Everything about DC Comics’ Doomsday Clock series is bound to become controversial, given that it is a sequel to Watchmen, one of its most acclaimed series. Now, in an unexpected move, the second issue has somehow brought the Comedian back to life, and joining the others in the main DC Universe.
Watchmen came out in 1986 and 1987, written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons and John Higgins. It was hailed for being a gritty deconstruction of the superhero genre and had a large effect on the comic book industry, especially influencing the 1990s and the 2011 DC reboot. With their new DC Rebirth initiative, however, this influence has become literal, with the reveal that the Watchmen character Doctor Manhattan has secretly been involved in many problems in the last few years.
To many fans, Watchmen is a sacred cow; many question any decision that involves the property but does not have Alan Moore’s okay, such as the decision DC Comics made a few years ago to write short prequel comics about some of the characters. Naturally, some are upset about the idea of integrating them into the wider DC Comics universe, whereas before they were set aside in their own separate continuity, though others are excited.
Bringing back the Comedian is a particularly surprising move, however. His death is what set up the entire Watchmen story. The series revolves around a world where superheroes (mostly ones without powers) were legal during previous decades, but illegal by the 1980s. The Comedian, a particularly sociopathic ex-hero, is found killed, and his old teammates believe the culprit to be a murderer specifically targeting former superheroes. Ultimately there turns out to be a twist, and it turns out that the Comedian was killed for something else entirely.
It is also worth noting that Doomsday Clock neglected to bring back another important character—Rorschach, who was killed off at the end for roughly the same reason as the Comedian. Instead there is another person wearing his mask and taking up his mantle, the identity of whom has yet to be revealed.
It remains to be seen where writer Geoff Johns plans to take this story, how the Comedian came back, and whether fans will react with outrage or, like the Comedian himself, just laugh at this twist.