Is Doomsday Clock Based on a Massive Plothole?

We’re in the era of Unauthorized Watchmen Sequels, what with the premiere of Damon Lindelof’s HBO TV series and the republication of Watchmensch by Heavy Metal. The TV series runs in an odd parallel to the other unauthorized sequel, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s miniseries Doomsday Clock.

We’re one issue away from the final issue of Doomsday Clock. I finally read the issues out so far and felt that something was missing. Actually, I found a lot of things lacking but that’s for a review that I don’t plan to write.

But one thing that bothered me from the start – the whole plot might be founded on a huge plothole.

Ozymandias’ Original Plot

Watchmen

To wit: the miniseries starts from the premise that the publication of Rorschach’s journal undoes Adrian Veidt’s entire giant squid plot.

Veidt had concocted a massive conspiracy to frighten the world into thinking an alien invasion was prominent. He gathered a large group of writers, artists, designers and scientists to create a fake giant alien squid. As part of the plot, he ordered the illegal exhumation of a dead psychic so his scientists could clone the brain. They implant the cloned brain into the giant squid. Veidt also secretly founded a research lab in the heart of New York City that worked on opening transdimensional portals.

Once the giant squid is complete, Veidt has the team that created it killed so none of them could talk. He then teleported the squid into the lab in the heart of New York. 3 million New Yorkers die and the psychic shockwave traumatizes survivors for years. The world is so shocked that the US and Russia declare a halt to hostilities to unite the world against a potential alien invasion. Veidt has succeeded in pulling the world back from nuclear war.

The Big Plothole in Doomsday Clock

The original graphic novel ended on a cliffhanger: Rorschach’s journal on the cusp of getting published by the fringe right-wing magazine The Frontiersman. Doomsday Clock takes place much later and suggests that Rorschach’s journal exposed Veidt’s alien squid hoax and undid the peace it created. Veidt gets disgraced and vilified. Rioters attack Veidt’s corporate offices. And worst of all, the world is back on the brink of nuclear Armageddon.

Veidt sets out to find Doctor Manhattan, whom he had traced to the DC Universe where the latter had been tampering with history and continuity.

…Except Veidt’s fall from grace makes no sense here. Rorschach didn’t know about the giant squid plot yet when he finished his journal. All he manages is to accuse Veidt of murdering Edward Blake, the Comedian and a vague declaration that Veidt is behind everything.

There’s no way the world would then blame the giant squid hoax the world on Veidt. The Frontiersman is a fringe magazine with only a few thousand readers, not enough to cause a global movement that believes Veidt committed an atrocity. It’s too big a leap to be plausible. Yet it forms the entire basis of Doomsday Clock’s plot.

I noticed this hole in the first pages of the first issue of the miniseries. It immediately took me out of the story. I didn’t believe any of the subsequent story as a result. This began the first on a long list of things I felt make no sense in the comic. The best I can say is the series is a glorified piece of fanfic to bring the Watchmen characters in contact with the DC superheroes.

Is It About Anything in the End?

Apart from cashing in on a property essentially stolen from its original writer, I mean.

Doomsday Clock #2 art by Gary Frank and Brad Anderson

Maybe Doomsday Clock reads as a self-commentary about obsessions with continuity and the lack of new ideas in mainstream superhero comics. Writers of corporate-owned superheroes can mash them up like action figures. The story ultimately becomes its own fanfic with nothing to say beyond a fanfic mashup.

It stands in sharp contrast to the TV series.