Watchmen is the new HBO Original series that takes place after Alan Moore’s famous DC Comics graphic novel of the same name. The series, like the graphic novel, is set in an alternate history where “superheroes” are treated as outlaws and are commonplace in society.
The first episode of the season, “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice,” takes place in present-day Tulsa and opens with a flashback to the Black Wall Street Massacre of 1921 massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It follows Angela Abar (Regina King) as she investigates the attempted murder of a fellow officer by one of the Seventh Kalvary, a group of domestic terrorists marked by their Rorschach-like masks. Before this attempted murder, the Seventh Kalvary had not been active so the fact they are back means a new war is brewing.
In the dystopian, alternative history that Watchmen explores, police officers wear masks, like vigilantes, in order to protect their identities. Because of this, cops have to keep their job a secret. As far as most people know, Angela is a retired officer who now owns a soon-to-be opening bakery. However, the truth is, Angela is a cop who is willing to take justice into her own hands to track down and stop the white supremacist terrorist organization from killing any more of her own. Now, with her fellow officers including police chief Judd Crawford (Don Johnson), they must stop the Kalavry before they all end up dead.
Watchmen is not a direct sequel to the original graphic novel, but it does take place in the same universe and the events of the novel clearly occurred. Early on in “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice,” Angela and her son Topher (Dylan Schombing) have to stop driving due to an extra-terrestrial rainstorm, something directly referencing the original graphic novel’s model ending.
The choice to open “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice” with a flashback of the Black Wall Street Massacre of 1921 massacre in Tulsa sets up the racial tensions that frame the show. The Kalvary, like some of Alan Moore’s fans, have perverted Rorschach’s message and now are using it as a way to instill fear and promote white supremacy.
As a graphic novel, Watchmen has always been culturally important. Despite having such bizarre and fantastical science-fiction elements in it, the story looks at American politics and America’s political climate in an important way. The original focused on cold war tensions and as well as a fictional third term for Nixon. Similarly, “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice” is an updated look at the American political climate that the book originally explored, with a specific focus on racial tensions. A lot of the themes the show explores exactly mirror our own world, most notably the rise of white nationalist terrorism and hate crimes.
Visually speaking the show does a lot to mirror panels of the graphic novel while still being original. The final scene of the episode is a direct take on the famous Watchmen button. Additionally, just like in the book, music plays a big part in the episode with songs adding depth to scenes.
Overall, “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice” is an incredible start for the series and a must-watch for fans of Watchmen or DC Comics. Additionally, fans of political thrillers and superhero shows like The Boys will also enjoy this opener.
Watchmen is streaming now on HBO with new episodes dropping every Sunday at 8pm CT/9pm EST
Watchmen, Episode 1 - "It's Summer and We're Running Out of Ice"
- Rating - 9/109/10
“It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice” is an incredible start for the series and a must-watch for fans of Watchmen or DC Comics. Additionally, fans of political thrillers and superhero shows like The Boys will also enjoy this opener.