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The Umbrella Academy Season 2's Watchmen Easter Egg You Totally Missed

Like so many innovative creators working in comics today, The Umbrella Academy's Gerard Way cites Watchmen as a major influence on his work. It should come as no surprise then, that the popular Netflix adaptation of his seminal comic managed to drop a quick Easter egg reference to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' iconic series.

During episode 3 of The Umbrella Academy's second season, we get a quick glimpse of a man holding a sign that reads, "The End is Nigh," a moment that some fans have suggested is an intentional callback to Watchmen. Aside from providing a running motif throughout the original 12 issues of Moore and Gibbons' comic maxiseries, the apocalyptic slogan is the subtitle of a 2009 licensed video game based on Watchmen's world and characters.

The dire allusion certainly squares with everything Way has shared about all the influences that went into The Umbrella Academy. Speaking in reverence of Watchmen, the heady creator told The Guardian, "My comic series, The Umbrella Academy, is absolutely indebted to Watchmen. You don't want to rip somebody off, but you want to explore things they started to explore. Even if it's just characters having an awkward conversation while drinking coffee on a rooftop or in a diner. The fact that the characters in Umbrella Academy already had a history was definitely a nod to Watchmen, too. And the fact that they're all 30 and the fun of their youth is kind of over. I think that anyone who wants to create a progressive comic is going to be influenced by Watchmen."

Considering how much Moore's work has infiltrated the DNA of Way's series, it seems likely that the sign's inclusion in the Netflix series was intended as an explicit Easter egg.

The shadow of Alan Moore's Watchmen looms over all comics and related media

DC Comics published Moore and Gibbons' Watchmen between 1986 and 1987. The creative team's dark, political deconstruction of the superhero genre sent immediate shockwaves through the industry; as this Easter egg in The Umbrella Academy suggests, those shockwaves continue to reverberate to this day.

Speaking of the comic's significance in his own development as an artist, Way said, "The thing about Watchmen that people should know is that when it came out there was absolutely nothing like it ... When I was in high school and listening to a lot of punk rock and watching Taxi Driver, Rorschach was a character I could identify with. And I think he's going to relate to a lot of young people who see [the Watchmen] film. He's angry and he sees the world in the way that I saw the world at the time. As I got older I identified with Nite Owl more. Then, to some extent, I became a lot more interested in the Comedian."

Rorschach, Nite Owl, and Comedian are, of course, all characters from the original 12-issue run of Watchmen. Aside from the nuclear-powered Dr. Manhattan, the superheroes from Watchmen are notable for their absolute lack of any discernible superhuman abilities. Sure, Ozymandias is nominally the smartest person in the world, but that designation seems dubious, especially in light of the comic's controversial ending. This is an obvious contrast with the very real superpowers of the Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy. The influence of Moore and Gibbons' work on Way's story manifests more in the tone and postmodern approach to subverting the archetypes and tropes of the superhero genre.

The Umbrella Academy season 2 is currently streaming free for subscribers on Netflix. Tune in, and see if you can find any more stealthy allusions to comics history.