Overview: The entire Justice League goes to Mars to address the one responsible for the Moscow explosion, and they are not ready for who they encounter.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Now five days after the Moscow explosion, we see Dr. Manhattan, on Mars, holding a Legion of Superheroes ring. He notices it is December 27, 3019, and a boy sacrifices his life to save Earth’s sun. The only thing that remains of him is his ring. This explosion spreads Tachyon particles all throughout time. He notices it is December 27, 3019, and this boy is auditioning to become apart of the Legion.
He notices it is July 16, 1940. He moved the Lantern six inches away from Alan Scott. Now, the kid’s Legion ring is gone. It is now December 27, 3019, and there is nothing but darkness. It is now November, 3002, and there is nothing. One week from now, the last thing he can see is Superman in a rage. His cape is torn and his hands are stained with blood. Manhattan stands alone on Mars unable to answer a single question: Does Superman destroy me or do I destroy everything?
While Manhattan is thinking about all this, the entire Justice League and their reserves (except for Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman) fly to Mars to confront him. They have tracked Manhattan’s specific energy signature, and this energy signature is the same energy that blew up the Red Square in Moscow.
Manhattan recalls five days and three hours ago, a detonation on Earth creates a Tachyon fog obscuring the immediate past and future. Trying to pierce through time now is as looking through a kaleidoscope, Manhattan asks, “What are you trying to accomplish?” He realizes that moment is not now, but later. As this fog begins to fade, he is able to peer through the past and follow these particles to their source.
We see a flashback of moments after the explosion. Hawkman checks on a Batman, whose plane was knocked out of the sky by this explosion. Hal checks on Superman; he asks what did Firestorm do to Superman. Due to the damage sustained, Superman has been taken to the Hall of Justice for recovery.
In the present, a reporter states Superman got what he deserved. He should have not taken a stance. Now, there is a protest against metahumans at the Hall of Justice. Anti-Superman sentiment continues to grow as Superman has made himself unavailable to respond to allegations of collusion, fraud, and accessory to murder. They can only guess why Superman refuses to talk to the press on these matters.
An adviser tells the President he cannot wait to address the Superman issue any longer. She recommends condemning Superman in the press. He tells her if he does this, he would be sacrificing his biggest deterrent to foreign attack. She tells him if he stands by Superman today, he will be out of the White House tomorrow. She tells the President he needs to become America’s hero.
The Russian premier, via television, states the peoples’ heroes can no longer wear masks. He demands they reveal themselves and their true loyalties to the world.
Another broadcast comments on a report of a mass of American metahumans gathering on ships outside Washington, D.C. last night. The President tweeted the U.S. cannot support Superman any longer. Wonder Woman is set to address the United Nations. She was believed to retreat to the island of Themyscira earlier this year. Her reappearance coincides with the disappearance of the Justice League.
Alfred has taken care of Bruce at Wayne Manor since the Red Square explosion. Bruce wakes up and asks about Clark. Alfred tells him he is recovering safely at the Hall of Justice. Bruce asks about Firestorm.
Ronnie Raymond wakes up, only to realize he is on a spaceship heading to Mars. Ronnie asks Professor Stein, who is sitting by Ronnie if he got a glimpse of the truck that hit them. Stein responds it was not a truck which hit them, it was an explosion. Ronnie states he has been framed again, once by Pozhar and another by this mystery person.
Bruce heads to the Batcave and asks Alfred why the entire League has left the planet. Alfred tells him they are a strike force to analyze and contain the source of this energy. They came to the conclusion Firestorm is not the cause of all this. It is someone else at the heart of this conspiracy. Bruce tells Alfred the League is being played. He says Firestorm is not the source of the explosion nor the man they are going after was either. He looks at Rorschach’s mask and says he should have listened. He asks his computer how long it would take to receive a message on Mars. It responds it would take thirteen minutes and fifty-five seconds.
On Mars, the League disperses in search of the one responsible for this explosion. Jessica Cruz picks up an old photo and wonders how it got here. Hal tells everyone his rings have located some sort of structure ahead. The team heads to Manhattan’s glass structure.
In the Hall of Justice, Lex Luthor walks into Superman’s recovery room. He asks Lois if she got the drive he sent her. He tells her he has come here to work together. He tells her he is the one who sent her footage of the heroes who never were. He tells her it is proof of a force not only undermining Superman, but all of creation. He asks her if she has ever heard of Wally West.
Bruce puts on his cape and cowl, and Alfred questions if he is actually going to Mars. Bruce, while changing, watches the news where Wonder Woman is set to address the United Nations about a comprehensive plan of peace in hope of defusing this Metahuman Arms Race.
Diana tells the world today is a day of healing. Their world has been under attack by mistruths, fear, and extremism. There is no singular villain behind this madness for they all have played a role. Suddenly, the roof breaks and Diana sees Black Adam and his crew looking down on the General Assembly. She asks why he is here. He tells her since her friends have left town, he is making his move.
The Justice League has met Manhattan and they begin their assault. In the middle of this conflict, Manhattan grabs Ronnie and brings him to his past. He brings him to a facility where Professor Stein is currently working in. On this day seven years ago, Ronnie would fuse with Stein, creating one of the most powerful metahumans in existence. He overhears Stein speak on the phone of how this boy (in reference to Ronnie) is perfect for this experiment. He has groomed the boy well for life after the experiment. Overcome with emotion, Ronnie (as Firestorm) lashes out and gives Manhattan his best shot.
Seemingly amused by everyone’s attacks, Manhattan asks them what they are trying to accomplish. In a blink of an eye, he kills every single member of the Justice League.
Analysis: I have complained about how Doomsday Clock is moving ridiculously slow in the past. There are many things I can say about this issue, and it being slow is not one of them. This single issue is one of the best comics I have read in a long time.
I will start with the art. This is one of the best drawn and colored books of this year. I, and the general readers have complained about the delays of Doomsday Clock due to the art. If Gary Frank keeps cranking out great work like this, then he can take all the time he needs. Gary Frank has to draw almost every single hero in the DC Universe. He brings in the Justice League, the New Gods, the entire Marvel family, and even the Doom Patrol. Each face is distinct and different. If there were no words in this book, you will still be able to understand the story. The emotion conveyed by the art is incredible. And the crazy thing is, Frank still captures that “Watchmen” feel. I would give the art alone a perfect score.
Now for the story; if you do not know about Tachyon particles, let me give you a quick summary. Tachyons are hypothetical particles which move faster than the speed of light. Due to this behavior, they will have some interesting side effects. Nevertheless, these particles are seemingly Dr. Manhattan’s one weakness. Dr. Manhattan has the ability to perceive all time, thus he knows simultaneously the past, present, and future. The presence of Tachyons at any one point of time, hinder this ability, forcing him to stay in the present. This is how Ozymandias was able to fool Manhattan in the original Watchmen graphic novel.
Due to the sun exploding in 3019, expelled tachyons have clouded the time stream. Although I think this is possible, I have a feeling there is another mysterious force in play. Even Batman admits Manhattan is not the master manipulator. Once again, I believe Manhattan is being manipulated. By whom, I do not know.
I think Batman and Lex Luthor have stumbled upon the same answer. Lex tells Lois that something has messed with the creation and stolen heroes. At the beginning of this issue, Manhattan talks about moving the Lantern away from Alan Scott. If not were for the JSA, the idea of “heroes” would not exist in the DC Universe. And if not for these heroes, Earth would have been defeated time and time again. When Starro first attacks the earth, there would be no heroes to stop him. (The Justice League first unites to fight Starro in Brave and The Bold #28.)
The closing quote of this issue is by Seneca, “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for crisis.” Think about most of today’s problems. Think about genocide, racism, sexism, economic disparity, and war: these all involve human beings. You have these big “crises,” but there are also petty human squabbles which happen daily. I think the Metahuman crisis is a meta-commentary on society today. In America, you rarely have Democrats and Republicans working together. Social media, whose goal was to bring people together, has become a cesspool of anonymous trolls who send hateful and disgusting messages to people which they never would say in person. You can ask the question, “Are we, human society, better off now than 10 years ago?” I would say not really. Diana says in her speech that there is not one responsible for their problems; they each have failed society. We let our greed and jealous run wild, forcing us to not care about anyone but ourselves. No longer can we say we do things for “us”, the collective of humanity. Everything deals with “I.”
I believe it is why humanity has always loved heroes. Heroes bring hope. They are an ideal, a symbol of what humanity can become. Though we often fall short, we still have this inspiration to be better. If our heroes are being framed, then where is hope? How can we rise above the cruelty of life? How can we fight injustice? What is the point of living in this messed up world if there is no hope for a better life? It is said Rebirth was the beginning of hope again in the DC Universe. If they cannot trust Superman, then is there a possibility for hope?
In the Watchmen universe, humanity found hope by fighting a common enemy. I believe the DC Universe will be saved by embracing a common hero. But who will this be? I believe there is a conspiracy where a powerful force is manipulating things to become humanities true hero.
Final Thoughts: We are given a hint at a showdown between the two Supermen: which will destroy the other?