Monday, October 1, 2018

Doomsday Clock 7

Something big happened. Now that Doomsday Clock begins its second half, some of the key meetings have taken place and the biggest one yet to come – Superman facing Dr. Manhattan in battle – has appeared in Dr. Manhattan's future-vision.

Early on, Johns added detail to the backstory of how Dr. Manhattan changed the DCU by deleting the Alan Scott Green Lantern from its history; this is something I sketched out in my review of DC #3 as matching "the subplot of a JLA/JSA crossover in which an evil Johnny Thunder on Earth One used the Thunderbolt to prevent the Justice League from existing." Just as the Thunderbolt in that story prevented, for example, the lightning that gave Barry Allen from striking his lab, Dr. Manhattan in this story prevented Alan Scott from obtaining his lantern (and, moreover, causing his death). We can be sure that most if not all JSAers were similarly interfered with.

With a scene that looked almost literally like a set stage, DC #7 was centered around a group meeting (after a brief, frantic battle) that put Mime, Marionette, the Comedian, New Rorschach, Veidt, Batman, and the Joker together with Dr. Manhattan. And what followed was, for the most part, talk. In the meantime, Dr. Manhattan teleported the Watchmen Universe members of the group to three different times and places, as significant backdrops of relevance that was not stated directly. First, they go to an idyllic nature scene by a waterfall. Then, to an anti-superhero riot at night in Washington, D.C. Finally, they enter a movie theatre in 1954, terrifying the audience seeing the final Nathaniel Dusk film, The Adjournment. And during this time, with a lot of talking and a couple of one-sided fist-fights, something big happens. What is not immediately clear is: What is that something big?

Dr. Manhattan says "No" to Veidt's request. That happens immediately, and seems obviously irrevocable. There is a little more discussion, including the revelation that Veidt was lying about his brain cancer in order to manipulate Reggie into assisting him. (In retrospect, this was foreshadowed by the Veidt jigsaw puzzle that Reggie was working a couple of issues ago. In one frame, Veidt's head had a piece missing. Then Reggie put the correct piece in place and said that it was in front of him the whole time.)

But this is a big scene for some reason besides those. We know this because when Veidt returns to the Owlship, he believes that he no longer needs Dr. Manhattan's help, and that he has a plan to save everybody. These thoughts frighten Saturn Girl, who believed at the beginning of the issue that everything would turn out fine, but at the end believes that Veidt's new plan will ruin everything. This is yet another turn in her demeanor as seen during "The Button" and makes the details of her mental state an important part of the picture.

Why? Whatever Dr. Manhattan said or did changed Veidt's plan is the mystery in front of us the whole time. It was cryptic for us, and we know things that most of the characters don't. We know that the Nathaniel Dusk movies are tied in some way to the JSA-era superheroes, but Veidt presumably does not know that. So what did Dr. Manhattan say that instantly changed Veidt's worldview?

Dr. Manhattan says a few things with a lot of implications, and some pithy but key statements of his concern the two children of Mime and Marionette. Those statements tell us a lot and tell Veidt a lot, too, but not necessarily the same things. First, we find out that Marionette is pregnant again, which means that the child was conceived in the past few hours in the DCU. Second, we find out that their first child will do or has done something that is so significant to Dr. Manhattan that it is for that child's sake that he spared Marionette's life during the bank robbery we saw in DC #2.

If the information that suddenly changes Veidt's worldview is this, then why? Very likely, because Veidt has some reason to suspect that that child would not have a valuable future ahead of him. And we can guess at several reasons why. First, there was a nuclear war happening on the Watchmen Earth when last we saw it, and that is reason enough. Perhaps Veidt even knows from the child's location that he is dead due to the nuclear attack. Also, the photo of the child that New Rorschach gave to Marionette was "a few years old": Perhaps the child died between 1987 and 1992. In any of these scenarios, Dr. Manhattan's statement may give Veidt hope that the entire timeline can be altered. And therefore, it gives Veidt hope that the past can be changed for the better. This is likely the information and motive behind his current plan.

Dr. Manhattan's comments and thoughts also tell us a lot about Dr. Manhattan's plan. First, we find out that he prevented the rise of the JSA through the murder of Alan Scott. In the same passage, introducing the issue, we find out that one of the events in Alan Scott's timeline of which Dr. Manhattan was aware was the JSA's surrender to HUAC, causing the superheroes of the DCU to disappear. Second, we find out that he was greatly dispirited by the death of Colman Carver, which led him to say that his comment at the end of Watchmen was wrong, and that "Nothing ever ends" has been replaced in his worldview by "Everything ends." Why? The connection here likely lies in the inconspicuous details of DC #3's end notes about Colman Carver and a simple panel at the beginning of that issue. According to those references, the screenwriter of Carver's 1947 movie went to prison for refusing to cooperate with HUAC. This was in fact a real man, Ring Lardner, Jr. who really was imprisoned and then blacklisted from Hollywood just as the fictional DC #3 says. Why include this information? This is likely the key as to why Johns has included the Colman Carver subplot in Doomsday Clock. Knowing that HUAC exists in the current DCU timeline, we also know that the same threat that caused the JSA to retire was not dissipated by Dr. Manhattan's alteration to the timeline entailed by the death of Alan Scott. We now know that killing Alan Scott was not a petty or malevolent act on Dr. Manhattan's part, but a calculated one intended to bring about a positive outcome. And this tells us a lot about Dr. Manhattan's and Johns' intentions:

The notion of an entire generation of Golden Age heroes retiring due to pressure from HUAC was introduced in 1979 as I noted in my review of DC #4. This is an idea that Alan Moore copied in Watchmen, with Hooded Justice retiring (like Alan Scott) and Mothman (a major focus of that issue) ending up in a sanatorium (like Lardner). Mothman remembers this when, after Veidt's scheme killing millions is revealed, he says "They're rounding them up" in reference to the events of 1992. Mothman remembers when his generation, also, was rounded up.

And Dr. Manhattan remembers, too. He was discouraged by the lack of hope in both the Watchmen and post-Infinite Crisis DCU timelines entailed by the surrender of the heroes to the political pressures of their respective times. Removing Alan Scott prevented the JSA from existing, and therefore from surrendering to HUAC. But the death of Colman Carver extinguished the hope that Dr. Manhattan found in that. Why? Here, I see two possibilities, not mutually exclusive. One, based on no more information than an offhand comment early in DC #3, that Carver was regarded by Johnny Thunder's fellow inmate Donald as a hero suggests that Carver resisted the political pressures but remained working and in fact subsequently won an Oscar. A second, as I mentioned earlier, is that Carver actually is one of the would-be JSAers, likely Hourman (obsessed with clocks), and his movies had inspired positive heroism, until his death (being beaten to death with his own trophy like Watchmen's original Nite Owl).

And this tells us what is driving Dr. Manhattan. He, too, is driven by hope. He has been altering the timeline of the DCU, trying to achieve a more hopeful outcome. He deleted Alan Scott's Green Lantern career, trying to prevent the surrender of the JSA (which resembled a sad occurrence on his own world), but it didn't work, culminating with the death of Colman Carver. And now, he is seeing how the events finally play out, with Superman, the current symbol of hope, in some future act of war against Dr. Manhattan himself. This is fated to fail, and at that point, Dr. Manhattan ends the current timeline. The post-Flashpoint DCU is an experiment that Dr. Manhattan is running and he (and Johns) deem it a failure, set to end a month from now. The now-explicable scene at the end of DC #1 showing the deaths of the Kents shows another Dr. Manhattan-triggered tragedy that edited the timeline for the sake of an experiment that turned out tragic. When Dr. M (and Johns) give up on the current timeline, some version of the previous timeline, with Alan Scott living and the JSA existing will prevail. And, by implication, we will also get the Kents back. The fistfight between Superman and Dr. Manhattan will not end with the punch making contact, but with the implied sense of malaise leading the entire timeline to come to a dour close.

In the background, another, probably far less consequential mystery concerns the "identity" of Dr. Manhattan in the DCU. We get three clues. One, Dr. Manhattan himself says that he thought he "might find a place among" the DCU. Two, he says that he stood (physically) on the set of The Adjournment in 1954. Third, Bubastis' eyes glow when he is staring in the direction of The Comedian. I don't see a clear resolution behind all these details, but I do see a misdirection. Veidt believes that his cat responds to The Comedian, but New Bubastis already faced The Comedian and had no such response in DC #3. Either the trace of Dr. Manhattan on The Comedian's body happened after that or Bubastis isn't responding to The Comedian at all but to the man who happens to be standing behind him – The Joker. But we see The Joker still standing there after Dr. Manhattan manifests, so The Joker can't be him, as I postulated earlier, but is possibly "on" him in some fashion, or has left his trace there. I don't see how the details shake out yet, but there is some connection between the old movie set (predating most or all of our current DCU adults) and The Comedian and/or The Joker.

Still, whatever the small details, the large details are now apparent. We know Dr. Manhattan's actions and motives and where they lead. We also know that Veidt has a different plan and it isn't the one that Saturn Girl is hoping for, no doubt leading to her horror in the opening scenes of "The Button." Veidt's new plan is supposed to fail, then, and hope lies elsewhere.

And on the note of hope, the theme I mentioned earlier is emphasized once again: Batman comes across very poorly in DC #7. Although he manages to show his competence in battle, it is with mixed results, as he is injured by Marionette and then sucker-zapped by The Joker. Dr. Manhattan takes us to an anti-Batman riot in Washington and, though Batman is the last man standing after the fistfights of DC #7, he comes across as a mere brawler achieving temporary victories while Superman is "the most hopeful." Veidt, Dr. Manhattan, and Johns are all seeking hope. And we hear again and again that Batman is not it; Superman is.



31 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great analysis as usual Rikdad. I loved the issue. So far this is a worthy sequel to Watchmen. I don't think we are done yet with John's referendum on Batman. The "I know you are" moment spoke to something about Batman and his drive. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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  2. Deleting Alan as Green Lantern is part of Jon's testing. The JSA wasn't deleted but molded into a covert group. Thunder remembers the JS but no Alan. Most of the other members showed up recently, Jay, Hawkman, Dr.Fate etc.

    Johnny whisked the more humans ones away, this will be a way to keep them young. Most of the post war adventures certainly didn't happen. The JSA certainly has not been around these past years and never been public known. This keeps JL as the first team public known, while JSA as the first unknown. Have it both ways.

    DC obviously wants Hal as Earth's only first human lantern. While Jessica as Earth's first female human lantern replacing Jade. Would be interesting Jade and Baz had Molly Mayne as their mother but no Alan as their dad.

    Pre flashpoint won't be reverted fully, curse of Shazam looks to stay.

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  3. Eric, thanks. I might have added one concern I had about the issue, which is that Veidt's "I have a plan" moment, looking into the camera, felt like a heavy-handed "This is a villain" moment a la Alex Luthor and Superboy Prime. But so far the series has been very strong, and I won't hiss at anything until it's played out.

    Maybe there's a twist coming concerning Batman, although the message has felt fairly consistent and somewhat unnuanced so far. Batman has made many miscalculations in this series and it'll take a sharp turn in the next five issues to redeem him.

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  4. Bobby,
    Thanks for comments of such breadth, summarizing the way the JSA has shown up so far. I'm unclear on how much an eventual timeline tweak might keep or discard the details before us in the Rebirth timeline, but I like your suggestion of a timeline in which they existed but behind the scenes, much as Johns has retconned Superman's Superboy career.

    I would enjoy seeing a series of adventures showing the JSA heroes in covert WW2-era anti-espionage, etc. action.

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  5. To me, the biggest thing that happened in this issue is Batman saying “I know who you are”. Dr Manhattan looks shocked by the comment. Actually, I’m shocked you haven’t made a big deal about it or speculated on it.

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  6. Interesting comment, Eddie. You're making me consider/question something that I hadn't, that Batman's comment meant that he knew who, in the DCU, Dr. Manhattan was, or something similarly above and beyond what we see.

    My interpretation of the comment was that because he had read Rorschach's journal, Batman knew the identify of Dr. Manhattan, something known to everyone in the Watchmen Universe but nobody (until this week) in the DC Universe. If he meant the latter, then the comment is not remarkable at all, and Batman knows nothing that we don't know.

    But if he meant he knows of Dr. M's identity equalling that of someone else, it might be remarkable.

    As I said here and in a previous post, there are reasons to suspect that Dr. Manhattan is somehow aligned (I mean this in a more or less spatial sense) with the Joker. There are also minor hints pointing to all of these: Harvey Dent, Mr. Freeze, Lex Luthor, J'onn J'onzz, and perhaps especially Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt. But there's also the 1954 comment, which doesn't sit very well with any of those. JJ also had some comments in a recent issue of Superman that seemed intriguing in this light.

    Besides hints in the story, it seems potentially meaningless who Dr. Manhattan is or was, and no reason to suspect that he hasn't been multiple entities and/or a disembodied spirit observing and acting largely unseen.

    Batman's comment could be an important clue, but as far as I can see right now, that's an "if" on top of other ifs. Most of those suspects wouldn't have been alive in 1954, and Batman shouldn't know about Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt in this timeline. But… it's interesting, isn't it?

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  7. I'll add one more hypothesis which is purely fishing, but intriguing: What if Marionette and Mime's child is Adrian Veidt, after some time travel via Dr. M?

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  8. Dr.M has something related to Carver Colman. It's playing out like the pirate comic link.

    Mime's Child has to be the reverse of what happened in Watchmen with Comedian and Silk. Guess which person besides Joker showed up a lot?

    Dr.M did kill the kents as hinted. That's enough for Superman to rage.

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    1. Bobby, right on about the Kents.

      As I broke down in another post, I think the Colman films relate to the main plot here much more than Black Freighter did to Watchmen.

      Who showed up a lot – you mean throughout this story? Are you guessing that the Comedian is M&M's child?

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    2. The kid is now someone from the DC universe. Dr.M probably took the kid as well and it's now a adult in the DC Universe

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  9. Just spitballing here, and I know we don't have all the information yet, but is there any possibility that Dr. Manhattan himself is responsible for Carver Colman's murder? We know he was physically there... but was he a fly on the wall or did he do something akin to what he did with Alan Scott?

    I'm thinking of all the things Dr. Manhattan prevented from happening (as seen in "the Button")... the original JLA formation following the Appellaxian affair, Identity Crisis mind-wipes and Sue's rape, and Barry dying during the original Crisis. Add to this his saving Jor-El's life as another major action. Causing the death of Alan Scott in 1940 (along with taking Jay and Yz off the playing field) is the first major action undertaken by Dr. Manhattan on the timeline—an action that erased a generation of superheroes. Couldn't a similar action in 1954 ensure the erasure of another possible generation of heroes? Was Dr. Manhattan dispirited BECAUSE Colman was killed OR because HE HAD to kill Colman in order to bring about a positive outcome.

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    1. Colin, interesting drama in human terms, but for Dr. Manhattan they would be pretty equivalent. Whatever killed Colman, he could have prevented it, a la Blake's speech to him in Vietnam: "You could have turned the bottle to snowflakes," etc. I'm not sure why, in a time travel scenario, Dr. M would be unable to tailor things exactly the way he wants, but it looks like he's facing some very restrictive rules.

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  10. The stuff from button is more of Pandora changes, Dr.M only nips stuff. He can travel more freely in the DC universe though. But because he is party all detrimental, his choices in changes are permanent. He stopped Alan, Killed the Kents.

    Jay already mentioned he had a post war career. ( You know me Barry) He probably just kept the JSA under wraps due to gov't mandated no disclosure rules.

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    1. Wait so the "decade of stolen time" and all the lost pre-Flashpoint imagery in hypertime from "The Button" were merely references to Pandora rebooting the DCU and not to Dr. Manhattan's meddling? Dr. Manhattan did save Jor-El, though, right?

      I guess I'm confused as to how much Pandora did vs how much Dr. Manhattan did... Clearly she built a DCU with a JSA only for Manhattan to erase that. But how do we know WHAT PARTS of the OTHER missing/altered stuff is a result of Pandora's rewrites vs Manhattan's?

      (While Manhattan clearly seems to outweigh Pandora, this is a case of dual demiurges, stepping on each other's creative toes, hence the confusion!)

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    2. Dr.M did delete and move stuff but it's mostly taking people off the board. Alan is dead by his meddling. Stolen time is removing people and their relationships from forming, like the every sec is a gift thing alluded.

      Pandora effects are inserting stuff or altering origins, adding Wildstorm and vertigo changed parts around. That's more likely to effect jla origins and ic. Because most of the key players still joined, nothing is really deleted but replaced. Ted not dying in Inifinte Crisis is her work.

      What Dr.M does is prevent things rather than change. But his effects are more latched on, he is an anchor.

      Dr.M killed pandora when her work was done. But her Nu 52 Superman was undone.

      Tldr version is Pandora alters, Dr.M removes.

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  11. First thanks as always, Rikdad. Every post is filled with revelations. So is the comments section!

    I find the idea that DM could have been Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt pretty great. I love the notion the T-bolt insisted on being told what to do and even sort of how to do it as a way of Doctor Manhattan testing humanity through Johnny Thunder. And doing it all with such a smile.

    And then abandoning him and disregarding his cries. That's some heavy stuff. I like the suggestion of Doctor Manhattan as Johnny's T-bolt.

    As for Batman's "I know who you are," I neither took it to mean "I read Rorschach's journal so I know who are you to these people from another world" nor to mean "I know your other identity in the DCU."

    I took it to mean he knows who he is in the way that he knows what he's done to the DCU, that he was the one that stole time and relationships. I read it more as "I know who you are and what you've done to us."

    And, based on The Button and on any other detective work he's done as a result of knowing about the missing time, I'd think that the most likely thing for him to know.

    Of course he recognizes him from Rorschach's journal so if that's what's meant I don't find his comment very meaningful.

    If he knows what DM has done to the DCU (he's a great detective; maybe he even knows specifically what he's done by now, including even maybe messing with the JSA), he may indeed be redeemed.

    It seems ideal to me that the series would end with not only Superman as the great character of hope but with the entire DCU at its best. So even if Batman's a problem now, and the series says he is surprisingly blatantly when Veidt accuses him of being demonstrative of all that's gone wrong and going wrong in the DCU, it seems like he has to come out of this in a brighter light.

    One way for him to do that would be to use his detective skills, his human detective skills, to figure out a thing that no inhuman meta or hero could. Maybe that's how he redeems himself.

    I don't typically need a happy ending and I usually don't even want one. I usually find them too easy when compared to the real lives stories seek to represent and prefer sad endings or at least complicated ones.

    Here we seem to have a morality tale about how the DCU "should" be in order to be heroic and good. My greatest hope for the series is that it will continue to surprise and delight and challenge me. My second greatest hope is that it will restore every great character to their best selves.

    The idea of the non-meta members of the JSA being put away somewhere that they wouldn't age feels like part and parcel with that.

    Probably I'm all wrong. Mostly I'm just here to say thanks.

    What a rich experience it's been reading this series. It's made so incredibly much richer for your posts, Rikdad. Thanks for them.

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    1. BatmanJones, thanks and great points. That is a more complete and likely interpretation of Batman's comment. I think if Johns downgrades Batman implicitly, it won't have much impact on what other writers do, anyway, but I would like to see his vision of Batman play out. In the past it's seemed like random potshots (Hal decking Batman), so I'd like to read how Johns sees Batman as part of a grand statement.

      I agree that this series is one to enjoy, and thanks for sharing the ride!

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  12. I guess I'm anonymous here but you may remember me from CBR boards as BatmanJones. Thanks again!

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  13. I'll paste here, wholesale, a comment I just posted at CBR:

    It might be worth going into detail on the JLA story that seems to be the template for what Dr. Manhattan did here.

    In JLA #37, an evil Johnny Thunder orders the Thunderbolt to make the JLA no longer exist. The Thunderbolt goes back in time on Earth One and does the following:

    • Blocks the lightning bolt that gave Barry Allen super speed.
    • Prevents the destruction of Krypton.
    • Saves Abin Sur.
    • Smashes the white dwarf fragment that Ray Palmer would find.
    • Breaks the machine that Erdel used to bring J'onn J'onzz to Earth.
    • Helps crooks beat up Batman on his first case, leading him to retire.

    His other actions (stopping the careers of Aquaman, Hawkman, Wonder Woman, and Green Arrow) are not shown.

    What's happening in Doomsday Clock appears similar, but attacks the other team (JSA instead of JLA) and so far as we've seen, causes death instead of preventing it.

    Per Firestorm, the realization – perhaps extremely obvious – that just tumbled into my consciousness about a week ago is that Firestorm is the DCU equivalent of Dr. Manhattan. He only has a fraction of Dr. Manhattan's powers, but a similar origin and the transmutation power that seems most obviously inspired (when the character was created in 1978) by Captain Atom.

    Martin Stein might be the answer to multiple mysteries here, if that is the role that Dr. Manhattan chose to live his life in the DCU. Could Stein have stood on the set of The Adjournment? Dr. Manhattan could obviously make that happen with his powers, but even if he lived in the body of a person and lived a human lifespan, let's say he was 14 in 1954, born in 1940, and was 60 years old in the year 2000. That could work out, and would make him one of the few JLAers who would fit the timeline.

    It remains unexplained why Bubastis glowed blue when she saw The Comedian in this issue but not earlier, in Luthor's office.

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    1. Firestorm / Martin Stein being Doctor Manhattan is a brilliant theory. I was thinking maybe it was Captain Atom, but I really like this Martin Stein theory because Firestorm's prominence in the background of this story does feel a little odd, so I could see this being the reveal

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  14. Dr.M is trying to recreate Earth 1s old setting, Jla as the public main team, No Alan, Kent's dead etc. John's seems to being doing post crisis as if Earth 1 never stopped in the (reboot) narrative and every other merged earth's characters are just there.

    Recreating probably would meant to make it more hopeful but somethings missing.

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    1. Whether accidentally or by design, what Dr. M was "trying" to do is what DC's creators were also trying to do: They introduced the New 52 changes not to create a giant 9-year plot device for Dr. M but because they thought it was the right way to redesign the DCU in a Silver Age framework. So this story may be more autobiographical than we have been thinking. Dr. M is a stand-in for Johns himself.

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  15. Just thought I'd jump in and point out that 1954 is the year that "Seduction of the Innocent" came out. Isn't that considered to be what caused the end of the golden age?

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    1. Hi Jesse,

      The last JSA story was 1951, and then Superman and Batman "first met" (in a way that stuck throughout the Silver Age, etc. continuity) in 1952. Then Barry Allen debuted in 1955. So if I were picking, I'd say 1951-1952 contained the transition from Golden to Silver Age, but not a lot of events in the comics themselves marked a change in that whole range.

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  16. Hey Rikdad! Here's a really good theory i found on Reddit; just thought that you might like to hear it.

    "Superman doesn't beat Manhattan as gods: he beats him with his humanity. Somehow, Clark makes Jon realize that the common denominator of both earths' destruction is Dr. Manhattan. His appearance in both universes destroys the balance that would exist without him. A watchmaker can only fix a clock by removing the foreign object or the broken spring, not by adjusting everything around it. In the end Dr. Manhattan goes back to the watchmen universe and saves Jon Osterman from getting trapped in the intrinsic field generator, saving his life and ending his existence at the same time. Both timelines reset without Manhattan's intervention and neither descend into apocalypse."

    When an unstoppable force and an immovable object meet, one must surrender or cease to exist.

    Tell me what you think.

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    1. Son of Batmann,

      I think the usual handling of Dr. M is that you can't beat him, but you can readily convince him of things. So that matches that expectation.

      The vision Dr. M has in #7 is interesting in that it seems to imply that Dr. M himself considers it possible for Superman to destroy him. But regardless of who's throwing a punch, it's hard to see why that would destroy Dr. M if he were trying not to be destroyed.

      I suspect that this timeline will simply end, as seen in many alternate-timeline stories. In fact, it's made me think it might be time to review Donny Darko.

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  17. excellent write up as always.

    Do you think Ozymandias tachyon's could be messing up Dr Manhattan's visions? It happened in watchmen..it might happen here.

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  18. Dzub, thanks! It certainly is possible, technically, but it seems like whatever happened in that conversation was news to Veidt and contradicted his previous beliefs, so I'd guess that Veidt is reacting to situations rather than making them occur. It is logically possible for both to be true, though it would certainly make the story more complicated.

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  19. Rikdad -- I made a decision long ago to wait for the trade on Doomsday Clock. So I'm seeing the story through your ever-insightful posts. Thank you for these. I do wonder, though, if eventually the DC Universe as seen in other books is meant to "catch up" to this story, then how have all the delays in this miniseries disrupted other creators' timing and storytelling. One more question: Are you reading, and might you review, Morrison's 'The Green Lantern?" Like his Batman run, sounds like there are many layers of the onion to be peeled back regarding Hal Jordan.

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  20. ANy chance that Batman knows who DrM is via the Mobius Chair in Darkseid War? Seems that was pretty significant at the time and it was theorized that he found out who Joker was via that chair. So maybe Joker is the offspring of Marionette and Mime? Or would that be too fitting?

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