Warning: SPOILERS for Doomsday Clock #9
Superman may be the first superhero, but he isn’t the most important. DC has revealed the one hero that their entire universe is built on… and it isn’t who most comic fans will expect.
There will be many who disagree, since the “most important DC superhero” is obviously a subjective title. But DC Comics has given as official an honor as they can, revealing the one costumed hero that was the key to everything that came after. Now that Doctor Manhattan’s changes to reality have been explained, the one hero he prevented from existing may be what brings the entire New 52 Universe crumbling down, erasing the future that it should have had.
But before DC Comic fans get too angry, it’s easy to see how Manhattan made his mistake. After all… we wouldn’t have thought that Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern was the key to the universe, either.
- This Page: Green Lantern was Manhattan’s Only Change?
- Page 2: Without Green Lantern, The DC Universe is Doomed
While tragic, there’s a good chance that many Alan Scott fans will be pleased to see him get the recognition he deserves. Especially after DC’s Silver Age re-imagined the Green Lanterns as space cops, putting Alan Scott permanently on the back burner. But his magic ring was just as impressive when it appeared in 1940, even if it isn’t actually Lantern’s powers that make him important to the future of the DC Universe, but his life story. Even if some fans have never actually seen Alan’s secret origin, grabbing onto a shiny green train lantern just as a bridge collapse threatened to take him down long with it.
The lantern’s magic saved Scott, and granted him its powers. Now, it seems that the most important part of that origin story isn’t why Alan was chosen, or even where the energy came important… but the hero he became in the years and decades ahead. So important a hero, it turns out, that killing Alan Scott is the only change that Doctor Manhattan seems to have made to bring everything else tumbling down.
After the initial bombshell reveal of Doctor Manhattan’s role in the New 52 reboot, it was promised that the Doomsday Clock series from Geoff Johns and Gary Frank would provide some answers. And even if the “why” has yet to make sense, the question of “how” Manhattan remade reality has been confirmed. Through his internal dialogue spread across all of time and space, Manhattan explains that the first domino to fall… was pushing the aforementioned Lantern an inch or two beyond Alan Scott’s reach.
The lantern remained dormant, Alan died in the train accident, and the world never knew anything had changed. At least up until now, when Manhattan realizes the entire world is about to die.
Page 2 of 2: Without Green Lantern, The Universe is Doomed
Fans are sure to ask: how could that one act have been the key to heroes and origin stories totally unrelated to Alan Scott? Superman still crashed in a rocket ship years later, regardless. And even if Jay Garrick was a friend of Alan’s, Barry Allen became The Flash thanks to science fiction. They would be partly right, since even without Alan Scott the rest of the New 52 has progressed just fine until now. Doubtful fans are in good company, since it’s only now becoming clear to Manhattan that without Alan Scott, the entire universe is about to end.
His musings about walking through the world and witnessing some of DC’s most iconic moments locations provided the explanation. Move the green lantern away from Alan, and Manhattan can later run his fingers across the large, round, dusty table–almost certainly the iconic meeting table of the Justice Society of America, but now without its heroes to gather around it. As a founding member of the first superhero super-team, it’s believable that without Scott, the Society never successfully formed.
RELATED: The Original Flash Jay Garrick Tries to Return
Without the Justice Society to play its iconic role in uniting the superhero community, and passing on their heroism, their wisdom, and their example to the younger generation, Doctor Manhattan has weakened every hero that comes after. But it’s only when Doctor Manhattan finally looks into the future beyond the present day that he reveals the true damage he has caused.
It’s only in the most recent Doomsday Clock #9 that the true extent of Manhattan’s meddling becomes clear. In the first panels of the issue, Doctor Manhattan continues his habit of blurring past, present, and future together in one endless line of causes and effects. This time looking forward one thousand years into the future, when the heroic Ferro Lad of the Legion of Super Heroes gives his life to save the Earth’s sun (a memorable moment for any Legion fan). An explosion so powerful, it propels Ferro Lad’s ring backwards through time–to rest in Doctor Manhattan’s hand, still speckled with blood.
But that seems to be only a poignant moment in Manhattan’s own past, before he sought to improve the universe. As he muses about shifting the lantern out of Alan Scott’s reach, thus preventing him from becoming the Green Lantern, Ferro Lad’s ring disappears. The ring never existed, in fact. And as he begins to look back a year, a century, a millennium at a time, the future that once existed has also gone dark. Manhattan concludes that he can’t see a future because there is none to see. Even when he considers that it might only be him who dies, that doesn’t change the lack of the ring.
All things considered, this pivotal role as keystone of the DCU is all the tribute to Alan Scott fans need. Like so many before, Manhattan estimated the original Green Lantern to be expendable, or less important. In the end, he proved to be the exact kind of hero the DC Universe needed to live up to its full potential.
Doomsday Clock #9 is available now at your local comic book shop, or directly from DC Comics.
MORE: DC Confirms The New 52 Was Always Doomed