Amid leaks online, DC is officially unveiling details about its upcoming Rebirth event, the first issue of which goes on sale May 25. In a new interview with USA Today, DC's Geoff Johns shines more light on the purpose of Rebirth, as well as helps to explain the major force behind the entire event.
That force is none other than Doctor Manhattan, the all-powerful, god-like being seen in Watchmen. While Watchmen has always been owned and sold by DC, its universe of characters existed completely outside the DC Universe proper. That is changing now, as the superhero creations of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons are officially brought into the fold in a major way.
Johns says Rebirth is about restoring hope and optimism to DC Comics. As such, the antagonist of the event is the Watchmen character deeply rooted in pessimism.
"If you're going to have a conflict between optimism and pessimism, you need to have someone who represents a cynical view of life and also has the ability to affect this," Johns says. "I know it's crazy but he felt like the right character to use."
It's implied that Doctor Manhattan is actually responsible for creating DC's New 52 era of continuity, in which the longstanding history and status quo of many DC characters were drastically altered as a means to create an easier entry point for new readers. Rebirth is a means to return the DC Universe to a pre-New 52 state, bringing back many of the storylines and characters that had gone missing since the New 52 launched in 2011.
Why exactly Doctor Manhattan wished to create the New 52 is still unclear. At the end of Watchmen, Doctor Manhattan does mention he wanted to try his hand at creating "life." Perhaps DC's New 52 was the Doctor's experiment in that department.
With this revelation in mind, the intent behind the Rebirth artwork of the various DC heroes reaching out to touch a mysterious hand is made clear. The image invoke's Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam," a famous painting where mankind, represented by Adam, reaches out to touch the hand of God. In DC's version, Superman can be seen about to touch a blue hand shrouded in lightning, a hand that we can only assume to now belong to Doctor Manhattan.
As for what this means for other Watchmen characters? That remains uncertain. As reported by USA Today, Watchmen's new role in the DC Universe will "unfold in the background over the course of a couple of years."
It's a lot to take in, but it's crazy in a way that should be exciting for longtime DC comic readers. We'll have more on DC Rebirth in the days and weeks ahead.