'Doomsday Clock' is the birth of DC’s existential awakening

Doomsday Clock connects the Watchmen universe to the DC universe. At least that’s the selling point of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s sequel story. Batman meets Rorschach, Lex Luthor meets Ozymandias, Superman meets Doctor Manhattan… that's all in the first issue. It was only a matter of time before the two worlds merged together to create the core of Doomsday Clock, but that moment came and went in the first pages of Doomsday Clock #2, leaving fans with a whole lot more than we expected. There’s a crisis in Gotham, but this time it’s an existential one.

This review contains spoilers. 

Doomsday Clock #2 is both a beginning and an ending to a story that unravels the characters in the DC Universe as we know it. Aside from the Watchmen and newDoomsday Clock characters introduced in the first issue arriving in Gotham City, #2raises HUGE questions about the very science behind the DC Universe’s map of characters.

The biggest plot mystery lies beyond the last page of the issue and in the truthfulness of what is dubbed, ‘The Superman Theory,’ detailed in The Bulletin and Daily Planetarticles filling the last three pages. It presents more of a thematic issue coupled with Ozymandias and Rorascah’s individual mission. Doomsday Clock takes place a year later than DC’s present continuity, making this world where all heroes are believed to be villains and constructs of the government a tease for the future. What’s to come backtracks from the foundation of hope in which the universe was predicated. Everything we know about metahumans--starting with Metamorpho and Man-Bat--could be an act of deception.

Doomsday Clock #2 calls forth an old Invasion story arc, recently explored in last year’s TV crossover event between The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow.Basically, The Dominators invade Earth to learn more about the metagene so they can develop it for themselves. It’s an arms race. Who can become the most powerful? And that’s what’s happening in Doomsday Clock right now. Russia appears to be controlling America’s media narrative behind the scenes (as we saw in the most recent Presidential election). Lex Luthor and Wayne Enterprises compete for the best technology as we learn the American government may be responsible for the majority of the metahuman population, which is much higher in the United States than anywhere else. Coincidence? I have a feeling Geoff Johns doesn’t believe in coincidences… definitely not when Doctor Manhattan is involved.

The latest issue also sees the events that started Watchmen come full circle. The Comedian is back, and he shoots Lex Luthor with a bullet meant for Ozymandias.Watchmen began with an end and Doomsday Clock is doing the same, setting up a future we haven't really gotten to yet. Because of this, this issue deserves a few reads, not necessarily to find more clues about the Superman Theory, but because Johns and Frank have crafted tiny clues within each character’s study.

One such example is the real meaning behind the presence of Marionette and the Mime. Why does Marionette represent a piece of Doctor Manhattan’s humanity? Can the Mime really make his imagination reality? After only a brief introduction, these new characters are let loose in the DC Universe. Wherever each of them ends up first should be a clue about their purpose and place in the story and what will be history when the DC Universe continuity catches up once Doomsday Clock is complete.

The Comedian’s return is the most surprising plot twist so far. Simply making this Comedian the DC Comics version doesn’t seem like Johns’ line of thinking. It’s got to be more complicated, perhaps even more complicated than Doctor Manhattan bringing him back to life. What’s more, how did The Comedian know Ozymandias was at LexCorp? Are he and Lex working together? Why is the new Rorschach so willing to go along with Ozymandias’ plan?

What’s most intriguing about Doomsday Clock isn’t anticipating the twists and turns, it’s a philosophical questions that trickle down to each individual character. Who controls the narrative? The government? The people? The media? Don’t be fooled, these invisible hands are the real antagonists.

At this point, the only person we can name who could have the most direct impact is Doctor Manhattan. Why did we finally learn that the elements radiating off his skin make him blue? Does he have the power to activate the latent metahuman gene, and if so, is he pursuing the idea that if everyone's super, no one is? He may have recognized that his greatest weakness is being all powerful, therefore he’s creating these metas as a safeguard against his own. The very idea of an all-powerful man can skew the world into an arms race and a competition for survival that has led humans to regress back into the very savages we were back when we were hunting our own food.

Who has propelled the Superman Theory into truth is the surface-level question Johns is using to disguise this existential deep-dive into the DC Universe and its origins, but it’s likely we’ll find our answers as we get to know who this new Rorschach is and why Ozymandias is taking part in yet another dubious mission to save the world with Doctor Manhattan. With the guidance of John’s inclusion of DC characters--small, large, and from varying nooks and crannies of the DC  history--hopefully all these perspectives will eventually give us a clearer picture of the story this crossover is dying to tell.

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'The Gifted' star thinks there’s no happy ending for mutants

Dumont talks Magneto, Professor X and the future of The Gifted.

Every conversation, every scene in The Gifted has a larger meaning. It’s what makes the X-Men series feel so big, despite being filled with lesser known characters. The fall finale was no different. The Stepford Cuckoos make their debut, telepathically forcing more than a dozen Sentinel Services agents to open fire on one another. This happens only hours after Agent Turner’s lengthy, and somewhat enlightening, conversation with the Strucker parents that culminated in an agreement to transport the captured Mutant Underground’s allies away from Trask Industries where Dreamer was murdered.

“It was very important the conversation included the wives,” series star Emma Dumont told Player.One. “We’ve seen conversation between Jace and Reed. It’s bigger than just these men and their egos, there are bigger risks. And it foreshadows that the X-Men say a war is coming -- this scene specifically shows it may not just be a war between two parties. What does that mean for the mutant underground and the Struckers, and what does it mean for Lorna? There are so many factors that we get into in the last three episodes.”

At this point in the series, we don’t know much about the deadly “7/15” event that is tied to the disappearance of the X-Men and the Brotherhood, but the nature of the Stepford Cuckoos’ introduction was so ruthless, so dark, there’s no doubt Agent Turner is done hearing out the Mutant Underground.

“We can talk about 7/15 all day long and obviously understand what it’s a reference to, but until we actually see a mutant commit a horrible crime like this, we aren't gonna understand why Jace is the hero of his own story,” she said. “The fact that this sweet little blonde girl could make armed, trained men do these things -- it's terrifying. But not only can she can do it, she will do it. We could kill each other every day of our lives, but we don't, because we have empathy. That's what makes us different than other animals. But to see someone who really doesn’t have that... The audience needed to see it.”

Dumont explains the scene highlights The Gifted’ s ongoing exploration of prejudice. You cannot blame an entire group, especially an entire minority group, for the terrible actions of one person. But for Polaris, the incident was particularly jarring because the Stepford Cuckoos actions are sort of an irrational version of her own Magento-esque mutant code. It’s a kill-or-be-killed world, but there are rules.

“If you are using your mutant ability, using mayhem and violence and chaos, and you are not saving someone… Lorna thinks it’s fine, kill Hitler, it’s totally fine, but if you are doing things that don't benefit other people, that is disgraceful. Reed, in her mind, isn't helping anyone. Putting those mutants away, ripping up families, those are bad things and they are not redeemable,” Dumont said. “However, if someone like Magneto were to kill one bad human and save hundreds of innocent mutant lives, that is okay with her, she sees the good in that. It’s a very sketchy fine line, but to her it’s very clear thinking. Lorna thinks it makes total sense.”

Eclipse doesn’t see it that way, and his relationship with Polaris illustrates the dynamic between Professor X and Magneto (and their real life counterparts) from the comics and cinematic universe.

“It’s an exact parallel to Professor X and Magento. Marcos wants peace. He will sit by and have change happen slowly. He thinks any change is good change, and Lorna won’t have it. She definitely believes if we all started acting a lot more, using our powers and taking a stand. If that means violence than so be it. But if things continue the way Marcos wants them to continue, then things will never change,” Dumont continued.

“The difference between slavery and current-day hate crime, it’s a difference but we are still living in a world where horrible things happening to minority groups -- innocent people being hurt and killed -- and it's not okay. And Marcos sees those two time periods and says, ‘Oh, but look how different it is now? Now, people don’t own mutants, they just abuse them and hurt them.' But to Lorna that's an awful way of thinking. She thinks if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything. She has a very Magento way of thinking politically. In the eyes of justice, that's the right thing to do.”

Like Magento, Polaris isn’t even sure there is a place for people like Strucker -- who have only recently displayed a willingness to understand the mutant cause -- to be part of the way society moves forward to create equality.

“Someone that’s been raised up in bigotry, who now works for the government, not only do they do that because they are passionate about ‘protecting the general public,’ they are paid to do this. They get paid to hurt people. So, of course, the end goal we all say is to make this a peaceful environment for mutants and humans to live in together. But Lorna doesn’t know if that is possible. She’s almost to the point where she thinks these people need to be taken away,” she said.

The X-Men universe is defined by what exists between love and hate. Mutant discrimination never stops, political initiatives are never enough to incite real social change, the scientific experiments only get more invasive -- and The Gifted will be no different.

“There will never be a happy ending, especially in the X-Men universe,” said Dumont. “The fall finale was heartbreaking in every way imaginable. On an individual level, people start to get what they want, but then in the overall goal of making peace between mutants and humans, it sort of falls apart.”

Dumont teases big things for the last few episodes, including an internal struggle about her character’s place in surviving such an oppressive world -- a story arc Dumont isn’t shy to compare to that of Magneto. With a child on the way, Polaris will finally come to terms with what she believes needs to be done.

“She has this reputation, but finally now she’s at a place where she doesn't care. She doesn't care if you don't like things about her because she is right. And she hates that she’s right -- we will see this in the last few episodes -- she hates that Magneto was right. She wishes it wasn't this way, but it is, and she has to do what she has to do.”

The Gifted returns Jan. 1.

Originally published on Player.One.



"Crisis On Earth X" crossover tests the future of comic book television

This review for Crisis on Earth X Crossover Part 1 & 2 contains spoilers. 

There’s a moment in Part 2 of the Crisis On Earth X crossover where Oliver lays on the ground half-conscious from an explosion. As he spits out blood, catches his breath and regains his balance, time slows as he watches all the DCTV heroes fighting around him. Heat vision, streaks of red lightning, fireballs, swords and Nazis from an evil parallel universe paint a scene straight out of a comic book. In that moment, this epic television event showed fans how far DC Comics’ TV universe, eventually named “the Arrowverse,” has come since Oliver Queen changed comic book TV forever in 2012.

The Arrowverse has evolved to be greater than anything fans had ever expected—the action from this crossover event is unlike anything we’ve ever seen from an antenna TV channel. While it doesn’t have the production value of high budget Warner Bros. films like Justice League, it does capture moments from the DC comics that the studio struggles to replicate in its live action films. Crisis on Earth X  recreated unbelievable scenes from the comics that made your heart race—Oliver swinging between the scaffolding of a building in construction, Supergirl sleep flying, or Oliver hurling himself into Vibe’s breach. There was never a missed opportunity.

As a standalone crossover, Crisis on Earth X is able to pick up with the cast of every show while fighting their respective villains of the week—ninjas for Green Arrow, King Shark for The Flash, aliens for Supergirl and random timeline intruders for the Legends. In the middle of the battles, the heroes casually discuss if they have RSVP’d to the West-Allen wedding. These brief introductions set the pace of Crisis for the hours to come.

While the Earth-X doppelgangers seem like an easy subject for a crossover, there’s the same timely, deeper meaning that is permeating throughout the entire DC Extended Universe: hope. The resistance on Earth-X vows to bring hope to a darkened world where Nazi’s won in WWII. The face of the opposition is none other than James Olsen’s Guardian (with his American flag SHIELD) and he is the first to die at the hands of Nazi Green Arrow. His murder is a symbol for the fact that everything DC heroes stand for is at stake.

All our favorite heroes gather to the city just 15 minutes into Crisis On Earth X Part 1, their lives seamlessly intertwined. Cisco and H.R. are already working on a way to separate Firestorm after Stein announced his retirement. Heatwave is fascinated by Killer Frost’s sharp icicles as it reminds him of his long lost buddy, Captain Cold. Alex and White Canary immediately hit it off, skipping out on the rehearsal dinner completely. But there are also some surprising serious plot points, aside from the possible introduction of Dawn Allen.

In the middle of rehearsal dinner, Oliver casually proposes to Felicity. Though he doesn’t get down on one knee because he’s supposedly still sore from fighting ninjas, he offers a lifetime of commitment to Felicity. But her answer would offend Olicity shippers—She declines, explaining she doesn’t believe in marriage. Felicity is just as committed as she would be with a ring, but prefers their relationship as is. Even though she persists, “No Oliver, I won’t marry you,” a little bit louder than she should have (a cringeworthy moment for Oliver), he doesn’t resent her for her unexpected answer. And either way, Oliver and Felicity have a lot of bigger problems on their hands.

Nazis interrupt the wedding ceremony and it’s the first time we see all the main characters fighting in their plain clothes. Wally West pulls some wild martial arts movies, catching bullets and tossing them back like Michael Jackson with superspeed abilities. Kara claps her hands and releases a burst of air that knocks over an entire room of Nazis. Killer Frost and Heatwave launch fire and ice back to back. It’s beautiful, organized mayhem.

The heroes manage to hold off their Earth-X counterparts and capture Prometheus, which reveals one of the episode's biggest twists. It’s not Adrian Chase behind the mask, but Tommy Merlyn, the first main character of Arrow to be killed off all the way back in Season 1. It was short lived fan service, as Tommy kills himself to avoid interrogation, but there’s immense resolution. Oliver finally gets at least a little bit of closure from his old best friend.

It’s in the wake of Nazi-Oliver’s best friend’s death that we learn Overgirl and Arrow are actually married on Earth-X. The real reason Arrow is involved in Eobard Thawne’s (yes, Earth-1 Eobard) plan to overtake Earth-1 is because Overgirl is dying. She’s been exposed to too much solar radiation and needs a heart transplant from Earth-38 Supergirl, Kara Danvers. But Thawne and Green Arrow’s two separate missions spark a divide within the Reich. Thawne is worried Arrow’s love for Overgirl will come in between his plan to turn a red prism (aka sublight generator) stolen from Earth-1 into a nuclear bomb.

And after the reveal of Thawne, Green Arrow and Overgirl’s plan, we’re left with a 20 minute battle scene. It starts with Oliver riding to the fight on a motorcycle and the show’s most memorable line: “Superspeed. I don’t have it.” The street-level hero proves to be the Batman the Arrowverse can never have with the reveal of his Kryptonite Arrow. How Oliver Queen managed to acquire Kryptonite is anyone's guess, but the comic book fan in us won’t ask any questions. If we think, too much, we’d have hour-long discussions about how Eobard Thawne is still alive even though he was killed by the all powerful grim reaper of the speed force, Black Flash.

By the end of Crisis On Earth X Parts 1 and 2, our heroes are stuck on Earth-X in an internment camp. The stakes are higher than ever and parts 3 and 4 are bound to be even more action-packed than the first. While we still don’t know how Green Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and the Legends will escape Earth-X and return home, one thing is for sure: this is the future of TV and we can thank Arrow for it.

Review: 9/10