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"We convinced ourselves that they were gone... but they were just hibernating."

Who watches the watchmen? A justified question... because nobody saw this coming.

The first teaser for HBO's new 'Watchmen' series dropped on Wednesday, and it looked very different from what anyone was expecting.

Based on the revered 1987 graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the tense one-minute trailer immediately squelched any fears the show would be a pointless replica of Zack Snyder's very faithful 2009 big screen version.

It opens on a close-up shot of Rorschach's distinctive inkblot mask: "We are no-one. We are everyone. And we are invisible," the wearer warns.

But as the camera pans out, it's revealed there are dozens more wearing the masks, suggesting a paramilitary group formed in Rorschach's name — the first of many hints the show may actually be more of a sequel rather than a retelling.

"We convinced ourselves that they were gone... but they were just hibernating," says Don Johnson's Chief Judd to a squad of police officers with uniform yellow bandannas masking their faces, whose task appears to be hunting down the illegal superheroes he is referring to.

Regina King, who plays a character called Angela Abraham, appears to be in league with the police, rocking a face mask and badge. Going by his reflective mask, another colleague may be Looking Glass, who is played by Tim Blake Nelson, although we never get to see his face.

The only character from the original comic to appear in the trailer — or indeed the released cast list — is Adrian Veidt AKA Ozymandias, played by Jeremy Irons, aging him somewhat from the source material.

Other sequel hints include the inclusion of the husband and wife team Marionette and Mime, who only recently appeared in the ongoing comic book sequel to Watchmen, Doomsday Clock.

According to the synopsis, Watchmen is set in "an alternate history where 'superheroes' are treated as outlaws" and "embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel while attempting to break new ground of its own."

In the original comic, Ozymandias fakes an alien invasion to unite the on-the-brink-of-war nuclear superpowers against a perceived common enemy; killing millions in the process but arguably saving billions.

The heroes reluctantly agree keeping the secret is in humanities best interest, bar Rorschach, who is murdered as a result. However the series ends with his all-documenting journal being delivered to a newspaper.

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