Death Metal: How the DC Crossover Rewrites Doomsday Clock
The opening issue of Dark Nights: Death Metal changes one of the key plot points in Doomsday Clock and its impact of the DC Universe.
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WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Dark Nights: Death Metal #1 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, FCO Plascencia and Tom Napolitano, on sale now from DC Comics.
DC Comics’ latest crossover event Dark Nights: Death Metal serves not only as the culmination of years of comic book storytelling beginning with 2017’s Dark Nights: Metal but also as a celebration of the DC Universe as a whole. The most prominent aspect of this love letter to DC history in the opening issue is the role of Crises in shaping the fabric of the DCU. DC has had a long history of reinventing itself through Crises ever since 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, completely rebooting the shared comic book universe for new generations of readers. The most recent of these events was Doomsday Clock, which concluded at the end of last year, with reality reshaped by Doctor Manhattan.
After leaving his universe at the end of the seminal Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Manhattan had arrived in the DCU and begun to quietly observe it. The omnipotent superhero was confused that reality would constantly be reworked and reimagined, largely through Crises, over the decades in a meta-textual nod to the ever-changing nature of mainstream comic book continuity. Manhattan was similarly puzzled by the importance of Superman, the constant heart throughout all the changes made to the DCU. To better understand the Man of Steel and DCU overall, Manhattan uses his vast powers to intervene and alter history, creating the New 52 reality. After seeing Superman in action firsthand, Manhattan realizes the error of ways and changes the DCU one last time before departing back to his own universe.
Death Metal briefly revisits Doomsday Clock while subtly changing Manhattan’s motivations for changing reality in the first place. Reunited with Wonder Woman and possessing the powers of Doctor Manhattan himself, Wally West recounts the true story behind Manhattan’s role. While Manhattan’s move to change the space-time continuum is still linked to prior Crises, this time the change Manhattan made weren’t overtly made to better understand them or Superman’s placement in the DCU. Instead, Death Metal reveals that Manhattan’s actions were seemingly a conscious effort by the Watchmen character to repair all the cracks in reality formed by the repeated Crises.
The added reason to Manhattan’s actions make them considerably more altruistic than the glorified science experiment from Doomsday Clock. The key to Manhattan’s initial changes to the DCU had been the cold, calculated murder of Alan Scott before the Golden Age hero could become Earth’s first Green Lantern and co-found the Justice Society of America just to see how it would change history. Now, Manhattan’s actions — while still admittedly morally questionable — give him a stronger underlying goal to repair an entire universe, no matter the cost.
Death Metal goes on to reveal that, despite changing reality at the end of Flashpoint and at the end of Doomsday Clock, Manhattan’s actions were ultimately unsuccessful. Instead of repairing the fissures made to reality, Manhattan’s actions knotted it further, forming a sort of nexus tangling the entire DC Multiverse, with the main DCU as its focal point. However, the residual energy from the Crises and the end of Doomsday Clock remain, with Wally West theorizing that the Crisis energy may be enough to restore the DC Multiverse to its state, undoing all the damage caused by the evil Perpetua and the Batman Who Laughs in the first place.