By Nick Romano
May 08, 2019 at 01:36 PM EDT
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  • Book

The countdown to HBO’s Watchmen series from Damon Lindelof has begun. “Tick tock” goes the first full-length teaser trailer for the tantalizingly cryptic drama based on the dark comic series.

“We are no one, we are everyone, and we are invisible,” says the leader of a mysterious group, all members wearing familiar ink blot masks.

On the pages from writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons, a superhero named Rorschach, hidden by such a mask, kickstarts the comic book story with an investigation into the murders of his fellow heroes. Lindelof, the showrunner of the HBO adaptation, teased some changes to the source material with “new faces” and “new masks to cover them.”

Here, in the new trailer, we see Rorschach’s mask has become inspiration for a new era of masked vigilante, suggesting the show takes place after the events of the comics. At the same time, the official descriptor from HBO calls this “a modern-day reimagining of Alan Moore’s groundbreaking graphic novel about masked vigilantes,” which could mean this is a separate storyline.

The mystery continues to unravel as Golden Globe winner Don Johnson (Miami Vice) emerges as the leader of the police force, the same ones decked out in yellow face masks — the same color as the signature yellow smiley face marred with a red blood streak that denotes Watchmen. “We convinced ourselves that they were gone,” he says, “but they were just hibernating.” Is he talking about superheroes?

HBO

Moore’s story saw intense friction between superheroes and police, the latter of which went on a strike and claimed supes were stealing their jobs. This prompted an anti-vigilante bill to be passed by the government.

“They came for everybody,” the voices in HBO’s teaser continue. “All police.”

The footage goes on to reveal characters played by Oscar winners Regina King and Jeremy Irons, Legion’s Jean Smart, and Aquaman‘s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. All the while the “tick tock” of the clock continues. Irons, seen in a meditative state, is apparently playing an older version of Ozymandias, one of the planet’s sharpest minds, according to a report by /Film. This was confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter. King, meanwhile, appears to be playing one of these masked superheroes forced into “hibernating.”

“This new story must be original,” Lindelof wrote in a letter to the fans, published in May 2018. “It has to vibrate with the seismic unpredictability of its own tectonic plates. It must ask new questions and explore the world through a fresh lens. Most importantly, it must be contemporary… The tone will be fresh and nasty and electric and absurd… Some of the characters will be unknown. New faces. New masks to cover them. We also intend to revisit the past century of Costumed Adventuring through a surprising, yet familiar set of eyes… and it is here where we’ll be taking our greatest risk.”

Whatever “end of the world” this teaser is counting down to, it’s also preparing for the official premiere. HBO will debut Watchmen this fall.

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