BEFORE WATCHMEN (2012)
A prequel to 1986’s WATCHMEN, BEFORE WATCHMEN consisted of eight different limited series. Each limited series, set in various decades of the 20th century, focused on the early careers or lives of characters from the prior series.
The twelve-issue WATCHMEN limited series is sparked by the mysterious murder of an original Minutemen member, the Comedian. Paranoid conspiracy theorist Walter Kovacs, also known as Rorschach, took up the case, believing it to be a plot on behalf of some external agency designed to take out costumed avengers.
Rorschach’s conspiracy theory proved to be not entirely groundless. The murder of the Comedian prompted a more critical look at costumed superheroes from the public, and the scrutiny began to expose cracks in their close-knit community. Debates about whether there’s a place in society for masked vigilantes, and the responsibilities of actual metahumans like Dr. Manhattan, increased in volume, forcing Manhattan to retreat from the public eye.
As Rorschach proceeded further down the rabbit hole of the mystery, he enlisted the help of the second Nite Owl and the second Silk Spectre, despite both of them having officially retired from the superhero business. Silk Spectre began the series romantically involved with Dr. Manhattan, but the two became estranged when, no longer able to relate to or identity with humanity, he left Earth for Mars. She then began a new relationship with Nite Owl.
Their quest eventually brought them face to face with Adrian Veidt, a.k.a. Ozymandias, another former superhero who’d since become a business tycoon and futurist. Eventually, Rorschach was able to uncover the truth of Ozymandias' plans, hidden behind his public humanitarian efforts. Believing it the only way to "save" the world, Ozymandias had engineered a fake "alien invasion" to hit downtown New York, creating mass chaos and costing millions of lives. Ozymandias assumed that, in the fallout, humanity's sense of purpose and belief in the place of heroes within society would be reinvigorated. Thus, his one crisis would ultimately save millions of lives.
The revelation came too late, however, and Ozymandias was able to carry out his plan, leaving the city in ruins and the remaining heroes in disarray.
DOOMSDAY CLOCK (2016-Present)
Following the events of 2016’s DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1, it was revealed that Dr. Manhattan had actually managed to escape the Watchmen universe and arrive within the main DC Universe. His presence greatly disrupted the timeline and inspired the remaining heroes in the Watchmen universe—Ozymandias, a new Rorschach, and two new masked vigilantes, Mime and Marionette—to attempt the same cross-dimensional move.
The twelve-issue limited series DOOMSDAY CLOCK takes place after the events of WATCHMEN, in a world ravaged by Ozymandias's plan, more destabilized than ever.