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This page contains unmarked spoilers for Watchmen, Darkseid War, DC Rebirth, Superman Reborn and The Button. You Have Been Warned.

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Dr. Manhattan: All those generations of struggle, what purpose did they achieve?

"There are poisons that blind you and poisons that open your eyes."
— August Strindberg
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Doomsday Clock is a twelve issue mini-series by DC Comics, written by Geoff Johns with art by Gary Frank, released in November 2017. This mini-series continues the Watchmen Myth Arc present throughout DC Rebirth in which various heroes have realized that something or someone has changed the DC Universe into its New 52 counterpart. The publisher describes the series as "a story for our time that brings the greatest heroes and villains from the DC Universe together with the mysterious forces from the Watchmen Universe."

After the Justice League's war on Apokolips, the Owlman of Earth-3 gains the Mobius Chair and with it infinite knowledge. On the moon, he and the New God Metron discuss their plans. After asking the chair about the universe's secrets, both are vaporised by an unseen force.

The story truly began in DC Universe: Rebirth #1, when Wally West, the third Flash, returned to the DC Universe after having been removed from its history. Wally appears to various individuals, and warns Barry Allen that someone is watching them and has taken time and relationships from the DCU. Pandora, the woman who initially seemed to be responsible for the New 52, is vaporised. Barry manages to pull Wally out of the Speed Force, and both resolve to find the culprit. Wally's broken watch is shown on Mars, being mysteriously, miraculously repaired.

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Abra Kadabra later claims responsibility for casting Wally into the timestream and the world's missing memories of him. Abra Kadabra is shown to be aware of history's alteration, and is fearful of the being responsible. He tries and fails to defeat the Titans, and is thrown into the timestream as a result. His only thought that psychic Lilith Clay could decipher was one word: Manhattan.

People started disappearing soon afterwards — Doomsday, a future Tim Drake (from The New 52: Future's End), Red Robin, Prophecy, even Mr. Mxyzptlk — taken by the mysterious Mr. Oz. Mxyzptlk somehow escaped and, thanks to his antics, helped restore Superman and Lois Lane to their true forms, merging the original and New 52 versions into their true selves. This restored some pre-New 52 DCU history to canon and expanded the New 52's timeline, undoing the previous "five-year" timespan. Mr. Oz notes that this has gained the attention of a being, one seemingly located on Mars.

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While investigating the smiley face button that appeared in the Batcave alongside Wally West, Batman is attacked by the pre-New 52 Reverse-Flash, Eobard Thawne, brought back to life by some outside force. After making contact with the button, Thawne is mysteriously teleported away, returning as a smoldering corpse. One giving off unique radiation. Bruce Wayne and Barry Allen track this radiation across time, eventually being saved from falling into the timestream by the original Flash, Jay Garrick. Unlike Wally, Jay is unable to return or have Barry remember him, but tells Barry that someone has taken "everything" from him. The button itself ends up in the hands of a mysterious being, one Thawne described as "God".

Across the world, events continue to escalate: Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi discover that at the heart of a quantum storm in the Microverse threatening reality is a sort of cosmic "bullet hole" where a higher force entered our reality, represented by a gigantic blue hand. Mr. Oz warns Superman and his family that their entire plane of existence is under threat by a force unimaginably, unquestionably beyond their ability to defend themselves against. And a captured foe of the Justice League aware of history's reboots warns Batman that beyond the multiverse or hypertime as they know it, they are puppets on strings in the hands of a being directing the cycle of cosmic death and revision... and that this force seems to be pitted against another bent on the perpetual destruction of these rebirthed continuities, with the conflict reaching a cataclysmic peak.

Now, things are coming to a head with this chapter of the Rebirth saga. The ultimate confrontation of idealism and cynicism. Superman vs. Dr. Manhattan.

While the story will be self-contained, the events of this story will be felt throughout all titles afterward. The story itself will take place a year ahead of the other Rebirth ongoings, which will "catch up" to it when it ends.

Dan Didio revealed that in the wake of Doomsday Clock ending, a new "5G" timeline featuring five generations of heroes would be unveiled in Wonder Woman #750.

The story was continued in Flash Forward and The Flash #750, the follow-ups to Heroes in Crisis. After defeating the encroachment of the Dark Multiverse, Wally West learns that, even after the conclusion of Doomsday Clock, not all of Dr. Mahattan's meddling has been fixed. Now possessing the power of the Mobius Chair and Manhattan himself, they can do something about it.

The "5G" timeline will be fully introduced in the miniseries Generation, each issue will introduce one of the five "generations" which the history of the DCU will be split into. The first issue, Generation Zero: Gods Among Us, was planned for release in May 2020 on Free Comic Book Day. However, with FCBD indefinitely postponed the actual release date is unclear, and, as the recently released DiDio was apparently the main driving force behind "5G", it's unclear how much the reboot will follow his original vision or if it will even happen.

Not to be confused with the Doomsday Clock trope from which the series takes its name.

Tropes used in this series:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Ozymandias admits to having a chuckle over realizing the irony of his chosen name and the failure of his plan.
    • The Joker at the end of issue #6 admits he's beginning to like Mime and Marionette's modus operandi.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Issue #4 for Rorschach II and Byron Lewis/Mothman. Issue #8 for Superman and Firestorm. Issue #10 for Doctor Manhattan.
  • Affirmative Action Legacy: Rorschach II, who is revealed to be black in the first issue.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: A heroic example. Superman begs for Dr. Manhattan's help in fixing the colossal mess that the world has gotten into and admits to himself that even he can't do everything alone.
  • All for Nothing: Adrian Veidt's plan of bringing the world peace fails after a mere seven years, due to his scheme being uncovered, partially thanks to Rorschach's journal. Ultimately subverted, as Veidt's plan eventually ends with Manhattan being Neutral No Longer and fixing both the Watchmen and DC universes.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • In Issue #2, the Mime apparently breaks himself and his wife out of their cuffs with a mimed lockpick, but whether or not it's mere sleight of hand, some kind of invisible gadget, or he actually has superpowers has yet to be revealed. As of Issue #3, the ambiguity is gone; he mimes weapons like knives and a gun and they actually kill people. Whatever's going on with him, it's no sleight of hand but actual invisible items. The only question that remains is whether he has actual, invisible technology or metahuman powers that allow him to simulate them.
    • In issue #7, Dr. Manhattan knows there will be a confrontation between him and Superman, but when he looks to the next day, he sees nothing - does Superman kill him, or does Osterman kill everything? Or is Bubastis II just blocking his temporal vision?
  • And the Adventure Continues: At the end of issue 12, following Superman's example, Dr. Manhattan has returned to the Watchmen universe to fix Ozymandias did to the world - fixing New York, making all nuclear weapons disappear, etc. - as well as observing hints at a Dawn Of A New Era, with Reggie making the Rorschach identity his own, a young orphan girl named Cleopatra Pak (who's implied to be Ozy's intellectual successor) will eventually become the hero "Nostalgia" alongside a grown Babastis, and finally showing that Jon adopted Mime and Marionette's son - naming him "Clark" - and raised him as his own before giving him a portion of his powers.
  • Arc Symbol: Three minutes to midnight. Watchmen had Doomsday Clock symbolism all over the place, but this series repeatedly references three minutes to midnight specifically:
    • Issue #2: Both the DCU Doomsday Clock and Bruce Wayne's grandfather clock are set at three minutes to midnight.
    • Issue #5: The train to Pittsburgh that Johnny Thunder tries to board leaves at three minutes to midnight.
  • Arc Words:
    • "I see what I want to see" and variations thereof appear in every issue.
    • "Everything ends."
  • Armor-Piercing Question: A conspiracy theory has gained traction in the DC Universe called "The Supermen Theory", revolving around a single question: "Why Are The Vast Majority Of The Planet's Metahumans American?" This has led to mass riots and protests against superheroes, claiming that metahuman antics are essentially government-sanctioned False Flag Operations, and has caused other nations to develop metahuman armies of their own.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Carver Colman is homosexual but keeps it heavily under wraps. It's what led to him being thrown out of his house by his mother, and later, how she ends up blackmailing him.
  • Asshole Victim: The bank manager in Issue #2 is a Mean Boss who insults a teller and calls her son retarded, even though she told the Mime and the Marionette how to access the vault because she was being coerced. The Marionette responds with simple but effective Fingore.
    • In #6, the corrupt cops gets murdered by Erika, after not only shaking down Mr. Manson and driving him to hang himself but also killing Marcos' mother, who protested her husband being shaken down.
  • The Atoner: Veidt hypothesizes that Manhattan traveled to the DC Universe for a second chance at saving a world. Issue #4 indicates that Veidt himself has become one.
    • This seems to be mostly proven untrue, as it's revealed that Jon actually traveled to the DC Universe (the "Metaverse") by accident rather than design, and rather than try to save the world, screwed it up royally by treating it like a petri dish, continually changing and morphing it just to see what would happen.
  • Awesome by Analysis: During the battle in Issue #9, Dr. Manhattan is caught off-guard by the magical heroes like Zatanna and Etrigan, since his universe has no magic... so he stops, takes a moment to analyze their magical energies, and promptly learns to replicate their spells, using one to send many of the assembled heroes flying.
  • Ax-Crazy: Rorschach II is just as brutal and crazy as his predecessor, but the Mime and Marionette are far, far worse in this regard.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • The Comedian, sort of. Dr. Manhattan uses time travel to essentially change history so that he never died to begin with, then sends him after Ozymandias.
    • India's superteam, the Doomed, includes former Teen Titan Solstice who apparently died in Heroes in Crisis. Russia's superteam includes Christina Alexandrova as Lady Flash, whose last appearance in The Flash: Rebirth had her being accidentally killed by Barry Allen while he was turning into the new Black Flash.
    • The splash page in #12 shows Damage, Yolanda Montez as Wildcat alongside Ted Grant, and Beth Chapel as Doctor Mid-Nite (wearing a version of the Golden Age costume) among the Justice Society. Damage was killed off by Johns in Blackest Night, while Yolanda and Beth were killed by Eclipso in Suicide Squad way back in the 1990s and haven't appeared since. Likewise, both Alan Scott and the Kents came back, too, doubly so with Jonathan and Alan as between Superman: Brainiac and the final issues of Justice Society of America Volume 3 respectively, they died pre-Flashpoint, thus were already dead without Manhattan's interference.
  • Badass Boast: Captain Atom towards Dr. Manhattan in Issue #9:
    ”Forget Superman! Captain Atom is the last thing you’ll ever see!”
  • Bad Boss: The Joker, as usual. Freeze's henchmen really don't want to join the Joker's crew for that reason (though it's An Offer You Can't Refuse), and The Joker blows the brains out of one of his henchman that Mime was killing.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • The covers on the back show the Doomsday Clock logo, a clock ticking down to midnight, represented by Superman's S-Shield. Up until issue #10, it seemed like blood was flowing down onto it, but issue #11 reveals that it's not blood, but Superman's cape draping over it.
    • The first issue implies that Rorschach is taking Mime and Marionette to his partner, Nite-Owl. He's not, his partner is actually Ozymandias.
  • Batman Gambit: Ozymandias whole plan hinged on Doctor Manhattan becoming inspired by Superman's heroism.
  • Battle Butler: In Issue #12, Alfred swiftly incapacitates a racist store owner attacking Reggie in the street.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Ozymandias looks remarkably good for a wanted fugitive with brain cancer. Considering he was faking it, it might count as foreshadowing.
  • Berserk Button: Rorschach II doesn't take kindly to Ozymandias bad mouthing Walter Kovacs.
    • When Batman locks Rorschach II up in Arkham and bluntly points out that he's dangerously unstable, Rorschach II completely loses his shit.
    • But nothing compares to Issue 7. Reggie does not take the revelations of how Walter Kovacs!Rorschach actually royally screwed up his dad's mind and that Veidt was lying to him about it, as well as pulling a Wounded Gazelle Gambit on Reggie by lying about having brain cancer, all this time at all well. As in "beats Ozymandias AND The Joker to quivering pulps and finally pulls a That Man Is Dead with his Rorschach II persona."
    • You'd think having the guy who killed your parents just to see how it would affect you might have slammed it hard by telling you this fact to your face. You are obviously not Superman. Dr. Manhattan tells Superman that he was responsible for Jon and Martha Kent's death when Clark was a teenager. We see Superman, eyes glowing, lunge in Manhattan's direction to punch out Pozhar, who was about to attack Manhattan from the back. Superman then forgives him, and instead proceeds to give Manhattan a You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech that causes Manhattan to reboot the entire multiverse, allowing Superboy to save his parents from the fatal car crash.
    • The events at the end of of issue #8 and beginning of #9 - an attack that looks like an attempt to kill Superman strong enough to put him into a coma, badly wound Batman and made it look like Firestorm did it on top of that are this to the entire superhero community with Justice League, Justice League Dark, Titans, Doom Patrol, Batfamily, Outsiders, Metal Men, Green Lantern Corps, Shazam! Family and a handful of independent superheroes dropping everything to track down the one they believe to be responsible - Doctor Manhattan.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Things start going really downhill when Firestorm inadvertently transmutes an entire crowd of people into statues, despite (as he points out) never being able to transmute organic materials before. Fortunately, with Superman’s help, he’s able to figure out how to control his new ability and cure the victims. Unfortunately, Dr. Manhattan is behind it and Firestorm’s arrival in Russia to fix the victims causes the Russian military and superheroes to panic and attack him. Superman tries to stop them, and the whole situation escalates into absolute chaos before Manhattan blows up Firestorm.
  • Big Bad:
    • Dr. Manhattan, of course, the Greater-Scope Villain of the DC Rebirth storyline. Although Geoff Johns has avoided actually calling him a villain. As the series ends, Manhattan is less the Greater-Scope Villain and more of an Unwitting Instigator of Doom.
    • That said, Ozymandias makes a good go at usurping Manhattan, and, once again, manipulating him.
  • Big Damn Heroes: After his full Heel–Face Turn, Dr. Manhattan summons the entire Legion of Super-Heroes and the entire Justice Society to assist Superman in the final battle against the Russian and Kahndaqi metahumans.
  • Book-Ends: Reggie states, "I am Rorschach" in the beginning of the story. At the end, Reggie states, "Rorschach is me."
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Inverted and parodied. When the obnoxious bank manager is being a dick to her, Marionette responds by slicing off part of his finger. Only afterwards does she realize that the vault has a hand scanner, and for it to scan properly, they need the part of his finger she just removed.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: In issue #5, Batman and Ozymandias get into a debate while onboard Archie; Batman thinks Ozymandias is little more than a man that believes himself to be Above Good and Evil and a Well-Intentioned Extremist who sees his innocent victims as A Million Is a Statistic. Ozymandias sees Batman as a backwards pulp hero with Black and White Insanity and Chronic Hero Syndrome so wrapped up in endless war against criminals locked in Cardboard Prison that he refuses to fix the real problems in the world.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Byron Lewis, a.k.a. Mothman, was committed to an insane asylum off-screen in the original Watchmen, and was the last surviving member of the original Minutemen along with Silk Spectre I. Here, he returns as the cellmate and eventual mentor of Reggie Long, a.k.a. the son of Malcolm Long, Rorschach's psychiatrist.
    • The New 52 version of Dr. Sivana shows up among the gathering of villains after having not appeared since Geoff Johns's Shazam! miniseries.
    • The Justice Society of America returns in the last issue, after Jon, inspired by Superman, puts Alan Scott's lantern back within his reach. Based on Johnny Thunder being the Thunderbolt, Stargirl's costume and the lineup, it's the post-Crisis version.
  • Break the Haughty: The years since Watchmen have not been kind to Adrian Veidt, who had to see his machinations exposed; his plans fail; the world plunged into chaos and warfare after all not in spite of his actions, but because of them; and on top of that, he's dying of brain cancer. except not. He was lying about that last bit.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: In Issue #9, the Justice League and Earth’s other heroes finally confront Dr. Manhattan. After he effortlessly shrugs off the first volley, they unleash all their assembled firepower on him and seemingly obliterate him... at which point he simply reforms himself like usual and blasts them all into unconsciousness.
  • Call-Back:
    • During the final scene of Watchmen, the editor of The New Frontiersman mentions Robert Redford being rumored to run for president. Redford has just run re-election on a platform of capturing Veidt at the start of Issue #1.
    • At the end of issue #2, the news article mentions significant events currently unfolding in the DCU America: an anti-superhero movement supported by police, increased tension between the U.S. and Russia due to the presence of superhumans in the U.S., and the Doomsday Clock being moved up to three minutes to midnight. All of these events are parallels to events from Watchmen.
    • At the start of issue #3, seagulls are prominently seen after Doctor Manhattan drops the Comedian into the Metropolis waterfront. This is a reference to The Tales of the Black Freighter, where "in hell, at least the gulls are contented."
    • Carver Colman, the lead actor of the comic's Show Within a Show The Adjournment, is heavily implied to have been murdered with his own statuette award. Hollis Mason was killed in the same way in Watchmen.
    • Walter Kovacs "died" and Rorschach was born when he willingly left a child murderer to die in a burning building. Rorschach II was born when his mentor, Byron Lewis, commits suicide by willingly entering a burning building.
    • Johnny Thunder almost suffers the same fate as Hollis Mason, with the panels directly paralleling Mason's death scene from Watchmen.
    • Firestorm accidentally transforming people around him into glass is shown very similarly to Doctor Manhattan's "LEAVE ME ALONE!" scene.
    • After being blown to atoms in Issue #9, Dr. Manhattan reconstitutes himself piece by piece, system by system, in a manner identical to how he did in his origin story.
    • In Issue #12, after Dr. Manhattan declares, "Everything ends," the visuals of the Metaverse seemingly ceasing to exist were done similarly to Veidt's "invader" emerging in New York at the end of Watchmen #11.
  • The Cameo: Mister Freeze briefly shows up in Issue #4, ominously watching Rorschach be dragged to a cell.
    • The Creeper, Giganta, and Sandstorm show up amongst Black Adam’s entourage.
    • A massive number of obscure heroes and villains cameo in a splash-page in the battle between the various metahuman factions invading Washington D.C.. Later in the same issue, many members of the Justice Society and Legion of Super-Heroes are summoned by Dr. Manhattan to aid Superman.
  • The Cavalry: Happens twice.
    • In Issue #9, all of Superman's American superhero allies confront Dr. Manhattan on Mars, suspecting him to be behind the attack on Superman and Batman at the end of the previous issue. What follows is a Big Badass Battle Sequence that ends with all of them incapacitated.
    • In Issue #12, Superman has trouble dealing with the People's Heroes and Kahndaq's metahuman refugees until the Justice Society and Legion of Super-Heroes come to his aid.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • In Issue #3, Batman reads Kovacs' journal from the new Rorschach... and proceeds to lock him up in Arkham Asylum, thinking him completely nuts. Subverted in the following issue, where it turns out Batman is taking Reggie seriously, but still put him in Arkham for practical reasons.
    • In #6, all of Batman's rogues gallery assume the Batman captured by The Joker is just another random person Joker dressed in a Batman costume.
  • Central Theme: You Are Better Than You Think You Are.
  • Comic-Book Time: Invoked and directly observed by Doctor Manhattan. While observing the DC Earth's timeline, Dr. Manhattan notices all of the numerous times that history has been altered due to all of the reality-altering events that have taken place over the years. Manhattan observes how Superman's history keeps getting pushed further and further into the future while Golden Age characters like the Justice Society are either rebooted to no longer acknowledge him or simply don't exist at all anymore because of his interference. The last issue spells Superman will keep having his origin pushed towards the future way after the 21th Century.
  • Crapsack World:
    • The opening pages show that the Watchmen world has gone down a very dark path. The world has learned the truth behind the New York Massacre, Ozymandias is now a wanted fugitive, things appear to be descending into World War III, and the President is implied to be completely uncaring about the chaos in action.
    • The DCU isn't doing so hot either, as public opinion on superheroes is collapsing in wake of the Superman Theory and multiple countries are closing their borders, seemingly on an inevitable path to a metahuman war instead of a nuclear war.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Byron "Mothman" Lewis is mentioned offhand in the extras of Issue #1 to have passed away. He takes a much more important role later, when it's revealed he mentored Reggie and inspired him to take on the mantle of Rorschach.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: In the first issue, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre were reported missing along with Ozymandias, Rorschach, and Dr. Manhattan. So far, those two have not returned — they were last seen at the end of the original Watchmen living a married life under the identities of Sam and Sandra Hollis, though they both expressed a desire to return to their hero careers, with Silk Spectre wanting a new identity similar to the Comedian's. It becomes a Plot Point when they're picked by Jon to adopt "Clark".
  • The Chosen One: Ozymandias knows the only way to fix their world is to bring back Dr. Manhattan, who took off seven years prior for a universe far less complicated.
    • Another example of a chosen one: Superman. It turns out that every reboot of the DCU has been canon, not merely an editorial decision, and in every new reboot of the universe, there's one factor in common: the universe's chosen champion is Superman. No matter what meddling is done with the universe, Superman always crash-lands on Earth (and it explains the sliding timeline: the universe always creates Superman to be present at the moments in time he's most needed), is always the most inspirational hero, the one that brings forth the age of heroes and the one who fights against threats that threaten the universe as a whole, and it's all because the universe has chosen him as its protector. In fact, when Dr. Manhattan meddles with the universe and creates the New 52 continuity, he creates his own version of Superman, and the universe straight up rejects that Superman and brings back the pre-New 52 Superman as its true protector. New 52 Superman even crumbles into dust when he dies, the universe refusing to allow him to persist after death — except in his own universe, Earth-52.
  • Chronoscope: Sort of; Lex Luthor gives Lois Lane a data drive containing footage of old World War II propaganda films. Films featuring the Justice Society, who don’t exist thanks to Dr. Manhattan’s meddling in the timeline.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Subverted in Issue #12. The Russian People's Heroes team and Black Adam's faction, both of whose ranks consist almost entirely of C-List Fodder or worse, attack Superman. Surely the Man of Steel will wipe them all out effortlessly, right? Instead, Reality Ensues; even Superman can't keep up with the relentless group attacks, especially when he's trying to protect civillians, and he gets beaten to a bloody pulp until he's forced to beg for Dr. Manhattan's help.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Unsurprisingly, the Question is a believer in the Superman Theory, much to the rest of the Justice League’s chagrin.
  • Continuity Nod: Tons, as to be expected from a story built on DC history:
    • Metamorpho, Simon Stagg, Kirk Langstrom, the Man-Bat, Kord Industries and Dayton Labs are all namedropped and discussed in the Daily Planet article discussing metahuman relations and The Superman Theory.
    • The scientist who first postulated The Superman Theory is from Markovia, the homeland of Terra and Geo-Force.
    • The Dominator Invasion is directly referenced regarding metahumans.
    • Superman has a nightmare of his parents' death as it happened in Grant Morrison's Action Comics.
    • Rorschach II is held in Mad Hatter's former cell at Arkham Asylum.
    • When the Watchmen characters travel to the DC universe, they end up in what appears to be the abandoned fairground that the Joker used in The Killing Joke.
    • Issue #4 is full of these to Watchmen. Amongst other things, Reggie is revealed to be the son of Dr. Malcolm Long, he befriends Mothman while they were in the same asylum, and Reggie mentions an off-screen incident in Watchmen where a pregnant woman tried to cut her own child out under the effects of Veidt's monster.
    • In Issue #6, one character refers obliquely to the events of Heroes in Crisis - a series that was published in parallel with Doomsday Clock, but thanks to the magic of continuity, takes place before it.
    • Issue #9 opens with Dr. Manhattan having a vision of Ferro Lad’s famous Heroic Sacrifice against the Sun-Eater and recovering Ferro’s Legion flight-ring. Then he alters history and the ring disappears. Later on, he flashes Firestorm back to the day Ronnie and Martin Stein got fused together... revealing there was more going on than Ronnie knew.
    • Also in Issue #9, Guy Gardner boasts about the superhero community's victories in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, Sinestro Corps War, Blackest Night, Darkseid War, and Dark Knights: Metal.
    • In Issue #10, Dr. Manhattan observes the numerous times that the timeline of the DC Universe has been altered, mentioning beings like the Anti-Monitor and Extant. He also observes Superman's origin story being rewritten numerous times over the years, visiting the events of Action Comics vol 1 #1, Superman vol 1 #161, The Man of Steel, Superman: Birthright, and Superman: Secret Origin, as well as Pa Kent's death in Superman: Brainiac.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover of the first issue, as shown above, features Superman in his second Rebirth costume following the events of Superman Reborn. In the actual story when he first appears in his suit it's the classic costume with the red trunks, which had been brought back in his own books during the publication of the first few issues of the maxi-series.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Both Lex Luthor and the audience are given to believe that Ozymandias has suffered not only a significant fall from grace as the Watchmen Earth falls apart, but that his original squid plan was a complete Idiot Plot, and, for added irony, he's suffering from brain cancer. In other words, he's not much of a threat, with Rorschach II actually taking pity on him, and he's hideously outclassed in the DC Universe - as summed up by Lex: "If you're the smartest man on your world, I'd hate to meet the stupidest." Then it turns out that he's faking the brain cancer as part of a Wounded Gazelle Gambit, he delivers a save "Reason You Suck" Speech about the Reed Richards Is Useless trope to Batman which the other man has no answer to, is behind the dissemination of the Superman Theory (which confirms that it's partly true and turns the DCU upside down), manipulates the conflict between the Justice League and Manhattan, causing Manhattan's time blindness that leads him to assume that Superman will either kill him or destroy the universe, and casually talks a horrified Saturn Girl to death by explaining that since her future technically no longer exists, neither does she.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • In Issue #3, the Mime and Marionette murder an entire pub full of punks without even taking a hit. Complete with An Arm and a Leg, Eye Scream, Fin Gore, Boom, Headshot! and more.
    • In Issue #9 dozens of superheroes battle Dr. Manhattan. Captain Atom is the only one who even phases Manhattan, but he recovers from it and nukes everyone, apparently killing them all.
  • Darker and Edgier: This is a mainstream, in-canon DC series that freely throws around gory deaths (see Curb-Stomp Battle) and the word "shit."
    Lex Luthor: You goddamned asshole.
  • Darkest Hour: Issue #6 showcases just how bad the DCU is getting. To start with the supervillain community is terrified of the encroaching metahuman war, most of Green Lantern's Rogues Gallery is mentioned to have fled the planet, Wonder Woman is rumored to have been taken back to Themyscira which is especially unsettling because her series made it clear that she can't return there, the Suicide Squad failed a mission in Kahndaq with only Boomerang escaping, and the last issue had an angry mob attacking Batman to the point the Joker could capture him. Also there is the revelation that the Superman Theory is at least partially true. The only light left seems to be Superman who is so beloved that he's seen as the one exception to the Superman Theory and is allowed to work across the globe with no worries. The real Darkest Hour begins in issue 8, when Poor Communication Kills leads to tensions over the Superman Theory blowing up and Adrian Veidt causing an explosion that consumes Superman, Batman, most of Russia’s superheroes, and a ton of innocent people. And then in Issue #9, as things begin to completely fall apart and Superman is left in intensive care, Earth’s heroes learn Dr. Manhattan’s location and confront him... only to get brutally curb-stomped, while back on Earth, Black Adam takes advantage of their absence to attack the UN. Issue #11 reveals that everything that had happened to Superman and Dr. Manhattan since Issue #8 had been engineered by Ozymandias as part of his plan to Save Both Worlds.
  • Dawn of an Era: Doctor Manhattan observes how Superman's existence is/was the inciting incident for the DCU's prevalence of superheroes, and how he influences, and is influenced by, the history of superheroes. He starts out as being the inspiration for the Justice Society, but when his origin gets bumped into the future, they instead become an influence on him - and when Manhattan removes that influence, it helps create the New 52 Superman.
  • Deconstruction:
    • Sure, Legacy Characters are a thing and more often than not, especially if they stick around longer than them, they can turn out to be far superior to their predecessor for a variety of reasons. But what if the original hero was a psychopath bordering on Serial Killer and the successor was equally unhinged and refusing to acknowledge the dark flaws of the predecessor in a twisted form of Heroic Self-Deprecation?
    • Even though this is a world of the fantastical filled to the brim with superpowered individuals, it's highly suspicious that the majority of them happen to be American citizens.
    • Issue #4 takes the myth of The Mentor teaching the hero after they have been hit with tragedy, only frames it darkly through the story of Reggie and Bryon, a traumatised young man and a senile mental patient.
    • Firestorm is increasingly seen as a lunatic because nobody can hear his other personalities; to everyone else, he looks like a crazy guy talking to thin air whenever he responds to them.
    • Issue #9 offers a terrifying Deconstruction of superhero/supervillain origin stories; at least some of them weren’t accidents, but unethical experiments arranged by the government in order to better understand the nature of metahumans. And yes, this means the Superman Theory is at least partially true.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: From an In-Universe and meta-perspective. Jon notes that almost every universe had a Superman, and that the Crapsack World Jon came from doesn't have a Hope Bringer like him. This leads to Jon's ultimate solution — create one for the Watchman Universe, calling him Clark.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In a flashback in Issue #2, Marionette uses her Razor Wire to sever the finger of the Jerkass bank manager. She's then told that the bank's vault is opened with a hand reader. And can only be opened by the bank manager. Whose hand has just been maimed.
    • In a glorious moment, Lex Luthor openly slams Veidt for never considering the reaction of the world to finding out he murdered millions of people for his hoax and not only undo the "peace" but make things even worse, snarking that if he's the smartest man on his Earth, he'd hate to meet the stupidest. As it turns out, while he was dead right about Veidt's mistakes, he ends up horribly underestimating what he's capable of...
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: After Batman tricks Rorschach II into entering a cell in Arkham Asylum, Rorschach II furiously screams that he'll murder Batman for it... than realizes how he's really not helping his case and backpedals. Batman isn't impressed.
    • The entirety of issue 8 is effectively Superman trying to defuse the tense situation and only succeeding in making things worse.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The opening monologue has several pretty blunt allusions to contemporary political issues, although they apply to the Alternate History of the Watchmen universe.
    • It may be coincidence, but the "N"s in the "NNN" logo look suspiciously like mirror-imaged SS runes.
    • The references to "Metagene Detectors" and governments arresting super-powered individuals evokes real world racial profiling.
  • Doomsday Clock: Well, duh, especially since apocalyptic war is the MacGuffin of the series. The Watchmen universe is already at "midnight" with nukes while the DC Universe is ticking down to midnight with metahumans.
    • As of #7, what seems to be the true ticking clock of the series has been unveiled in the form of a vision of a coming apocalyptic battle between Superman and Doctor Manhattan, where apparently either Superman somehow kills him, or Manhattan destroys all of reality.
  • Due to the Dead: Typhoon's partner submits a request for his children to receive information about his classified duties so they can acknowledge their father was actually a patriot doing his duty. Not only is her request denied, the scientist confirms he's taken Typhoon's corpse from Gotham City Morgue and looks forward to autopsying him.
    • Pet the Dog: However, the children will be taken care of monetarily.
  • Driven to Suicide: Byron Lewis kills himself by walking into a burning building.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The title introduces a brand new costume for Batman.
  • The Earth-Prime Theory: Dr. Manhattan observes in Issue #10 that the main DC universe is set apart from the rest of the DC multiverse; when it's changed, the multiverse reacts, to the point of reconfiguring its very nature - infinite universes, a single universe, 52 universes, the Dark Multiverse, etc. Because of this, Manhattan dubs the DC universe the Metaverse. When the original Wally West escapes in DC Universe: Rebirth, Manhattan discovers the Metaverse is not a passive subject he can reshape as he sees fit - it's aware of how he changed it, and it's taking action against him.
  • Easily Forgiven: A poignant example. Despite having every reason to hate Dr. Manhattan for all the negative interferences he has made in his life (most notably killing his parents), Superman forgives Jon in an inspiring act of compassion and even defends him from Pozhar's attack. This only serves to affirm to the audience that yes, Superman is and will always be The Paragon.
  • Enforced Method Acting: In-Universe. Mime is completely devoted to being a mime, to the point of having cut out his own tongue so he couldn't speak. He also loves to perform, so he'll willingly let himself get beat down just so he can have a "dramatic" turnaround.
  • Engineered Heroics: Believed to be the case by many people in-universe: The Supermen Theory postulates that superhero activity is staged by the U.S. government. Scarily enough, Typhoon's DEO profile and Issue #9 confirm that at least some of it is true; Firestorm, Typhoon, Man-Bat, Metamorpho, the Creeper... they and a number of other metahumans are the result of the DEO and Martin Stein deliberately arranging superhuman origin stories. Some of them are deniable agents for the DEO, some were simply created to test the nature of the Metagene.
  • Everyone Has Standards: You have to be pretty messed up in the head for Rorschach to say you've got problems.
  • Everybody Lives: Invoked by Ozymandias in Issue #12. The Comedian gets sent back to his former state, though: dead.
  • Evil All Along: Not evil, but definitely far shadier than they seemed; Martin Stein is actually an agent for the DEO and has been involved in arranging the origin stories of multiple superheroes and supervillains. The accident that led to him and Ronnie becoming Firestorm? It wasn’t an accident.
    • Issue #11 reveals that Ozymandias is still the same self-serving monster that he was in the original Watchmen series. Then changed right back to Good All Along when Ozymandias' main goal was for Manhattan to meet Superman and have some of his idealism rub off on him — and Ozy states that he was given a chance to save both universes.
  • Evil Plan: Issue #11 revealed that Ozymandias had initially planned for him to try and convince Dr. Manhattan to come back to his world, but when he realized he refused, he ended up manipulating everything once again. He revealed the secrets of "the Superman Project" to the world to destroy faith in Earth's metahuman population and in Superman, had Bubastis fake Manhattan's signature to send most of Earth's heroes into space so that Manhattan can have his fated duel with Superman and he can swoop in and save the world himself.
  • Expy:
    • Mime and Marionette are the Watchmen versions of the super villains Punch and Jewelee, Charlton characters who battled Dr. Manhattan and Silk Spectre's inspirations Captain Atom and Nightshade, and who have a son. The Mime's blood-soaked Slasher Smile heavily implies he's also the Watchmen version of the Joker and the couples' motivation for working with Adrian is to locate their missing child. #6 implies that the Comedian is the Watchmen version of the Joker.
    • Rorschach II being an Affirmative Action Legacy to an Expy of The Question makes him one for Renee Montoya. The general idea of Rorschach II being one for Batman is also shown, symbolized by their first meeting being in front of a coin (two sides of the same coin) and Rorschach II noticing that the both of them have grappling hook guns.
    • Ozymandias's Not So Different observation suggests that he's one for Lex Luthor.
    • As a former Golden Age superhero who is thrown into a mental hospital, Johnny Thunder is one for Mothman.
    • In the back matter for Issue #3, Frank Farr is one for either Frank Fay, who had been married to Barbara Stanwyck in the 30s before alcoholism and adultery on his part demolished their marriage, or Robert Taylor, who was married to her in the '40s and '50s before divorcing her in 1952. Neither is known to have had a love-child while married to Stanwyck, who is pointedly not given a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo and instead is mentioned by name.
  • Eye Scream: Marionette blinds a man with her wires.
    • Mime does it in Issue #5, when Marionette tells him to teach them how to wink.
  • Face–Heel Turn:
    • Lex Luthor is back to being a villain, though this was foreshadowed earlier with the "Imperious Lex" storyline in Superman (Rebirth).
    • Lex Luthor has claimed that a former member of the Justice League is behind the Superman Theory that's causing havoc around the world. Issue #9 seems to suggest that it was Martin Stein, one half of Firestorm, that created the Theory.
  • False Flag Operation: The Supermen Theory posits that metahumans were engineered by the U.S. government and set loose to battle each other for the government's own purposes. It’s correct, but only sort of; only a small percentage of metahumans got their powers due to secret government influence, and even fewer of those are aware of their true origins or working for the government in anyway.
  • Fantastic Racism: The plot in the DC universe is effectively kicked off by increasing paranoia and fear of metahumans brought about by the Superman Theory and string of unfortunate incidents.
  • Fingore: The Marionette severs the index finger of a Mean Boss during a bank holdup.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: Before dying, Dr. Manhattan gives the remainder of his powers to the son of Mime and Marionette, and sends him to Janey and her family.
  • Foil: Dr. Manhattan to Superman, according to Geoff Johns. Manhattan is a human that became a godlike being, lost his humanity, and distanced himself from it, whereas Superman is an alien with godlike abilities who embodies and embraces humanity.
    • Rorschach II is one to both his predecessor and to Batman. Like Walter Kovacs, he seemingly crossed the Despair Event Horizon into insanity and has become a violent moral absolutist. Like Batman, he lost his beloved parents in Veidt's monster attack and has become a champion of the weak because of it, assisted by an elderly mentor figure (in his case, it's Byron Lewis). Reggie also shows himself to not be the uncompromising lunatic that Rorschach I was when he can't bring himself to murder Adrian Veidt.
  • Fond Memories That Could Have Been: In the final issue, after evaporating all nuclear weaponry and entrusting Clark to the Hollises, Doctor Manhattan indulges in a final daydream in which he never enters the intrinsic field chamber, instead marrying Janey Slater and becoming a father of three, fading as the dream ends.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • As Ozymandias recoils from the pain from his brain tumor, his pained expression is juxtaposed against William F. Buckley Jr. telling his audience, "Do not believe their lies." Sure enough it turns out he's faking it.
    • The plot point involving Mime and Marionette's child (who would now be an adult) has many assuming he may be connected to the as-of-yet resolved plotline involving the existence of the three Jokers running around.
    • The Joker is set to have a big role in the story. As such, the first issue alludes to him by having the Mime have eerie similarities to the Clown Prince of Crime, and Ozymandias reeling from pain when he mentions becoming almost Laughing Mad upon realizing the irony of his situation. In Issue #2, when the Archie lands in Gotham, it seems to crash into the abandoned amusement park that Joker used in The Killing Joke.
    • Rorschach II being in Arkham coincides with Legion of Super-Heroes member (and telepath) Saturn Girl currently residing there, which Batman writers have been spotlighting with cameos whenever Batman visits the place since the start of Rebirth.
    • Finally, there is Johnny Thunder, who's the only known member of the JSA still on Earth 0 and running free; as of Rebirth, he'd apparently thrown the Thunderbolt away under unknown circumstances. The Thunderbolt is arguably one of the few beings in the DC Universe who can go toe-to-toe with Dr. Manhattan and (assuming the JSA were wiped from history by Manhattan) certainly exists as a Chekhov's Gun.
    • There is a very subtle one in Issue #1 that is paid off in Issue #3: At first Rorschach II is dead-set against going off-mission to rescue the Mime at Marionette's urging. It's only after Marionette mentions the importance of family, even to psychos, that Rorschach II relents. Rorschach II knows about losing family. It's revealed in Issue #3 that as Reggie, he had to watch helplessly as his parents were among the three million killed in New York by Ozymandias' squid-being.
    • The way Mothman sees the world reflects Reggie's self-delusion in regards to Ozymandias and Rorschach: both see what they want to see.
  • For Want of a Nail: As it turns out, Dr. Manhattan has been doing this for shits and giggles. He literally prevented Alan Scott from becoming the Golden Age Green Lantern just to see what would happen.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: There are a lot of plotlines here, all heading towards an uncertain end. This book is simultaneously a Superman story, a Batman story, a Watchmen sequel (with separate plotlines for different Watchmen characters) and a backdoor pilot for eventual Justice Society of America and Legion Of Superheroes revivals.
  • Good All Along: Ozymandias' plan involved saving his own universe by Dr. Manhattan learning some optimism in the DC universe. And it works.
  • Government Conspiracy: The Superman Theory postulates that all metahuman battles are actually government plots to cover up human experimentation.
    Geoff Johns: One of the big things that is going to have a major impact in the DC Universe is this concept of the Supermen Theory and where it goes. I can’t overstate that enough.
    • Doomsday Clock #6 reveals that at least some of it is true. Typhoon was discovered to be metagene-positive long before he got his powers, and the DEO arranged for the "accident" (actually a highly-controlled scenario) that gave him his powers. Afterwards, he worked for the DEO as a deniable agent against Firestorm.
    • Issue #9 makes clear that the Superman Theory is very much true, though not nearly as far-reaching as the theorists claimed; Firestorm, Man-Bat, Metamorpho, the Creeper, Typhoon and at least some other heroes and villains had their origins deliberately caused by the DEO to either study the nature of the Metagene or create deniable agents against the Justice League. However, only a small percentage of metahumans were created this way, and only an even smaller percentage of them work for the government.
  • Happily Married: Nite Owl and Silk Spectre are revealed to be retired and in assumed identities.
  • Harmful to Minors: Played for Laughs when the Marvel Family ask Darla to close her eyes so she doesn’t see Dr. Manhattan’s infamous blue penis.
  • Hates Being Touched: Rorschach II gets really annoyed with people touching him. It reaches Out, Damned Spot! levels when he showers, freaking out about having touched Veidt and scratching his head enough to draw blood.
  • Have You Seen My God?: Very dark example concerning Dr. Manhattan and the Watchmen characters.
  • He's Back:
    • Issue #2 ends with the Comedian coming back from the dead to have a rematch against Ozymandias, except this time he's sober while Veidt has a tumor in his head.
    • Classic Superboy returns in #12.
    • The classic multiverse returns in #12 as well, including the classic Earth-2, the New 52, Flashpoint, and every multiverse that existed pre-Crisis.
  • History Repeats: The riots going on in the DCU are very similar to the ones that happened in Watchmen that led to vigilantes being outlawed. And in Issue #9, governments begin calling for superheroes to unmask themselves and step down...
  • Hope Bringer: Issue #12 firmly establishes Superman as this as he is meant to be the guiding light for the people of the universe. Every universe. Jon realizes that the reason the Watchman Universe is a Crapsack World is that it has no Superman or equivalent. He fixes that with "Clark".
  • Hope Spot: After Firestorm accidentally transforms multiple people in Russia into glass, he retreats somewhere with one of the affected people in an attempt to undo his actions. Thankfully, Hope Bringer Superman comes to comfort and encourage him, allowing Firestorm to successfully revert the person, a young boy, back to normal and prove that he can fix what he had done. Unfortunately, when they attempt to explain this to the Russian government, Superman's siding with the metahumans sends things down a chaotic downward spiral. The Russian military attempts to arrest Superman and Firestorm, accidentally shattering the glass people in the process and driving Firestorm mad enough to almost go nuclear. This ends up being another Hope Spot as Superman manages to calm Firestorm down...until Doctor Manhattan causes an explosion anyways and kills many civilians in the process. It's later revealed that Manhattan didn't cause this, but Ozymandias.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Mime only allows himself to get beaten up because it's so much more dramatic when he engages in this trope.
  • Idiot Plot: Invoked in-universe. Lex Luthor spells out how completely stupid Ozymandias's plan to achieve world peace was.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Despite seeing firsthand how badly his previous attempts to bring world peace through manipulation ended, Ozymandias goes right back to trying it again once Dr. Manhattan refuses to help.
  • In the Style of...: Johns is taking pains to directly follow Alan Moore's writing style, right down to the nine panel grid and the Visual Pun based art/narration synergy.
  • Irony:
    • After framing Dr. Manhattan for giving several of his own employees cancer, Ozymandias has now contracted cancer for real. Bonus points for the smartest man in the world getting brain cancer.
    • Veidt's second (third?) round with the Comedian ends with him going out the window this time.
    • The infamously right-wing conspiracy theorist Rorschach now has a successor under Affirmative Action Legacy.
    • Ozymandias is saved from falling to his death by the fact that LexCorp has strong glass windows...the same sort that he hurled Comedian through at the start of Watchmen. Comedian lampshades this.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Ozymandias at first appears to have redeemed himself for his actions in Watchmen, realizing that his attempts to save the world from destruction succeeded only in driving it closer to the brink, and on top of that, he has brain cancer to boot. Turns out that not only was he lying about having brain cancer in order to manipulate Rorschach II into helping him, but as soon as Dr. Manhattan basically tells him to get lost, Ozymandias goes right back to working on another plan that he claims will "save the world", likely at a terrible cost. His plan does work, but numerous civilians are caught in the crossfire because it involves Manhattan watching Superman getting his shit kicked by villains.
  • Just Before the End: The Watchmen world is literally hours away from self-destructing in nuclear war when Issue #1 starts. Ozymandias and Rorschach II are planning a Hail Mary move to find Dr. Manhattan so he can stop it.
  • Karma Houdini: Mime & Marionette, despite being a thorn to almost everyone they encounter in both worlds, are left unscathed by the end of the series, even taking over Nite Owl's ship Archie as their mobile home to raise their upcoming daughter. Justified as Ozymandias believes (and it did) that Doctor Manhattan will spare them as a reminder of the duty to protect his former lover Laurie, and to have the couple act as an 'anchor' in order to easily let their son traverse between both worlds at ease.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: After Ozymandias is summoned by Dr. Manhattan, the Comedian shoots him, and after he claims that he's happy with dying as a hero Rorschach stops the bleeding, saying that Ozymandias will pay for his crimes on their world.
  • Kick the Dog: The first thing we see Lex Luthor doing is firing an entire room full of scientists at LexCorp for some trivial mistake.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Affirmative Action Legacy Rorschach II complains that the color of his car is irrelevant. One can easily surmise that this also applies to any readers who might complain about who he is under the mask.
  • Legacy Character:
    • Rorschach II.
    • Jon notes that nearly every alternate universe has a Superman or equivalent. Except the Watchman universe, which Jon rectifies. Hope Bringer indeed.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Seemingly with Ozymandias, who gave several people cancer to drive off Dr. Manhattan, now has brain cancer himself. Except he doesn't.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: As usual, Guy Gardner tends to rush in without thinking. He regrets it when charging Dr. Manhattan leads to the latter casually destroying his Lantern ring.
  • Like a Son to Me: The fact that Martin Stein sees Ronnie Raymond like a surrogate son is driven home in many of their scenes. Which takes a darker turn when it’s not only revealed that Stein is responsible for them becoming Firestorm, but that he was motivated to do so by the metahuman-related death of his biological son.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Tons of minor characters from both the DC Universe and Watchmen Universe are involved in this series, causing some level of Continuity Lockout.
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: It's revealed that Dr. Manhattan did this to Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern. He altered history so that Scott wasn't able to reach what would have been his power battery during his origin story, causing him to die in a fatal train crash.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Ozymandias as it turns out, and on a spectacular scale that makes his plan from Watchmen look like amateur hour. As revealed in Issue #12, he secretly manipulated everything so that Superman and Dr. Manhattan would meet to inspire the latter to return to the Watchmen universe.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": All assembled heroes practically crap their pants when Dr. Manhattan casually destroys Guy Gardner’s ring and copies the magic heroes’ abilities.
  • Meaningful Rename: The various incarnations of the DCU having been renamed to reflect the metaverse. For example, Post-Crisis DC is renamed Earth-1985, while pre-Crisis is Earth-1938.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Byron Lewis a.k.a. Mothman, who mentored Reggie Long and inspired him to become the second Rorschach, commits suicide by willingly walking into a burning building.
  • The Mole: Issue #9 reveals that Martin Stein is actually a Mole for the DEO within the Justice League, and always has been. He deliberately caused the accident that fused him and Ronnie into Firestorm in order to infiltrate them.
  • Monster Clown: The Joker has a role in the narrative as per the promos.
    • The Marionette and The Mime are giving Mr. J a run for his money.
  • Mugging the Monster: One unlucky supervillain in Arkham tries intimidating Rorschach II, not being aware of who he is. It does not end well, judging by the large chunk of flesh that Rorschach spits out of his mouth as he’s dragged back to his cell.
    • The thugs in The Joker's bar find out quickly that Mime and Marionette are just as bad as their boss.
  • Mutually Fictional: Both invoked and ignored. The Watchmen characters come from a world where Batman, Superman, etc. are fictional characters, something they comment on almost immediately. Meanwhile, Watchmen itself appeared as a comic book in an issue of The Question, which goes unaddressed. Possibly justified by the fact that Doomsday Clock takes place in the New 52 timeline while that particular issue was set in the Pre-Flashpoint timeline.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Pozhar, the de facto leader of the Russian government-funded "People's Heroes", is slavishly patriotic and refuses to even consider joining forces with Black Adam's metahuman faction when they meet as he believes doing so would be a betrayal of his country.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ozymandias deeply regrets his whole plan in Watchmen, since all the death and suffering it caused turned out to be pointless in the long run. Unfortunately, he starts getting more and more desperate until Manhattan tells him he's not going back. He refuses to give up and gets an epiphany as to how use the information he's accrued to "save" both worlds, an idea that leaves Saturn Girl horrified.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The truth about Ozymandias gets out on November 22 (or possibly 23), 1992. In our world, this is the date that The Death of Superman was published. This also isn't the first time The Death of Superman was used as a point where the world went to crap — this was the period that the Golden Age Superman claimed the post-Crisis went to crap back in Infinite Crisis.
    • The first issue is named after a line from an Ozymandias poem like the original Watchmen, although this time around, it's a reference to a different poem than the one Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote.
    • Rorschach II meeting Batman is a reference to how Rorschach II, besides being a distillation of Steve Ditko characters, is also a parody of gritty heroes like the Dark Knight. This is lampshaded when Rorschach II notices that Batman also has a grappling hook gun.
    • The flashback in Issue #2 shows Mime and Marionette being confronted by Dr. Manhattan. Punch and Jewlee, the Charlton Comics inspiration for the two, made their first (and only pre-DC) appearance in Captain Atom #85, Manhattan being a Captain Ersatz of Captain Atom. Later in Issue #9, when Captain Atom and Dr. Manhattan meet during the big battle, Manhattan is visibly unsettled by seeing him, most likely realizing that they’re counterparts of one another.
    • The Question is given the same squiggly speech bubbles as Rorschach, lampshading their nature as mutual Expies of one another.
    • Issue #10 features Dr. Manhattan observing all of the various versions/updates of Superman's origin story that DC Comics has published since the Thirties.
    • "Worlds live. Worlds die. Nothing lasts forever."
  • Naked People Are Funny: Byron flies naked. He says it's because clothes are too heavy for his cobbled together flying rig, but one gets the impression he's just a loony nudist.
    • Played with in the case of Doctor Manhattan. He himself is as serious as a heart attack, but The Joker makes a snarky quip concerning Manhattan's nudity. Later in Issue #9, the Justice League are understandably perturbed by his nudity when they finally confront him, with Mary Marvel suggesting that Darla Dudley close her eyes.
  • Negative Continuity: India's superteam features former Teen Titan Solstice as a member, and the second Tattooed Man refers to how his predecessor got "screwed up" by Sanctuary. Solstice and this version of the Tattooed Man were both victims of Wally West's nervous breakdown in Heroes in Crisis, which canonically takes place before this story.
  • Neutral No Longer:
    • In issue 8, Superman finally takes a stand and publicly calls out the Superman Theory and the demonization of metahumans as wrong... which, combined with Firestorm inadvertently starting a fight with Russia’s superheroes, ends up being the final straw in tensions over the issue.
    • Veidt's ultimate plan is to make Jon neutral no longer, and actually care about the Watchman universe.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Despite Batman essentially telling him to shut up, Superman takes a side, the metahumans, which gives certain factions the excuse to attack the US and devolve the world into Armageddon.
  • No-Sell: Dr. Manhattan shrugs off nearly everything the Justice League hurls at him. It takes all their firepower combined to even damage him, and even then he just regenerates near-instantly. At the same time though, Manhattan discovers that he has trouble using his powers on Lantern rings, possibly due to their emotion-based nature... so he decides to simply destroy said rings whenever he gets a chance.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Rorschach II angrily threatens Batman when he's tricked into a cell at Arkham Asylum, only to backpedal when he realizes he's digging himself deeper.
    • Firestorm is one of several metahumans interviewed and, during the conversation, he's interrupted by his other half, which no one else can see, making him look crazy.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Carver Colman appears to be partially inspired by Rock Hudson, one of Hollywood's most beloved Golden Age stars who was a closet homosexual.
  • Not Me This Time: Lois thinks the Superman Theory is Lex Luthor's latest attempt to discredit the superhero community. He isn't, as he reveals, but he knows who is.
  • Not So Different:
    • The Joker picks up and wears the Comedian's smiley face button, showing he's more like the Comedian — sadistic, brutal, under the guise of a happy man — but while the Comedian thinks he's a hero, The Joker is a Card-Carrying Villain.
    • In issue #12, Batman tells a broken Reggie that a symbol of fear can be turned into a symbol of justice. Bats would know.
  • Numerological Motif: The Doomsday Clock on the back of the first issue starts at 11:49 (eleven minutes to midnight), and each issue clicks one minute closer to midnight, represented by Superman's S shield. The series ends at 12:05.
    • The specific setting of "three minutes to midnight" is referenced repeatedly.
  • Offing the Offspring: Carver Colman was murdered by his own mother.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Comedian is the only person Mime and Marionette are truly afraid of.
    • Saturn Girl reaction to reading Veidt's thoughts at the conclusion of Issue #7 has her exclaiming in a panicked voice, "That's not supposed to happen!"
  • Once More, with Clarity!: In Issue #9, Dr. Manhattan forces Firestorm to re-witness the day of his own origin story. Only this time, it’s shown from Martin Stein’s perspective... revealing to Ronnie that Stein deliberately arranged for them to become Firestorm.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. Dr. Manhattan shares his given name, Jonathan, with Superman's human father, who appears in a flashback in the first issue.
    • Invoked in the finale issue. Dr. Manhattan adopts Mime and Marionette's son and decides to name him Clark.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Besides his initial shock over the Comedian's reappearance, Ozymandias is equally confused by Blake looking forward to getting a reward for killing him, as he's never been one to care for such things in the past. Turns out Jon really hired him to kill Bubastis II. Killing Ozy is the reward.
  • The Paragon: Superman is presented as such for the DC Earth, so much so that he seems to be the only superhero on the planet who's still beloved by the population after the Supermen Theory starts circulating. A news report even notes that, despite all of the international tension, he's still openly welcome to carry out his heroic actions in nations across the world without issue. The Darkest Hour begins when that stops being the case.
    • This is reaffirmed in Issue #12. It takes only a few choice words after barely a minute of interaction between Superman and Manhattan for Superman to completely change Manhattan's entire worldview and inspire him to not only to fix the Watchmen universe, but to change the DC Universe's history for the better as well. Realising that Superman is literally at the heart of everything in the DC multiverse, Manhattan restores his parents as well as his forgotten Superboy identity. He even names his adopted son 'Clark' in Superman's honour.
  • Past Experience Nightmare: Superman's introduction is him suffering a nightmare where he recalls the night where he was left feeling isolated at a school prom and his parents died in a car accident. What makes it especially distressing is that he's never had a proper nightmare before.
  • Posthumous Character: Byron Lewis/Mothman is dead by the time the story starts, but Issue #4 reveals that he's the one who mentored Rorschach II and inspired him to escape the asylum they were locked in.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • In issue 8, the global situation starts absolutely falling apart thanks to a string of awful misunderstandings about Firestorm.
    • Things get even worse in Issue #9, when the Justice League leaving Earth to confront Dr. Manhattan is mistaken by news agencies as the start of some sort of metahuman exodus. Even worse is that Batman can't contact these heroes warning them to back off.
  • The Power of Friendship: Superman extending his hand in friendship to Dr. Manhattan brings about Manhattan's Heel Realisation. The rest of Issue #12 affirms that even if Superman is the eternal, multiversal constant that keeps everything glued together, he still wouldn't have gotten anywhere without the most important people in his life.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: People from the DC Universe, from the Joker to the Shazam family to Guy Gardner to an unnamed jogger, keep reacting with shock and/or disdain to Doctor Manhattan's constant nudity.
  • Power Nullifier: Bubastis II blinds Dr. Manhattan's ability to see through time; Ozymandias says she is "a living blind spot." This may be why Jon can't see beyond his encounter with Superman.
  • Precision F-Strike:
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Averted in Issue #3, when Mime's invisible gun graphically blows a man's brains out, splattering them and blood on his buddies.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Bubastis II. It's even highlighted on the cover to Issue #8.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Ozymandias' plan was full of the Didn't Think This Through trope. He should have expected what would happen if his plans were discovered, and he should have realized that Dr. Manhattan's Screw This, I'm Outta Here! in the original series wasn't a case of indifference.
    • It was implied in Watchmen that Rorschach's journal being read would lead to the end of Veidt's utopia. While it does happen, it takes roughly six years for it to take effect due to the unreliable information within (the reason why it was tossed in the crank file to begin with was because of the opening entry being about gruesome roadkill) and someone within the government actually giving enough of a damn to start an investigation.
    • It becomes increasingly apparent that all of the Watchmen characters save for Dr. Manhattan, once they enter the DCU, are completely and utterly outclassed and are little more than low-tier Chew Toys in a setting of genuinely superpowered characters. Once Ozymandias explains his story to Lex Luthor, Luthor believes it, only to mock Veidt for believing that as such his squid plan would actually work. Rorschach II doesn't even get that far, as his maddened ramblings and unstable behavior lead Batman to dismiss Reggie as insane, casually imprisoning him in Arkham.
      • This is gradually Subverted as the series goes on, however, as the Watchmen characters steadily adapt to the setting and show how they can use it to their advantage. The Comedian massacres many high-profile supervillains when he blitzes an unofficial Legion of Doom gathering with nothing more than military-grade weaponry and the element of surprise. After a rocky start, the Mime and Marionette manage to quickly rise through the ranks of the Gotham criminal hierarchy until they eventually earn the Joker's respect. And, to say the least, Ozymandias proves to be nowhere near as ineffectual as he tried to make himself out to be at the start.
    • For all their advanced technology, it still takes a while for all the heroes to travel to Mars to confront Dr. Manhattan. Batman attempts to send a warning message but not only does the Batcomputer estimate that it needs to travel for twelve minutes to even be heard, it fails to be sent due to the distance.
    • Even when you're Superman, getting outnumbered is not going to be a fun time. Even when surrounded mostly by far weaker Z-list nobodies, he actually finds himself in serious trouble as they relentlessly bum-rush him all at once, averting the unanimous "Conservation of Ninjutsu" Dead Horse Trope.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Ozymandias delivers a scathing one to Batman, and by extension the rest of the DC heroes, in Issue #5.
    Ozymandias: I've read and seen enough to know you're tripping over your own capes, playing a game of tag, while the world falls apart. You've put these people through hell. Your world is worse off than mine ever was. Look at the sheer number of people you lost in the narrative of Good versus Bad. Wandering aimlessly in a fog of self-righteousness. You're so busy putting these "super-villains" into prisons with revolving doors, you've ignored the world's real problems. And now you're caught in this vicious cycle of entertaining yourselves. You cling to a simplistic morality based on pulp heroes. I wonder. Is that why Jon came here? To observe the futility of your colorful lives? Or did he come here believing he would blend in? I weaned my world off gasoline and oil. I cured famine and disease. I negotiated nuclear disarmament. I turned the world upside down. I did whatever I had to, to try and save it. And, yes, I failed. But what have you tried to do to make this world a better place?
  • Reconstruction: The series has been advertised as the DC Universe's long-delayed retort to the legacy of Watchmen.
    • It's actually the main theme of Reggie's character arc. First comes playing the mantle of Rorschach to a hilt, assuming the identity and joining in the quest to save the world. Then comes the deconstruction when Doctor Manhattan reveals how Ozymandias has played him for a patsy and even his mentor Mothman chose to lie to him about Rorschach's role in his father's descent into madness. At the end, it's Batman and Alfred who reach out to him and give him the Rorschach mask back, convincing him to Reimagine the Artifact and reconstruct the very idea of Rorschach, telling him that even if he only sees a monster in the mask, he can take it and change how others see it, inspiring him to retake the mantle, this time as his own hero.
  • Red Herring: Hugely averted. Dr. Manhattan was baited so hard that lots of readers figured it had to be a misdirection. Nope, he's really in the DCU now, and is explicitly stated to appear here.
  • Redeeming Replacement: The second Rorschach seems to lack his predecessor’s Black and White Insanity and inability to compromise to save the world. A good thing, too, since that was part of what caused the world’s current state. Adrian agrees, but the successor takes offense to the implications.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Angrily attacked by Ozymandias in Issue #5, when he tears into Batman and the rest of the DCU for this reason, saying that while his plan may have killed millions, at least he tried to proactively fix the world instead of only stepping up to stop the villains.
  • Retcon: Grant Morrison's Action Comics shows it is fifth dimensional imp Vyndktvx who caused Jonathan and Martha Kent's deaths. Doomsday Clock shows Doctor Manhattan is the one responsible but it's not made clear if he manipulated Vyndktvx to do so or did it himself.
  • Ret-Gone: Saturn Girl ends up erased from history once she realizes Superman doesn't even know her.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Johnny Thunder remembers the Justice Society and things like Alan Scott's power battery, even though Manhattan erased those people from history. Unfortunately, coupled with his advanced age and Alzheimer's, it makes him look pretty delusional.
    • Issue #11 seems to suggest that Dr. Manhattan's hops through time-space has been spitting out various items and people.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Ozymandias, the world's smartest man, whose intelligence led him to give Dr. Manhattan's acquaintances cancer and kill nearly three million people, now has brain cancer. Or he would have if he wasn't faking it.
    • The date that the story begins is doubly symbolic. As mentioned above, it was the publication date of The Death of Superman, but November 22, 1992 was also the 29th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which for a generation was the symbolic death of The American Dream. Kennedy's "Camelot" became a fondly-remembered golden age before the disillusioning administrations of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon and the tragic quagmire that was The Vietnam War.
    • As the first issue begins with riots, it may also be that the choice of 1992 may have been influenced at least tangentially by the fact that 1992 was the year of the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles following the acquittal of four white police officers on charges of beating a black motorist after a traffic stop.
    • Batman, DC's most popular character, locks up Rorschach II, Watchmen's most popular character, in a cell in Arkham Asylum. He tells Rorschach to his face that he's crazy and ignores his demands to be let out. In other words, this scene is a summation of Geoff Johns's intentions with the book: to finally close the door on Watchmen's negative influence on modern comics and never again try to replicate its nastier themes and concepts. There's also the various times Issue #3 makes subtle deviations from from the nine panel grid, showing that the comic is slowly distancing itself from Watchmen's style.
      • The reveal in Issue #4 that Batman was taking Rorschach II seriously all along, and his argument with Ozymandias in Issue #5, implies that Johns disagrees with the message of Watchmen, but concedes that the earlier work does have its merits.
    • As Batman is violently assaulted by a rioting crowd, the Bat Signal is destroyed, making it clear that all public faith in him has been destroyed with it.
    • On Mars, Doctor Manhattan faces off against the magical heroes and turns it around on them by learning how to use magic himself. In other words, Doctor Manhattan is deconstructing how magic works and using it to tear down the heroes that Watchmen also tried to tear down. However, Manhattan's brief display of elation shows that in spite of Watchmen using the genre's tropes against itself, there are still things so irrefutably fun that it makes it hard not to enjoy even with all the cynicism.
    • Two in the final issue:
      • Batman is last seen adding Rorschach's diary to the Batcave's collection of trophies.
      • As the Hollises hear about the global neutralization of all atomic weapons and how the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has "reset" the Doomsday Clock, there's a shot of the clock in the wall. It's 12:05.
  • Running Gag: A few:
    • Rorschach II sure loves his pancakes.
    • People from the DC Universe, from the Joker to the Shazam family to Guy Gardner to an unnamed jogger, keep reacting with shock and/or disdain to Doctor Manhattan's constant nudity.
  • Save Both Worlds: After Ozymandias fails to convince Dr. Manhattan to return to the Watchman universe in Issue #7 (Dr. Manhattan is more interested in studying Superman and the Metaverse), he formulates a new plan to save the worlds of both DC and Watchmen. It involves turning Superman into a Hero with Bad Publicity and having Dr. Manhattan get assaulted by the Justice League, the Teen Titans, the Shazam Family, Justice League Dark, etc., setting them both up to confront each other.
  • Seen It All: Except for a single panel where he expresses some surprise at the contents of Rorschach I's journal, Batman remains completely stone-faced throughout his small team-up with Rorschach II, not even batting an eye at him breaking into the Batcave and discovering his identity. Tricking him into an Arkham Asylum cell is just as casual.
    Batman: It's been a long day.
  • Series Continuity Error: Superman's claim in issue #1 that he has never had a nightmare before doesn't jibe with Trinity vol. 2 #8, published seven months before Doomsday Clock #1, where Superman had nightmares.
  • Sequel Escalation: The furthest Watchmen went with its setting was to Mars. Doomsday Clock expands that to the DC Universe, which is fictional within Watchmen's universe. Dr. Manhattan is also no longer limited to atomic manipulation, but has become a full-blown Reality Warper. Inverted in terms of the pacing: the first five issues of Watchmen took place roughly over one week. The first six issues of Doomsday Clock so far span a single night.
  • Sequel Series: To Watchmen. Initially, Geoff Johns had insisted it was only the conclusion of the DC Rebirth storyline, but the co-publishers at DC Comics later upgraded the series to full on sequel status. In addition, it does complete the storyline begun in Rebirth #1, and continued with The Button, Superman Reborn, and The Oz Effect.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Ozymandias's goal at the end of Watchmen, to kill millions to save billions, is apparently undone a mere seven years after it happened, completely undoing everything he tried to accomplish as the world gets closer to nuclear holocaust than ever.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Issue #1 — That Annihilated Place:
      • The title itself is a reference to the Ozymandias poem by Horace Smith.
      • One of the television networks that signs out of the broadcast when the National News Network is instated is UBS. Howard Beale even gets a good rant in before the channel is shut off for good.
      • The news reporter William F. Buckley Jr. is named after the founder of the conservative newspaper National Review.
      • Clark keeps a copy of B.F. Skinner's Walden Two on his bedside table.
    • Issue #2 — Places We Have Never Known:
    • Issue #3 — Not Victory Nor Defeat:
    • Issue #4 — Walk On Water:
    • Issue #5 — There Is No God:
  • Issue #7 — Blind Spot:
    • Veidt's attempts to clone a second Bubastis mentions that a cartoon of him and the original got him nostalgic and willing to try again. Apparently, Saturday Morning Watchmen was a real show made after after Veidt bought out everyone's trademarked identities.
  • Issue #12 — Discouraged of Man:
    • The title is a quote from Rabindranath Tagore.
    • In Manhattan's exposure to the ever-unfurling Superman multiverse, one of the encounters he sees is the "Secret Crisis of 2030", where Superman battles two "invaders" in the form of Thor and "a green behemoth stronger than Doomsday", a fight that sees them fighting across the universe and Doomsday itself being killed in an attempt to protect Superman from these two threats.
  • Shown Their Work: The first issue doesn't use a glossy finish like modern comics, opting for The '80s rough comic stock.
  • Slasher Smile: Mime sports a supremely creepy one when fighting.
  • Sliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility: The original Watchmen was a Type III with a single Type X element (i.e. Dr. Manhattan), Doomsday Clock introduces more implausible and anachronistic elements, such as North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons capability in the early '90s when in real-life they only achieved it in 2006 note , and retrofitting The New '10s political soundbytes (i.e. "undeplorables") to an AU version of the '90s. Some of the stuff in the comic, like North Korea having missiles (they only got it in 2006) and the EU being on the verge of the breakdown was impossible by 1992note  in either the real '90s or the AU version of '90s in the original graphic novel. The missiles could be a Justified Trope if one takes such background imagery as energy hydrants and use them to extrapolate that other technological advances also moved forward at an accelerated pace due to Dr. Manhattan, but the rest does not have such a reasoning. With Richard Nixon having been elected President in five straight elections, however, the timeline is skewed enough to make it possible.
    • Robert Redford has been elected president in the Watchmen world and is implied to be a reckless, uncaring demagogue of a president in an obvious dig at Donald Trump. In real life, Redford is famously much farther to the left than Trump.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The main purpose of this event is to show this through two of DC Comics' most legendary characters: Superman, who represents hope for all and is the most human DC hero despite being from another planet, and Dr. Manhattan, a human who has given in to cynicism and lost all touch with humanity. In-Universe, the Watchmen universe has effectively destroyed itself thanks to public cynicism, and the DC Universe has slid so far from Idealism to Cynicism, it's heading towards the same fate.
  • Snap Back: Issue #9 does this for Nightwing and Batgirl as Dick Grayson is back in the black and blues and recovered from his gunshot-induced amnesia and Barbara Gordon's dumped her throwback costume in favor of her New 52 armor. Donna Troy is also wearing her old Wonder Girl costume for some reason.
  • Spin-Offspring: Rorschach II is Reggie Long, the son of the original Rorschach's prison psychologist.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Planetary.
    Comic Watch: Where Planetary used its core members to look at various events and trends in comics and popular culture history, so too does Doomsday Clock by examining events with dates corresponding to comics release dates. In doing so, the creative team effectively crafts a love letter to DC Comics by highlighting and centralizing the first great success of the publisher -— Superman.
  • Stab the Scorpion: That vision Jon had of Superman attacking him? Superman was punching a villain attacking Jon from behind. This completely flummoxes Jon into having a Eureka Moment.
  • Stealth Pun: The title of the Watchmen and DC Universe crossover can be abbreviated as DC. Subtle, Johns.
  • Story Within a Story: The Adjournment, a Film Noir movie that serves as a Spiritual Successor to Tales of the Black Freighter. Both stories symbolically foreshadow and move the plot along in their respective books.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Seymour, the guy who picked Rorschach's journal from the crank files of the New Frontiersman, has been murdered by someone who wanted to steal the journal, heavily implied to be Rorschach II.
    • Issue #4 reveals that Byron Lewis committed suicide at the end of Rorschach II's origin. Also, a news report about Adrian mentions a public memorial for Sally Jupiter/Silk Spectre I.
  • Super Supremacist: Black Adam is growing into one, and decides to act on his beliefs while most of the Justice League is busy fighting Dr. Manhattan, leaving Wonder Woman as the only one who can stop him.
  • Take a Third Option: Dr. Manhattan assumed that the blackness following Superman attacking him was either Superman killing him or Manhattan killing everything. He didn't consider it was a Stab the Scorpion moment by Superman and the blackness? Manhattan resetting the DC Universe and then returning to the Watchman Universe and set things right there, too.
  • Take That!:
    • The POTUS of the DC Universe (all but stated to be Trump himself) tweeting that he has done more good for the world than Superman.
    • While the world descends into chaos, the President of the United States is more interested in golf, which when combined with the preceding text's allusions to 2016-2017 politics, is an obvious jab at Donald Trump even though it's established in the text that it's Robert Redford in the book (to the point that one character smugly mocks his wife, in the face of impending nuclear war, that it's her fault for voting for Redford).
    • The prisoner who Rorschach II leaves to rot in a cell bears a strong physical resemblance to Dan DiDio.
    • The opening narration from Rorschach II rips into both far left and far right, metaphorically depicting them as carrion scavengers fighting over the corpse of the moderates.
    • A big one toward Watchmen itself being Batman locking up Rorschach, the most popular character of the original story, in Arkham Asylum. Even more potent since Rorschach is meant to be a parody of Batman, and his inspiration sees him as insane and dangerous. Also, Batman decides that Rorschach is crazy after reading the journal, implying that the events of Watchmen are equivalent to a madman's deranged writings.
      • This one arguably goes the other way in the next issue. Batman visits Reggie in prison in the guise of a psychologist to learn more about him, implying he takes him seriously. Following the logic above, it could be seen as understanding and paying respect to the merits of Watchmen as a story when you look past the Darker and Edgier surface into what made it such a landmark story in the first place.
    • Ozymandias' "The Reason You Suck" Speech above also takes aim at DC Comics, especially its New 52 era.
    • Issue #10 has a big one towards the New 52: Doctor Manhattan intentionally kills Jonathan and Martha Kent, as told in Grant Morrison's Action Comics, after removing all chances of the Justice Society of America to be formed. Observing that his actions have turned the man who was supposed to be the Hope Bringer, The Paragon and The Cape of the DC Universe into a moody loner detached from his humanity, Jon proudly pats himself on the back for making Superman more "relatable". Or at least, relatable to an emotionless, nihilistic god-like being who has thrown away his own humanity.
      Doctor Manhattan: I feel the power of changing Superman. It is intoxicating.
    • Another from Issue #10 is Colman excitedly telling Jon about his newest film in a somewhat whimsically childish manner, thanking Jon for giving him hope with his prophecies in a career that has tons of risks to beware of. Jon coldly dismisses his enthusiasm with a deadpan "I don't have much interest in fiction." In other words, many comic creators have Alan Moore to thank for inspiring them to enter a career where they get to write for their favorite characters and the lot of them are pretty vocal about it. Unfortunately, Moore's frustration with the industry and disillusionment with the superhero genre has led to him being dismissive of the good he's done and the happiness he's brought to the people he's influenced.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Rorschach II doesn't try at all to hide his hatred of Ozymandias, even as they're working together. Given that Veidt indirectly killed his parents, it’s not hard to see why.
  • Temporal Paradox: Doctor Manhattan creates one by pulling the Comedian into the DC universe when Ozymandias throws him out of the window. It gets resolved when Lex Luthor uses a vibrational emitter to cancel Manhattan's action and sends him back to falling in midair.
  • That Man Is Dead:
    • Inverted in Issue #1, when Marionette claims that Rorschach is dead, Reggie snarls, "Wrong. I am Rorschach."
    • Played straight in Issue #7, when Reggie declares Rorschach is dead.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Because of Dr. Manhattan's inactions, he comes to realize he's become the villain of the story.
  • Time Skip:
    • The Watchmen universe we return to is now in 1992, six years after the epilogue of the original.
    • As for the DC Universe, the story takes place exactly one year after all the ongoing titles that are concurrently published alongside Doomsday Clock.
  • Tongue Trauma: Marionette claims that the Mime ripped out his own tongue with pliers so he could remain silent. However, Marcos was a Cute Mute when he was young, so it's possible someone else ripped out his tongue as a child.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Perry White seems perfectly fine with exploiting the public's paranoia to sell papers. He does seem regretful at it though, and refuses to join the rest of the press in blaming Superman for the incident in Moscow.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Rorschach II and pancakes. Not unlike his predecessor and sugar cubes.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Carefully defied. DC is very careful to avoid giving away plot details regarding the event, with even solicitations being deliberately vague and unclear so not to give away plot points.
  • Tranquil Fury: Rorschach II is increasingly riled up when Ozymandias describes him as an improvement over his predecessor.
  • Trapped in TV Land: Ozymandias notes that a lot of the DC superheroes are fictional characters in the Watchmen universe.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: The whole series appears to build towards a climactic, universe-deciding showdown between Superman and Dr. Manhattan. Subverted in the end, as instead of fighting, Superman inspires Manhattan to snap out of his idleness.
    • We do get a fairly good substitute in the climax, however, as countless C-List Fodder from various global metahuman factions arrive to batter Superman and each other into the pavement.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Luthor mocks Ozymandias for his actions in the Watchman universe, saying if he's the smartest person on his world, he'd hate to see the dumbest. Little does Luthor know that Ozy had a deeper plan in mind that not only saved his own universe, but the DCU as well.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Marionette and The Mime.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • It's revealed that the publishing of Rorschach's journal was the cause of this, but not in the way many had suspected — it was actually ignored until the president's second election, where he demanded an investigation.
    • Though Earth-0 was already slipping downward, the arrival of Ozymandias and Rorschach II and their actions have sped up that spiral, easily mimicking how the DC Universe started getting darker after Watchmen became popular.
    • Superman ends up being the lynchpin that sets off open conflict over the Superman Theory.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Ozymandias' scathing "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Batman has major shades of this, claiming that the heroes of the DC Universe should have used their powers to effectively bring peace to their world instead of bringing their villains into Cardboard Prisons all the time. Ozymandias claims that while he tried and failed, it makes him more superior to the heroes who sat on their laurels and did nothing.
  • Villain Takes an Interest: Mime and Marionette are very interested in meeting this "Joker" fella.
  • Villain Team-Up: Word of God and solicitations reveal Ozymandias and Lex Luthor team-up for unknown reasons. Of course, at the time of release, Lex Luthor was a hero and a member of the Superman family, so this trope is Zig-Zagged. In the comic itself, Veidt's proposed team-up with Lex doesn't really go anywhere once the Comedian shows up.
    • Perhaps on both counts. On the first, it looks like Lex was shot by The Comedian, and so whether or not he will be incapacitated for the duration is up in the air. On the other, it looks like as of Superman #36 that his time as an anti-hero and begrudging ally of Superman is at an end.
    • The Joker joins Mime and Marionette in their search for Dr. Manhattan, because he's amused by the duo.
  • Villains Blend in Better: Not really. Mime and Marionette basically have to slaughter their way to the Joker, throwing away gobs of cash simply because they don't recognize it as legal tender.
  • Visual Pun: When Batman and Rorschach first meet, they're on either side of the Bad Penny trophy in the Batcave, each in their own frame. They're on two sides of the same coin.
  • Wham Episode: To drive the point this is one of the most important events on modern DC history, every single issue is one:
    • Issue #1. Especially since it continues several years from where Watchmen started off. Ozymandias's plan failed, New York and possibly the entire world is in chaos, Rorschach has a successor, Ozymandias himself has gotten cancer after infecting Dr. Manhattan's many friends and enemies, and now Ozymandias and Rorschach II are presumably to travel to the DCU in order to find Manhattan and plead for his help in fixing their world.
    • Issue #2. Nuclear war finally breaks out on Earth Watchmen, and the same appears to be on the horizon for Earth DC thanks to Russian and Markovian reaction to conspiracy theories about the true origins of the metahuman community. After making it to Earth DC with Rorschach, the Mime, and the Marionette, Ozymandias tries to get an audience with Lex Luthor only to find out that the Comedian is alive.
    • Issue #3. It's revealed that Dr. Manhattan actually saved the Comedian and sent him to the DC Universe, the Mime may actually be a metahuman and Batman locks Rorschach in Arkham Asylum thinking him insane.
    • Issue #4. Rorschach II is revealed as Dr. Malcolm Long's son, as is the fate of Byron Lewis. Alfred tries to convince Batman that locking Rorschach up was a mistake, and that they need to find out what he knows. Rorschach and Saturn Girl team up to escape Arkham.
    • Issue #5. The Supermen Theory leads to several countries completely closing their borders shortly before Black Adam breaks international law to rescue Jack Ryder and declares Kandaqh a sanctuary for metahumans, leading to a severe increase in global tensions. Batman tracks down Ozymandias and ultimately winds up beaten by rioters before getting dragged to the Joker. Lois meets with Lex believing him responsible for the Supermen Theory, but he claims not only to be innocent this time but also looking into who is behind it and reveals that the guilty party was once a member of the Justice League. Rorschach II and Saturn Girl track down Johnny Thunder, who has found the lantern of Alan Scott.
    • Issue #6. Joker takes Marionette, Mime, and a captive Batman to an underground villain meeting. The villain community is terrified at the prospect of the upcoming war. Wonder Woman is apparently in hiding. Captain Boomerang is at the meeting: it turns out that the Suicide Squad was sent to Kandhaq to assassinate Black Adam, they failed, and only Boomer escaped. The Comedian appears and starts shooting everyone. Joker, Marionette, and Mime escape and form a partnership of their own to find Doctor Manhattan, with Joker apparently forgiving them for killing his henchmen in earlier issues. Also, parts of the Supermen Theory are confirmed via Typhoon's DEO profile.
    • Issue #7. Adrian has been lying the entire time about his cancer, all as part of a sick plan to manipulate Rorschach II into becoming his servant. He steals the golden age Green Lantern's lantern and uses it with baby Bubastis to forcibly summon Dr. Manhattan, who essentially tells Veidt to get bent because he's busy with other things, while confirming to the reader that Manhattan's manipulations of the timeline extend to sabotaging the incident that would have made Alan Scott Green Lantern, killing him instead. Marionette meanwhile finds out that she's pregnant from Manhattan, with the child she's carrying and not her first born being the reason he spared her. Oh, and Manhattan informs Veidt that in one month's time a disaster will occur of such magnitude that there is evidently no longer a future for him to witness. Even worse, Saturn Girl's trip to the past is explicitly to stop someone from changing the future via killing Superman and (along with Johnny Thunder) she is brutally attacked and taken hostage by Adrian, who has decided he has enough information at hand in order to take advantage of the situation and 'save' both his world and DC's, while Marionette and Mime are on the loose with a bound Comedian and the lantern to celebrate their pregnancy. And as Manhattan leaves for Mars once more, we learn the disaster in one month's time he can't see past is in the form of a catastrophic battle between him and Superman, somehow left hopeless and seemingly dangerously out of control. Which according to Manhattan means one of two things: either Superman somehow kills him...or Jon kills everything.
    • Issue #8. Things are reaching a boiling point as Firestorm is involved in a fight with various other Russian heroes, leading to a group of protesters being transformed into glass. Superman tries to defuse the situation by talking to Firestorm and, despite Batman trying to warn him not to pick a side, ends up siding with the Metahumans, sparking another incident. Even worse, Ozymandias, using the Manhattan-esque radiation, creates a huge explosion in the area, in an attempt to frame Manhattan as the culprit. As well, Lois ends up obtaining a USB Drive with a video showcasing the Justice Society of America... and she has no idea who they are.
    • Issue #9. Dozens of heroes go to face down Dr. Manhattan following the incident in Moscow. Their complete and utter misunderstanding of his situation leads to a Curb-Stomp Battle in Manhattan's favor. During this time, Manhattan shows that Firestorm was created, not by accident, but on purpose by Martin Stein, who sought to groom him as a surrogate son. As well, Batman believes that Manhattan's actions are being directed by another and Lex Luthor reveals he was the one who sent Lois the video clip of the Justice Society and that they're connected to the other missing heroes such as Wally West. At the end, as Wonder Woman seeks to bring about peace between the human and metahuman communities, Black Adam and his own metahuman army invade.
    • Issue #10. While the heroes on Mars are revealed to be not dead, we also learn that Dr. Manhattan has repeatedly observed the DC Universe's Comic-Book Time constantly pushing Superman's history around. His creation of the New 52 era (as a result of Manhattan causing the death of Alan Scott, and implicitly having caused the deaths of Jonathan and Martha Kent) was because he couldn't understand why Superman was the Hope Bringer and, upon creating the moody Darker and Edgier Superman of that era, accidentally created a Superman who would either kill him or cause Manhattan to wipe out the DC Multiverse.
    • Issue #11. As Batman and Wonder Woman fruitlessly try to fight back against a raging world, Superman awakens. Luthor reveals to Lois that he's been collecting strange variants of all the same photos, one of which was found at the sight of Wally West's return and fuels his belief that he and Superman are intricately locked in a hopeless stalemate. Ozymandias reveals to Saturn Girl that he was behind the reveal of the Superman Theory, the deaths in Moscow and luring the metahumans to Mars, all so he can destroy this world's faith in the metahumans, swoop in and save the world. He, then, promptly makes Saturn Girl disappear from history by realizing Superman never remembered her. As Superman comes to confront Black Adam and his entourage, the fight crashes him near Dr. Manhattan, leading to the fated fight...
    • Issue #12. Superman is confused as to why Dr. Manhattan isn't helping him against the international coalition while Batman and Alfred convinced Reggie to turn Roscharch into a force of good. The preordained fight ended up being Superman pummeling Pohviz from behind, with the Man of Steel inspiring Manhattan to do the right thing. Manhattan saves Alan Scott this time, allowing Clark to become Superboy once more and officially bringing back the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Justice Society of America into continuity. Manhattan realizes that Superman is the Hope Bringer, bridging the gap between heroes old and new. He gathers the other figures of the Watchmen-Earth and Ozymandias reveals it was his plan all along for Superman and Manhattan to meet so he can reinspire him to save their world, though when the Comedian shoots Ozy, Luthor arrives to send him back to his point of death in retaliation for being shot at. Manhattan leaves Marionette and Mime on Earth-Prime to serve as a bridge between the two Earth. On the Watchmen-Earth, New York is still destroyed, but Manhattan did away with all the nuclear weapons, forcing actual peace talks and, inspired by Superman's actions, Manhattan sends Mime and Marionette's son — Clark — to Dan and Laura. On Earth-Prime, Manhattan apologizes to Carver for being a terrible friend and convinces him to come out, ultimately becoming a beloved LGBTQ+ symbol. Alan Scott promises to reveal the truth behind the Superman Theory, leading to Martin Stein being arrested and talks of impeachment towards the president for his actions while Wonder Woman urges for the recreation of the Global Guardians. While the future seems uncertain, Lois and Clark go to spend time with a still-alive Jonathan and Martha Kent.
  • Wham Line:
    • Clark Kent telling Lois Lane he's been having nightmares...and he never had nightmares.
    • Mime and Marionette deciding to find out who this Joker person is.
    • Lex in response to Lois questioning him about the Supermen Theory:
    Lex: You see, I've learned the person who's created these metahumans for the government is themself a metahuman. I don't know their name, but I do know one thing about them. At some point in time...They were a member of the Justice League.note 
    • Batman to Dr. Manhattan in issue #7: "I know who you are."
    • Doctor Manhattan reacts to a statement by Rorschach, "Cancer? [looks over at Ozymandias, looks back] Adrian does not have cancer."
    • "Everything ends."note 
  • Wham Shot:
    • Rorschach appearing in front of a jail cell. And later, taking off his glove to reveal that he's not Walter Kovacs, but a black man.
    • The Mime's bloody smile after the prison riot, strongly implying him to be tied to The Joker.
    • The last page of Issue #2 has three of them on the same page, with the Comedian back and attacking Ozymandias and Luthor, Mime and Marionette having escaped their shackles, and Batman confronting Rorschach II in the Batcave.
    • A literal example in Issue #3, which has Mime aiming an invisible gun at someone...and actually shooting them.
    • The last page of Issue #5, which shows Rorschach II holding Alan Scott's Green Lantern.
    • The final pages of Issue #6...Typhoon's DEO profile, validating some of the Supermen Theory and exposing him as a government agent.
    • The final panels of Issue #7 depict a very pissed off Superman charging Dr. Manhattan's POV... then blackness.
    • Issue #8 depict Superman and a number of Russians caught up in a blue explosion caused by Ozymandias.
    • Issue #9 ends with Black Adam invading the United Nations as Dr. Manhattan walks away from the corpses of literally dozens of superheroes.
    • Issue #11 has a trifecta: one, the image of Saturn Girl crumbling out of history as she realizes Superman doesn't know her, two, Lex's collection of over a hundred versions of the same Jon Osterman photo, and three, a variant shot of the famous Flash of Two Worlds image.
    • Issue #12 has The Golden Age of Comic Books characters from the JSA & the Legion of Superheroes returning to fight alongside Superman against Black Adam's forces when Doctor Manhattan changes the past of the Metaverse again, and the last panel showing a kid named Clark having a glowing blue Hydrogen symbol on his forehead.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Reviewers like Professor Thorgi noted that since Geoff Johns' role was reduced at DC Comics and Dan Didio was back in charge, Wally West vanished from being a central figure in DC Rebirth, and only appears in two panels in the entire series.note 
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Alfred tells Bruce it was a mistake to lock up Rorschach II in Arkham Asylum.
    • Lois is pissed that Perry White willingly used the term "metahuman" on her own headline, making it seem that she was advocating it as well.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Despite Veidt almost begging him to do it, Rorschach II cannot bring himself to murder kill him, as he is no longer a smug and genocidal conqueror, but a broken man dying of brain cancer and haunted by the knowledge that his actions in Watchmen, instead of saving his world, have almost certainly sealed its destruction, showing that as much as he may want to be like Walter Kovacs, Reggie Long is not the violent moral absolutist that his predecessor was. Batman definitely notices this about Reggie, which is why he inspires him to become a better Rorschach than Walter.
  • While Rome Burns: In the Watchmen universe, the President of the United States is too busy golfing to deal with the imminent threat of nuclear war.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Issue #4 is mostly dedicated to telling Reggie's backstory, intercut with depicting his time incarcerated in Arkham.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Discussed. Comedian notes how his last fight with Ozymandias was a total Curb-Stomp Battle, in large part because he was drunk, out of practice, and caught off guard. This time around, he's sober, prepared, has the element of surprise, and knows more about how Ozymandias fights, making the rematch much more even.
  • World-Healing Wave: In issue #12. Dr Manhattan uses most of his powers to revert most of his changes to the main DC universe, and returns to fix his home universe, erasing every extant nuclear weapon, healing the damage inflicted by the initial exchange, and forcing the world powers into proper peace talks.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Lessons learned by Dr. Manhattan, Reggie, and running theme of superheroes altogether.
  • You Killed My Father: The reason Rorschach II dislikes Ozymandias so much is because he's the son of Malcolm Long and his wife, who were both killed by Ozymandias's attack on New York.
    • Superman pointedly does NOT use this trope when Dr. Manhattan specifically mentions that he was responsible for the death of Jon and Martha Kent to Superman's face. Instead, Superman forgives him and causes him to finally see things from Superman's point of view.
  • Your Days Are Numbered:
    • Ozymandias is dying of brain cancer. (But not really.)
    • In a month, Dr. Manhattan will either die at Superman's hands or destroy the universe.
  • Your Mime Makes It Real: Subverted. It appears the Mime actually has invisible guns.

"If reading this now, whether I am alive or dead, you will know truth."
— Rorschach

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