Inside DC’s Controversial Watchmen and Justice League Crossover

  

Three decades after Watchmen‘s release, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ dark, cerebral graphic novel remains one of most critically celebrated works of the superhero genre. On the commercial side, the comics world of the Justice League (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.) contains some of the most well-known superhero stories of all time. So last year, when DC Entertainment announced it was going to launch a series that picked up where Watchmen left off and included the Justice League, the move was met with no shortage of questions.

But for series writer (and DC chief) Geoff Johns, it was also necessary. “No one came to us and said, ‘Hey, you should do Watchmen in the DC Universe,'” Johns says. “We know the skepticism going in there, and we tried to create a book of the utmost quality and craft beyond what we usually do.”

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As the first issue of Johns’ series revealed in November, Doomsday Clock takes place seven years after the events of the original, and follows Adrian Veidt—Ozymandias from Watchmen—as he leads a search for Doctor Manhattan in hopes of saving the world from his own plan to save the world. It’s a weighty premise, and one that promises a big (or at least compelling) payoff, but the goal wasn’t just to shock or awe. Instead, it’s a character study of some of the most complex personalities in DC’s universe.

“We’re trying to do things that are unexpected, and make the book feel more about people, but it’s not about an ‘event,'” Johns says. “We’re really trying to do an inward story here, a personal story. The plot is extremely simple: These people are trying to find somebody to help save the world. That’s it. That’s the story.”

A significant amount of the anticipation for the series, obviously, involves seeing Watchmen characters meeting members of the Justice League for the first time. The creators wanted to do more than stage a bunch of epic showdowns, though. “You put Batman and Rorschach in the same room, how satisfying is that, really?” says artist Gary Frank. “It’s a very shallow type of fun if all they do is have a fight. Yeah, it’d be great for a couple of pages, but the interesting stuff is how these two characters relate to each other, how they respond to each other.”

Doomsday Clock‘s deeper purpose also lets them sneak in more meta-textual elements. In the series’ second issue, released last week, there’s even one—the so-called “Superman Theory”—that Moore himself might approve of.

“It’s a very simple question that these scientists are asking in the DC Universe, which is why are 97 percent of meta-humans American?” Johns explains. “There’s a big textured story in the background that will be unfolding, a conspiracy of sorts, and something that ultimately explodes [into the main narrative]. Things that seem in the background and easily dismissed, actually all become part of the story. As dense as the book is, there are no throwaway moments.”

The mention of back matter points to another way in which Doomsday Clock follows the lead of Watchmen. Like its predecessor, each issue is told in the nine-panel grid structure of Moore and Gibbons’ original and each issue features journalism or other in-universe elements that introduce or expand on the central storyline.

That doesn’t mean Doomsday Clock is merely a retread of what came before. “We really wanted to maintain the feel, down to the paper quality, of the original book as much as possible, because the story was going to be so different,” Johns says. “We wanted it to be both similar and completely different.”

Johns and Frank see their latest series as the pinnacle of a collaboration that stretches back almost 15 years to their time collaborating on Marvel’s Avengers series. The two talk twice every day about the project, Johns says, adding, “I don’t think we’ve ever worked this closely on a book.” And probably not as hard, either. Johns estimates Doomsday Clock scripts take five times as long to write as those for other comics. “I love it because it is different and new and it’s challenging,” Johns says. “I’m working with the best people in comics. I mean, Gary Frank is the best artist in comics. You can’t deny it.”

“I deny it,” Frank laughs. Johns is near apoplectic in disagreement, but eventually submits. “You don’t need to agree,” he says. “Just wait until everyone sees issue three.”

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From: https://www.wired.com/story/doomsday-clock-watchmen-justice-league/

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