Batman #21 is ground zero for Watchmen references today. And it's not just the existence of the Smiley Face button (not on the cover of comics sold in Europe over trademark issues).
Tom King and Jason Fabok do a little of what Moore and Gibbons did, and it begins with seeing the Smiley Face in other objects, such as the game of hockey being watched by Saturn Girl in Arkham Asylum. She knows how it ends because she's from the future. But first, we see the ice hockey pitch from above in the fashion of the Smiley Face button, a hockey stick breaking the circle from top left towards the middle, as the blood spatter does to the Smiley Face.
Indeed, there is a Smiley Face on every page in Batman #21 in one way or another. As Batman mirrors Ozymandias.
Before being attacked by the Reverse Flash, revived by the button and the Psycho Pirate mask from a long long reality. It does emphasise the multidimensionality of whatever brought the button here, as well as its power, the way the Pirate sees the multiverse and the reversed yellow and red of the Reverse Flash mirroring the colours of the Smiley Face.
He is the smiley. The creators also use the flashing neon light scene in Watchmen to show the passage of time and to rob the reader of their own reading speed. Here, however, the lights and silhouettes aren't diegetic and the minute countdown of the book, while mirroring the Smiley Face like to the Doomsday clock and other countdowns as well as the ticking of the Watchmen watch, removes one of the innovative elements of Watchmen when showing this kind of scene.
Plenty more to unpack but this is probably your DC Rebirth/Watchmen central comic out today. But it's not alone. Over in Superman, we've become suspicious of Mr Cobb, the milkman.
But it's the moustache and the cigar in subsequent scenes, as well as the shadowed eyes that recall one Watchmen figure. Is this The Comedian? And remember when we talked about the giant squid from earlier issues possibly being a Watchmen reference, only for commentators to dismiss it as just a coincidence?
Becoming a lot less of a coincidence now.
And there are powers from above continuing to meddle in the lives of the Kents, creating neighbours… and friends for them. To keep them under control?
While in Trinity, Superman is laying it on the line for Batman and Wonder Woman.
And continuing to explain Mr Oz who may or may not be Ozymandias, and to be fair at this point, they've stretched it out long enough that it's probably Nite Owl at this point.
And yes, finally, an acknowledgement that Wonder Woman's own timeline has been messed around with.
While in today's Justice League, as the Timeless tried to take the solar system to the end of time, to live out its life in seculsion from the rest of the universe, apparently, something is coming, Something very powerful. Something Manhattan shaped? And attracted by the super people… who have to be destroyed.
As well as predicting the Legion Of Super-Heroes… of whom Saturn Girl is a member…
While over in Superwoman, as the comic tries to rewrite its own reality to keep up with the changes made to Superman that affect Lana Lang's own origin as the character, as well as Lois Lane. And how does it do this?
By basically ignoring it all. Lana Lang has lost her powers – for now. But she did have them, because of the death of New 52, and the way she unwittingly kept his spirit alive. Even if people shouldn't remember that anymore as reality has been rewritten…
And as we saw last week, he is gathering all the Superfolk for the big fight.
Revenge Squad yes, but who is behind them. Will we have Dr Manhattan Red and Dr Manhattan Blue?
Keep smiling. Just remember than Alan and Dave aren't.
Batman #21 by Geoff Johns, Tom King and Jason Fabok, Justice League #19 by Bryan Hitch, Fernando Pasarin and Matt Ryan, Superman #21 by Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Doug Mahnke and Jaime Mendoza, Trinity #8 by Cullen Bunn, Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy and Superwoman #9 by Kate Perkins, Stephen Segovia and Art Thibert.