Watchmen Brings Back An Iconic Group From the Comic

WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for the latest episode of Watchmen, "Little Fear of Lightning," which premiered Sunday on HBO.

Watchmen has tied itself to the events of the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons multiple times across the series, in both subtle and deep ways. The newest episode of the series, "Little Fear of Lightning," built heavily upon the events of the comic to inform one of the chief characters of the new series, tying him to the Top Knots, a small group of minor characters from the original Watchmen.

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The majority of "Little Fear of Lightning" is centered around Wade Tillman/Looking Glass. The beginning of the episode even reveals that he was a teenager in Hoboken on November 2, 1985. With a group of other Jehovah's Witnesses, Wade was trying to pass pamphlets and convince the various people of the city to turn to the church in the uncertain times of the Cold War. The group of Top Knots there, however, don't end up being particularly receptive to his preaching.

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The gang wears leather jackets and many of the men in the group have their hair up in a specific top knot style. They knock the pamphlets out of Wade's hands and generally intimidate him. One of their number, Roxy, leads Wade into the funhouse at the local carnival. There, she teases him and undresses him before leaving him alone in the hall of mirrors, naked. This cruel prank may have actually helped save Wade's life though, as it meant he was inside when Adrian Veidt unleashed his genetically modified psychic squid onto New York City. Wade exits the funhouse traumatized but alive, unlike Roxie and the other Top Knots -- who all appear among the numerous dead in the streets of Hoboken.

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This group of low-level thugs actually appeared in the pages of Watchmen. The Top Knots were essentially the Watchmen equivalent of skinheads, a gang of violent drug addicts who make their way through the streets of New York City. Many of them lived in New York City, generally being a nuisance to the other residents of the city. They appear in minor roles throughout the original comic, running afoul of Dan Dreiberg and Laurie Juspeczyk (later Blake) in an alley while they're on their way to see Dan's friend/mentor Hollis Mason, the first Nite Owl.

Many of them are injured while unknowingly fighting the superheroes. After Dan and Laurie free Rorschach from prison, the Top Knots decide to get revenge on Nite Owl for all the Top Knots that have been hurt because of the vigilantes. However,  the gang mistakenly blames Hollis for Dan's actions and attacks the older man in his home, with their leader, Derf, killing the Minute Man in his own home. Later in the comic, Dan finds out what happened and outright threatens to kill the entire gang. But he never got the chance, as the arrival of the giant psychic squid from Veidt killed off many members of the gang, along with the majority of the rest of New York City.

The Top Knots encountered by Wade are more street bullies than the brutal killers the comics version of the gang was, but it does show just how pervasive the Top Knot gang was over thirty years ago. It also shows just how devastating and long-reaching the psychic blast from Veidt's creation was, and how far it could reach.

Developed by Damon Lindelof, HBO's Watchmen stars Jeremy Irons, Regina King, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Jean Smart, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Tom Mison, James Wolk, Adelaide Clemens, Andrew Howard, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent, Sara Vickers, Dylan Schombing, Lily Rose Smith and Adelynn Spoon. The series airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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