best days behind us or ahead of us? Do people give up? Is it OK to give up when you give up? All kinds of things about how we’re all feeling.”
Being the continuity nerd that I am, and as much as I’ve loved the “back to our roots” approach DC has taken with their Rebirth titles, I couldn’t help but notice that their current timeline is something of a mess. The Rebirth Special seemed to imply that the crazy continuity was a result of Dr. Manhattan “stealing time” from the DCU. I had to ask whether Doomsday Clock will deal with the currently wonky DCU continuity. Johns confirmed “We’ll clear that stuff up pretty cleanly, but the story isn’t about that.”
“Just the idea of Superman talking to Dr. Manhattan gets me excited.” Johns said. “What does that look like? Their ideologies are so vastly different, and the circumstances we put them in are very interesting. And there’s a hundred layers to this book. Gary Frank is putting everything he’s got into it, and we’re very excited for people to see it. Superman and Doctor Manhattan are the tip of the iceberg. We know we have all these rules, but we’ve got to break a few rules to tell the best story. And I think it’s going to do more than people think, and be different than people think. I hope it surprises people in a really good way.”
Doomsday Clock will hit comics shops on Wednesday, November 22.
Are you excited about the DCU and the world of Watchmen meeting at last? Be sure to let us know down below in the comments.
Images: DC Comics