Spoiler Alert: This article has spoilers for Doomsday Clock #2 created by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, available at comic book stores now.
The Rebirth #1 that came out last year had created a strong and unexpected link between the DC Universe and the Watchmen series from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. After that, the Rebirth has gone on to once again establish some stories and characters into the continuity which were earlier considered as having been eliminated upon the arrival of DC’s New 52 relaunch. The new comic book Doomsday #2 created by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank is now further delving into those things in a surprising manner.
The bond between DC Universe and the Watchmen is bolstered by the first-ever meeting between the characters belonging to both the worlds. Alongside, Doomsday Clock #2 also provides a simple, subdued approval to an iconic DC story by Moore which is Batman: The Killing Joke. This controversial Batman story from Moore and Brian Bolland had released only about a year after the end of Watchmen in 1987.
Doomsday Clock #2,
Doomsday Clock #2 shows Ozymandias (Adrian Veidt) and the new Rorschach – who is called “Reggie” by Veidt, go out of their planet in their bid to find their former colleague Doctor Manhattan. They both believe that Manhattan is vital for saving their planet, which is right on the brink of a nuclear annihilation. They seem to have been too late when nuclear missiles are shown approaching, but, somehow they manage to safely reach the world where they believe Doctor Manhattan is.
That world happens to be Earth-0, the center of the DC Multiverse which houses familiar characters including Batman and Lex Luthor, both of them feature in this issue. The Owlship makes a crash landing at a location which might be recognizable to those who have read The Killing Joke, and it is a discarded amusement park which has great similarity to the one which had a prominent appearance in the graphic novel by Moore and Bolland. That story was pretty much based in an amusement park where the Joker had psychologically tortured Jim Gordon, the police commissioner of Gotham.
While Doomsday Clock is greatly reliant upon characters and stories from Moore, the appearance of the amusement park might just be a reference to one of the most famous works from Moore. However, the prevalent theory is that Moore doesn’t believe that Doomsday Clock is a tribute to his original Watchmen story. Therefore, it might appear to be more of an insult than an appreciation to pay an homage to Killing Joke by referring to the amusement park. Thus, it is obvious that it has a deeper meaning than just to be an Easter Egg.
It is quite possible that Gotham might have many abandoned amusement parks and not just one, but, this one looks so similar that it makes us feel that this must be the one used by the Joker. The peculiar features of the park give greater meaning to it than just a continuity element, but, its appearance here also implies that The Killing Joke is a story that remains within the Rebirth continuity. After the arrival of DC Comics: Rebirth #1, a great deal of guesswork has focused on the stories which continue to officially remain canon. Doomsday Clock #2 highlights the fact that one of the most infamous stories from DC has continued into the Rebirth.
Agreed, this much loved graphic novel continues being a “real” story, but, it also proves that the major elements of this story are deeply rooted in the DC mythos. The story by Moore and Bolland had depicted the origin of at least one version of the Joker if the multiple Jokers theory is proven correct, and it has gone on to be established as the real origin story of the character. What’s even more important is the terrible physical, and psychological abuse by the Joker also continues as Barbara Gordon’s history.
This also would mean that her existence as Oracle also continued into Rebirth. Barbara Gordon was reintroduced in DC’s New 52 issue in 2011 as Batgirl, but, it questioned The Killing Joke’s position as canon. DC Editors ensured it to remain in continuity, but, her going back to Batgirl went unexplained, and that’s how it remains even in Rebirth. No matter how she recovered, Doomsday Clock shows that the cause of her injuries remains the same. Her resuming the duties of Batgirl, however, remains to be one of the several stories yet unexplained in Rebirth.
If The Killing Joke gets any acceptance, it is the one that addresses the transformation of the comics theme at the time. Watchmen was a dark test of the superhero mythos which was published at the start of the ‘grim n gritty period. The Killing Joke turned out to be darker and nastier a version of the hero vs. villain theory. The reference to the amusement park is similar to extending the darker theme – Doomsday Clock is not just continuing the vibe of Watchmen, but, it reverts back to the tone of the time when Moore and Gibbons’ classic had debuted.
Ultimately, the resentment against the mushrooming darker and grimmer comics forced a change towards other elements aimed at increasing readership. A story that took place merely seven years after Watchmen, Doomsday Clock appears to be a straightforward extension of the direction that comics had taken 30 years ago. The Killing Joke reference serves as a reminder, claiming a position in the mindset where the story is based.
Doomsday Clock #2 suggests that the series might have a bigger role than just a hint of the link between Watchmen and DCU. Rebirth displayed that DC continuity elements which seemed to have been wiped, might make a comeback, but, which of those continue, requires more detailing at some other place. Now The Killing Joke’s place has been highlighted, but, several other past stories might be well served by getting a similar approval.