Shortly after the opening scenes of the premiere, the episode title was revealed in bold letters — a clear callback to the comics. In each book, panels of the story were shared ahead of the title, which was also displayed in big, bold letters.
What would Watchmen be without Dr. Manhattan on Mars? Viewers caught a glimpse of the superhuman when a screen broadcasting video from the planet played in the background.
In a presentation during her son Topher’s (Dylan Schmobing) class, Angela (King) demonstrates how to separate egg whites and yolks, creating a makeshift smiley face. Comic fans will recognize the imagery as a callback to The Comedian’s iconic blood-splattered badge from the original story. Note the bloody red spot on the left eye, which is also similar to the badge from the book.
Redford in Office
Robert Redford was set to run for presidential office at the end of the Watchmen comics, and in the HBO series, the actor clearly won the election as he’s been in office for nearly 30 years (see the poster in the background).
It’s Raining Squids
In the comics, a giant squid creature appears out of nowhere in the center of New York City, causing many casualties. But viewers never saw the aftermath of the event orchestrated by Ozymandias. Now, viewers are given a taste of what followed when Angela and her son experience a sudden squid storm. Their calm reaction implies that it’s a common occurrence.
American Hero Story: Minutemen
Throughout the episode, a television series, American Hero Story: Minutemen, is heavily advertised. The program reportedly depicts the masked adventurers fans met in the original graphic novels. The Minutemen were also the first band of vigilantes in that world, as the Watchmen followed some years later.
Same Sign, Different Message
In the books, an unidentified man — who readers later learn is Rorschach — is seen carrying a sign that reads, “The end is nigh.” In the premiere, a similar visual makes an appearance, but the message is different, reading, “The future is bright.”
Many speculate Jeremy Irons is playing Veidt and he’s alive, but we’ll believe it when there’s “proof.” However, the mention of Adrian Veidt (aka Ozymandias) is a nice callback to the original characters of the comics.
In the original books, Rorschach uses physical assault as a means of gaining information from the “bad guys.” Sister Night’s (Regina King) storming of Nixonville to roundup a possible criminal is reminiscent of Rorschach’s own methods, as she collected the man and put him in her trunk.
Watching the Watchmen
During a police debriefing, Chief Judd Crawford (Don Johnson) dismisses his staff with the parting words, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes.” The old phrase which was included in the original novel translates to “Who watches the Watchmen?”
During the premiere, when the police don’t get the information out of their suspect, Sister Night takes him behind closed doors for her own interrogation methods. The water and blood that seep under the door are reminiscent of a particular moment in the comics when Rorschach takes care of “unfinished business” by killing the antagonistic Big Figure before escaping prison.
Is That Archie?
One piece of tech any comic reader would recognize is the flight vehicle used by Chief Crawford and Pirate Jenny (Jessica Camacho) during the ranch raid. It may not be the Owlship (aka Archimedes), but it certainly resembles Nite Owl’s nifty ship.
A Play’s Premise
The Lord of a Country Estate only appeared for a brief time in the premiere, but his presence was certainly thought-provoking, especially when he revealed plans for a play. When his servants asked about the title, his response was “The Watchmaker’s Son.” If readers will recall, the watchmaker’s son in the comic is none other than Dr. Manhattan.
Not unlike The Comedian’s smiley face badge in the comic, Chief Crawford’s police badge is splattered with a familiar smudge of blood in the episode’s final moments. Both visuals are associated with deaths that set to the tone for the story ahead.
[Warning: This gallery contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1, Episode 1, of Watchmen, "It's Summer and We're Running Out of Ice."]
While HBO's Watchmen isn't a reiteration of the original story created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Damon Lindelof's "remix" had plenty for fans of the graphic novel to enjoy.
From mirrored imagery to character traits, there is an abundance of through-lines that tether Lindelof's story to the original, and more are sure to pop up as the series progresses. For now, we're taking a look at the similarities between the new series' premiere and the original comics from the '80s in the gallery above.