Alan Moore’s Watchmen is one of the greatest graphic novels of all time, and while a lot of people did not like its 2009 adaptation, directed by Zack Snyder, I enjoyed it for what it was.
So, when it was announced that HBO would be creating a follow up series to graphic novel, under Damon Lindelof, I was pretty excited.
And, after watching the first episode, “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice”, directed by Nicole Kassel, I can say that this new show looks to be just as layered and complex as Moore’s original graphic novel, even if Moore has disowned the series just like the 2009 film.
The series takes place 34 years after the story of Watchmen in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where police now wear masks to protect themselves from a white supremacist terrorist organization, inspired by Rorschach, known as the Seventh Calvary.
Before this is revealed, though, the first episode picks up in 1921 with the Tulsa massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in American history where potentially hundreds of black people were brutally murdered.
I found the inclusion of this disturbing scene to be very interesting because not only does it highlight the issues the series will be dealing with but also because it is made clear that this tragedy is somehow influencing the plot of the story.
In fact, one of the child survivors of the massacres appears in the present story as an old man (Louis Gosset Jr.) who goes on to hang the chief of police, Judd Crawford (Don Johnson), at the end of the episode, or at least he claims he did.
What exactly a massacre that happened nearly 100 years ago has to do with the current conspiracy in Watchmen is an interesting question and one I am anticipating to be explored in the future.
As for the present events of the episode, it all does a solid job of building up the story and characters.
Our lead character is Angela Abar, or Sister Night, (Regina King), a police detective who joins in on the manhunt of the Seventh Calvary after they gun down one of her fellow officers.
She already seems to be a very good protagonist, with her looking to eventually be caught up in whatever conspiracy is going on.
Another interesting character is Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson), a costumed detective who has learned how to tell when someone is lying.
Along with these interesting characters and the so far compelling story, the episode also raises a lot of questions.
There are the tiny alien squids that fall from the sky, which are smaller versions of the one Ozymandias sent to destroy New York in the graphic novel.
Then there is Ozymandias’ play about “the watchmaker’s son”, and his incredibly creepy servants.
Finally, there is the question of who really killed Chief Crawford.
This last one looks to be the big question of the season, with Crawford’s death being built up as a mystery just like the Comedian’s was in Watchmen.
The final shot of the episode sees a drop of blood drip onto Crawford’s badge in a clear homage to the blood that dripped onto the Comedian’s badge in the graphic novel.
“It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice” certainly does raise a lot of interesting questions and, with its good story and characters, this provides a solid start.
My one big issue with the episode is how the Seventh Calvary are inspired by Rorschach.
As far as I can recall, Rorschach was not a white supremacist in the graphic novel.
Sure, he was far from a moral character and was bigoted in other ways but he interacted with black characters, like his prison psychologist, who he did not seem to hold prejudices against.
If anything, I think the Seventh Calvary is a group that Rorschach would be fighting if he was still alive.
So, the series acting like he was a white supremacist is actually problematic because anyone watching this show, without reading the graphic novel, would just assume he was one.
Because of this, I do hope the show makes it clear that the Seventh Calvary has warped Rorschach’s ideals to suit their own ends.
Other than this problem, though, I found “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice” to be a solid first entry in the Watchmen TV series and I am interested to see where it goes from here.