"You can't heal under a mask, Angela. Wounds need air."
—Will Reeves to Angela Abar
William "Will" Reeves is a main character in HBO's Watchmen. He is commonly referred to as the "Old Man". Later, it is revealed that he was in fact the costumed vigilante and Minutemen member Hooded Justice.
- 1 Biography
- 1.1 Early Life
- 1.2 Officer Reeves
- 1.3 Becoming Hooded Justice
- 1.4 Joining the Minutemen
- 1.5 Fighting the Cyclops
- 1.6 Broken Family
- 1.7 Speaking Out
- 1.8 Early retirement
- 1.9 The Mysterious Disappearance of Hooded Justice
- 1.10 Meeting Doctor Manhattan
- 1.11 Return to Tulsa
- 1.12 Conspiracy in Tulsa
- 2 Powers and abilities
- 3 Physical Appearance
- 4 Personality
- 5 Killed Victims
- 6 Appearances
- 7 Gallery
- 8 Trivia
- 9 References
- 10 Navigation
The Tulsa Massacre
Born Will Williams in 1914, he was the son of O.B. Williams and Ruth Robeson and lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1921, Will Reeves was a child when the Tulsa Race Massacre began. Many white citizens and members of the Ku Klux Klan led a massive attack on black citizens in "Black Wall Street", an area also known as Greenwood where many African-Americans who had built up a prominent middle class resided. Will and his parents hid inside of a movie theater during the attack where Will's mother Ruth played the piano as he watched his favorite silent film, Trust In The Law!, about his favorite hero, lawman of the Old West Bass Reeves.
After watching the film, Will was smuggled out of Tulsa by Ruth and O.B. (who gave Will a flyer he received from the Germans in the First World War) and was taken away in a wagon while several planes bombed the area. The wagon itself was struck down and everyone except Will and a small baby named June Abar were killed. Will woke up miles out of town and took the infant with him. Sometime later he took on the surname Reeves, after his childhood hero Bass Reeves.
Beware the Cyclops
Years later in the 1930s, Will Reeves and June Abar, relocated to New York City and resided in the prominent African-American neighborhood of Harlem. Inspired by his hero, Bass Reeves, Will decided to go into law enforcement and become an official officer of the New York City Police Department. During the graduation ceremony from the Police Academy in 1938, Will was ignored by the Chief of Police and it would be Lieutenant Sam Battle, a fellow African-American police officer, who bestowed Will his badge. He whispered to Reeves "Beware the Cyclops" before officially congratulating him into the police force.
After the ceremony, Will and June shared a drink together at a nightclub. He admitted to June that the police in New York City discriminately kill black people and that the police department just hired him for the good publicity it would bring them. June says that he's an angry man as most African-Americans are due to the racial trauma experienced. Will wonders what he should be angry about, and June reminds him of the murder of his parents at the hands of white supremacists. He says that he doesn't want to live in the past, and June tells him that's why he's angry.
While on his regular patrol, Reeves would catch a man named Fred throwing a molotov cocktail at a Jewish delicatessen. Fred casually walked away as Reeves pursued him and questioned why he did that. Fred suggested that a rat chewed through a wire, setting the place on fire. Will arrested him and took him to the station, but Fred denied starting the fire. Fred claimed that it's a case of mistaken identity, and he asked the other officers who they're going to believe. One officer takes offense when Fred called Reeves a "spook" and told Fred to apologize. Once Fred does, the officer proceeded to take Fred for booking, but not before making an OK hand signal at the desk sergeant.
Will goes to a newspaper stand sometime following this incident whereupon he speaks to a German newspaper vendor. The vendor shows him a copy of Action Comics #1, the first issue of comic books which depicts the superhero, Superman. Will seems to identify with Superman because, like him, his parents shipped him away from the destruction of their home, to hopefully give him a better life. While looked over the comic book, Fred bumped past Will and snidely smiles when Will calls him out for it. Reeves returned to the station and asked the desk sergeant if he released Fred. The desk sergeant pleaded to Will to let it be, warning him that he'll be in serious danger if he doesn't drop it.
Reeves was on his way home when three officers pulled up and offered him a ride home and then invited him for a beer. When Reeves refused, they drive off and Reeves pictures them dragging two bodies behind them on the police car. Just like during the Tulsa riots all those years back. The officers drive back, cutting Reeves off as he walked through an alley and then beat him up.
Later, the officers drag Reeves to a tree and string him up. They cut him down at the last moment and tell him to keep his black nose out of white folks' business or the next time they won't cut him down. Once they leave, Reeves looks at the hood they put over his head before they strung him up.
Becoming Hooded Justice
Donning the Mask
Reeves walked home angered, with the noose still around his neck, and heard a woman scream. Tearing eye holes into the hood, Reeves puts it on and attacks the men attacking the woman and her husband. He viciously beats the robbers unconscious, and the couple thank him before running off.
Later, Reeves returned home and told June that he's angry. She hugs him, crying. The next afternoon, June tends to Will's injuries. She says that the newspapers are calling the masked Will a hero. June asks why Will put the hood back on and asks what the name of the movie was that he watched as a boy. Will remembers that it was Trust In The Law!, and says that it ends with Bass Reeves in a hood lassoing a crooked sheriff. He says that eventually the theater was burned down in the Tulsa race riots, and June tells him that he'll get justice by wearing the hood and letting people believe he's a white man. She puts white makeup around his eyes and asks if he really wants to do this, and Will says that he's sure.
Reeves, now known as Hooded Justice, figures that Fred is involved with the Cyclops. He watched as Fred and members of the Ku Klux Klan go into the back of a grocery store that Fred is the owner of, and then breaks in and takes out the KKK members inside. Once Hooded Justice has taken them down, he finds a book on Mesmerism. A man attacks him and they burst into the grocery store. Fred fires a shotgun at Hooded Justice, who dives out the window.
Meeting Nelson Gardner
Sometime later, June and Reeves are eating dinner, when there's a knock on the door. Nelson Gardner arrives and introduces himself. June refuses to leave them alone. Gardner tells Reeves that he's there on behalf of a costumed adventurer named Captain Metropolis. He tells him that Metropolis would like to form a team of patriots and heroes, with the name being The New Minutemen. When Reeves wonders what any of this has to do with him, Gardner says that the team needs Hooded Justice since he's the one that inspired him and others like him, and has concluded that a cop is feeding Hooded Justice information on criminals, and believes Reeves is that cop.
Reeves and Gardner begin a sexual affair, with the former agreeing to work with him and the rest of the Minutemen. Gardner informs him that because he's black he can never reveal his real identity to the other members as some of them won't be as accepting of an African-American vigilante on their team as he is.
Reeves explains to June that he is joining the Minutemen stating that he cannot take on Cyclops alone. She reminds him that the Minutemen only care about the publicity of having Hooded Justice will do for their reputation.
Joining the Minutemen
As Reeves puts on his white makeup, he looked at the newspaper clippings of Nazism in the U.S. as well as his own exploits as Hooded Justice. He then joined the other Minutemen to be introduced to the press by Captain Metropolis. Hooded Justice stated that he has evidence of a secret conspiracy, but Metropolis interrupted him and stated that a major crime is being planned by Moloch, and unveiled a racist poster from their sponsor National Bank, featuring the bank's hired hero and Minutemen member, Dollar Bill. Will returned his room and removed his hood and makeup feeling dejected.
Reeves' sexual relationship with Nelson Gardner was soon known, and Larry Schexnayder, the team's manager, persuaded him to be more cautious and suggested he tried to be closer to Sally Jupiter when in the public eye. He also persuaded Jupiter to date him.
Attacking the Comedian
In 1940, after the Minutemen's photo had been taken, Sally Jupiter stayed in the room to change, and Eddie Blake attempted to sexually assault her. Reeves walked into the room realizing how long she was taking and caught Blake on the ground over her with his pants down, and she appeared to be almost unconscious. Reeves charged toward Blake, and violently assaulted him. After being brutally attacked by Reeves, Blake coughed up blood and stated, "This is what you like, huh? This is what gets you hot..." Reeves angrily replied, "Get out!," and demanded Jupiter to put some clothes on.
Fighting the Cyclops
In 1947 while on duty, Reeves gets summoned to a movie theater after a violent riot broke out. The police send him in and bring out the black patrons, and talks to a woman named Lorna. Lorna says that there was a flicker when the picture started. Later they told her that she hurt people, but Lorna doesn't remember. Reeves figures that it involves Cyclops and the book on mesmerism that he found, goes out, and sees men loading projection equipment into a truck labeled F.T. And Sons that's going to a warehouse.
Later outside the warehouse, Reeves called Nelson Gardner at his home to inform him that Cyclops is using mind control against black people and demanded him to get the other Minutemen to come down and help him. Gardner casually dismissed Reeves' plea as nothing serious, not believing that Cyclops is using mind control and stated that the residents of Harlem naturally cause violence on their own, and explained to him that his mission just isn’t something that the Minutemen will do since it doesn't fit their public image. Gardner told Reeves that he is going to have to solve "black unrest" all on his own, and then proceeded to invite him over. Enraged, Reeves hung up and smashed the receiver into the phone leaving him in tears. Fred was outside watching and told Reeves that he doesn't recognize him, since he's familiar with all the cops that walk this beat. He then offered Reeves free steaks, and he realized that Fred owns the warehouse and doesn't remember their first interaction. When Fred casually insulted Reeves, he shot him in the head; instantly killing him. Reeves then puts on his hood, goes into the warehouse, and finds the other Klansmen and the police working on the projection equipment. He proceeded to shoot them and discovered the projector plans. He then stormed into the next room where the officer from the station is preparing a subliminal film about how blacks should only attack each other and never harm whites. Will's gun is empty so he strangled the officer with the microphone cord. Will then gathered the bodies, poured gasoline on them, and burned them. Before leaving, Reeves stole one of the projectors, and proceeded to walk out of the warehouse, but stopped to watch it burn into the ground
Facing the Consequences
Reeves returned home with the projector and witnessed Marcus putting on his white makeup and wearing a noose around his neck. The boy stated that he's like Will. Horrified, Will dragged him into the kitchen, angrily removed the noose from his son's neck and forcefully tried to remove the makeup from his face while his son pleaded for him to stop. June stormed into the kitchen and snatched Marcus away from Will. June told him that he can't ever take it off because he can't stand to see himself now. June explained that she thought that if Will became Hooded Justice it would help him get rid of his anger, but has now realized that being Hooded Justice only fed his anger. June told Will that she and Marcus are going back to Tulsa, and demand for him to stay away from them, leaving Will depressed and all alone. With no choice Reeves honored her request and never made any contact with her or their son to keep them safe.
Joining the Black Officer Union
Reeves continued to work as a police officer as rose to the rank of lieutenant. He later became a spokesperson for the New York City Police Department's Black Officers Union, which has spoken out against the Minutemen's prejudicial approaches to vigilante policing.
Defying the House Un-American Activities Committee
The House Un-American Activities Committee subsequently demanded that all masked vigilantes reveal their identities to a congressman. Reeves refused to comply. Reeves, as Hooded Justice, spoke out about his decision in an ad published in the Amsterdam News, a leading black newspaper, in which he stated "At this time, I am not prepared to share my truth to the world. And I will certainly not bow to the bullying of this racist Congress. For as long as the structures of law and order are controlled by corrupt elites whose singular, cyclopean focus is to protect and fortify the interests and flourishing of the ruling majority, I will never surrender my mission to help the invisible and the oppressed." This action surprised many and caused some of his former Minutemen teammates to distance themselves from him.
Calling Out Vigilantism
In an interview with the Amsterdam News, Reeves stated that he praised Hooded Justice for speaking to the concerns of the black community, however, he believed that it's time for HJ and the other Minutemen to retire from vigilantism and allow the police to do their job in policing, believing that the public deserved watchmen they can trust.
Leaving New York
In Fall 1955, Reeves told Nelson Gardner that he decided to take up an early retirement from the New York City Police Department and expressed an interest in traveling abroad. Reeves made it clear to him that he never wanted to see him again after almost ruining his life.
Letter to Nelson Gardner
In 1966, while traveling through San Francisco he sent a scathing letter to Nelson Gardner to inform him that he heard from a mutual friend of theirs about his newfound friendship with Adrian Veidt and his new desire to form a new team of costumed adventurers dedicated to fighting crime in the inner cities.
Return to New York
After his travels, Reeves took up residence in Harlem and took up work at a local movie theater in 1975.
The Will of Nelson Gardner
Before Nelson Gardner's death in a car crash in 1974, he had his will modified so that Reeves would be the sole beneficiary of his estate. Following his death, Gardner's executors tracked down Reeves at the Harlem movie theater he worked at and presented him with the contents of Gardner’s will on March 3, 1975. Reeves accepted the role and became the beneficiary of Gardner's estate and the Minutemen Franchise LLC. Reeves would also buy that theater a year later.
The Mysterious Disappearance of Hooded Justice
Rumor and Speculation
In the years following the disappearance of Hooded Justice from the public eye, rumors and speculation developed about the whereabouts of HJ and who he really was. One notable theory came from fellow Minutemen member and New York City police officer, Hollis Mason, who wrote in his book, Under the Hood, about the connection between HJ and Rolf Müller, a German circus strongman, whose body was found washed up on the shores of Boston Harbor in 1956. Adrian Veidt looked into Hooded Justice's disappearance when researching his crimefighter predecessors. Veidt learned that the Comedian, while under the orders of J. Edgar Hoover, attempted to unearth Hooded Justice shortly after his disappearance but reported failure. Veidt suspected that Blake had found and killed Hooded Justice, but reported failure to his superiors, although he admitted that he could not prove this. With the exception of the late Captain Metropolis, none of the other Minutemen except Mason, Mothman and Silk Spectre knew of HJ's real identity as Will Reeves.
Meeting Doctor Manhattan
A Visit From Doctor Manhattan
In 2009, Reeves is visited by Doctor Manhattan, who has recently taken on the human identity of Calvin Jelani, at his mansion in New York City. Reeves doesn't believe Manhattan and shuts the door on his face. Manhattan, however, walked through the door and followed Reeves into his study room, which convinced him otherwise. Manhattan explained to Reeves that their lives have become entangled in the most profound way imaginable, but that his ability to preconceive and influence future events is limited and in order to ensure an optimal outcome he offered to form an alliance. Manhattan informed Reeves that he knew of his former identity as Hooded Justice and that he has a granddaughter named Angela Abar, daughter of his late son, Marcus. Manhattan told Reeves that they will soon be married and move to Tulsa, Oklahoma where Abar will become a police officer and that she will need her grandfather's help in the year 2019. Manhattan explained to Reeves that he is speaking simultaneously to him in 2009 and to Abar in 2019, and that she wants to know how he knew Judd Crawford was a member of Cyclops, and how he knew he had a Klan robe hidden in his closet. Reeves told Manhattan that this is the first time he has heard Crawford's name. This created a grandfather paradox since Abar indirectly gave Reeves the idea to head to Tulsa and go after Crawford.
Return to Tulsa
Meeting Angela Abar
In 2019, Reeves resurfaced to his childhood home, Tulsa, Oklahoma, as a wheel-chair bound senior citizen who would sit outside of Angela Abar's yet to be open bakery, Milk & Hanoi. He asked Abar if her bakery would ever open and cryptically asked her if he could lift 200 pounds.
Killing Judd Crawford
Reeves used a spike strip to stop Judd Crawford's car. As Crawford goes out to inspect the damage, Reeves confronted him using a modified version of the Cyclops film projector. Now under his control, he has Crawford roll him and his wheelchair over to a nearby tree. Reeves informed Crawford that he knows about the Klan robe hidden in his closet. Crawford stated that the robe belonged to his late grandfather, Dale Dixon Crawford, and that he has a right to keep it as it is his legacy. Reeves retorted that if Crawford was actually proud of his legacy then he shouldn't have to hide it. Crawford angrily replied that Reeves doesn't know anything about him, so Reeves, well aware of his true identity and his connection to the Cyclops, coerced Crawford into hanging himself.
Later, Abar would receive a call from Reeves stating that he knew her true identity as a police officer and to come find him and not wear a mask. After going after Reeves, Abar found to her shock Chief Judd Crawford hung from a tree. After bringing Will back to Milk & Hanoi, Abar interrogates Reeves on his true identity. Reeves claims responsibility for killing the Chief of Police which Abar doesn't believe. He at first tries to convince her he is Doctor Manhattan and has superpowers which Abar doesn't buy and Reeves admits is a lie. Reeves then tells Abar that Crawford was involved in a vast and insidious conspiracy in Tulsa but that he had to give it to Abar in pieces. Abar leaves after learning the Tulsa Police found Crawford's body but not before taking Will's mug of hot coffee she gave him, which contained his DNA.
Abar takes Reeves' DNA to the Greenwood Center for Cultural Heritage to test it outside of the police. Later on, Abar finds Reeves still at the bakery but seemingly having been able to escape his handcuffs to go buy eggs and come back. The Greenwood Center then calls the bakery and reveals to Abar that Reeves is in fact her grandfather and Reeves asks Abar if her parents ever mentioned him before. Abar then decided to arrest Reeves. However, after getting Reeves inside of her car, a mysterious ship attaches a cable to it and takes Reeves away. He drops the WWI German flyer back down for Abar.
Conspiracy in Tulsa
The Greater Plan
When Abar and FBI Agent Laurie Blake visit Lady Trieu for information on the ship that stole Abar's car, Trieu tells Abar (in Vietnamese) that Reeves would like his Nostalgia pills back, which he left in her car. Abar responded back that he could come to get them himself. Later on, Reeves is shown in person with Trieu and it is revealed the both of them are in on the conspiracy in Tulsa which involves a great plan. Reeves admits that he came into his granddaughter's life and turned it upside down, but that he is committed to the greater plan. He is shown standing for the first time revealing his feebleness to be an act.
Powers and abilities
Will remains shrouded in mystery. He is over one hundred years of age and yet is capable of casual conversation. Although he admits his memory is fading and that his Nostalgia pills help him in his old age. He appears to be wheelchair-bound and feeble but later is shown capable of being able to stand up and it may all be an act.
- Expert Combatant: In his youth, Will Reeves was an aggressive and even violent fighter with immense fervor and determination. This skill was only amplified by his repressed rage and athletic build. Given his advanced age of 105, it is unlikely that his skills are what they once were.
- Master Investigator: Will Reeves is a highly skilled, highly ranked detective. Reeves investigated Cyclops' crimes and movements and made the connection of the group's plans of using mind manipulation on the black community.
- Master Manipulator: Will Reeves was able to fool his granddaughter, Angela Abar, who is a skilled detective in her own right, into believing himself to be a feeble old man who is incapable of violent acts. In his youth, Will fooled the media, along with his fellow Minutemen into thinking that he was a white man, using makeup underneath his hood.
- Expert Marksman: Due to his police training Will Reeves is skilled in the use of firearms. He proved to be more than proficient when he took down armed members of Cyclops.
- Old Age: Despite Will's astounding physical preservation, he is slowly losing his memory, which requires him to take Nostalgia pills to retain and relive his past memories.
In his younger years, Reeves was young and handsome. Beautiful, by his on/off again lover. He was in his known for his great strength. In his old age he appears feeble and is almost always seen in a wheel chair. He's lost some of his hair and its become white.
His wife June Reeves mentions how angry he is. This anger is a rage against racial injustice and historical trauma stretching back to the Tulsa Massacre in 1921 but even further back to the his father's experience with racism in WWI. His sense of justice is informed by his experience of acts of racism throughout his life.
- Several members of Cyclops
- Judd Crawford
- "It's Summer and We're Running Out of Ice"
- "Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship"
- "If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own"
- "This Extraordinary Being"
- "An Almost Religious Awe"
- "A God Walks into Abar" (flashback)
- "See How They Fly"
- On September 26, 2019, he was confirmed to appear in the first season.
- Given his parent's surnames, Williams and Robeson respectively, Will may have adopted the surname "Reeves" as a nod to Bass Reeves, the real life American lawman in the Old West whom the younger Will admired. It is also possible, given Bass Reeves having lived and operated in Tulsa, that Will may be a descendant of Bass.
- He confirms this when he tells Angela that he idolized Bass Reeves, and took his last name because he saw him as a hero in See How They Fly.
- It’s noted in Hollis Mason’s memoir, Under the Hood, that Hooded Justice said complimentary things about Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. The Hooded Justice in HBO’s Watchmen is depicted as being vehemently against racism, fascism, and Nazism. Damon Lindelof and his team justified this by looking at how Will Reeves' costume doesn’t just cover his identity, but his race. “Part of Will Reeves’s camouflage in terms of hiding his true identity required making statements like that in the presence of the other Minutemen so as to throw off the scent of who he truly was,” Lindelof said.
- Oklahoma Senator Slams Hooded Justice For Defying HUAC
- MEMO: The Will of Nelson Gardner
- A God Walks into Abar
- MEMO: The Origin Story of "Sister Night"
- Under the Hood: Chapter V
- Chapter XI: Look On My Works, Ye Mighty
- "It's time. @NY_Comic_Con" -Twitter