Watchmen: Why Regina King's Sister Night is the Best New Superhero on TV

HBO's Watchmen series has a lot to offer fans. Not only does the new series give fans a continuation and expansion of the world created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in the original comic book series of the same name, but it takes on issues that, despite being part of an alternate history, are as relevant as anything you'd find in current events today. In order to take on those issues, Watchmen has also introduced new stories and new characters completely unique to the series and it's one of those characters that may just be the best new superhero on television: Regina King's Sister Night.

Sister Night, real name Detective Angela Abar, is Watchmen's central character. In the series, Angela is introduced as a retired Tulsa Police officer turned baker, having left law enforcement after surviving a massacre known as "White Night" in which the terroristic white supremacy group the Seventh Kavalry attacked the homes of all known Tulsa police, killing most of them. Of course, viewers soon learn that Angela isn't really retired. Her bakery is largely a front, a place for her to suit up to carry out her work as a detective dressed as a nun known as Sister Night.

Sister Night is a force to be reckoned with for sure but make no mistake: Sister Night isn't just smacking around racists in an attempt to stop their hatred and violence -- or presumably any other type of bad guy. She's so much more and it's that complexity, nuance, relatability, and the incredible, butt-kicking performance by King that elevates Sister Night as one of the best.

First, let's talk about that complexity. Without a doubt, Sister Night has a plenty of superhero characteristics. Codename? Check. Cool "super suit"? Check. A drive to see justice done? Big check there. She's even got a "tragic" origin story in the form of "White Night," but at the same time Sister Night is not defined by any of those elements. Instead, she's more defined by her humanity. In the series' first episode, "It's Summer and We're Running out of Ice" we get to see Angela as a human being first. She's doing the mom thing at career day; she's having a warm family dinner with close friends. She has passionate sex with her husband. We're introduced to her alter ego second, but even as Sister Night goes to round up a racist and toss him into her trunk because he "smells like bleach," we feel not just her righteous rage, but the human depths of that. One of her own, a police officer, has been gravely injured. When she goes ham on the racist, that's as much for her as it is for the pursuit of information for the case. Justice, for her, is personal.

She's also very relatable, largely due to that humanity-forward presentation. When Sister Night has to help take Chief Judd Crawford's (Don Johnson) body down, you feel her pain even though she's wearing her mask. And it isn't just her emotional completeness that makes Sister Night a truly great character. Sister Night is smart and resourceful in a realistic way. She is, in a sense, very much like a real-world Batman. She's got her "cave" in the form of the bakery, and, in a very real sense, Angela Abar is a mask she wears much like Bruce Wayne is Batman's, and her detective work is sharp. Her use of the Greenwood center to test Will Reeve's DNA is brilliant, a move that is both something a regular person might think up and some Batman-level detecting.

There's also a lot to be said for the fact that Sister Night isn't just a female hero and isn't just a black female hero. She's a hero figure that represents a "real" person. She's middle aged and that is significant because heroes -- especially female ones -- are usually portrayed on the younger side and designed to appeal to the "male gaze." That isn't to say that King isn't an attractive woman, but it's groundbreaking and refreshing to see a hero that could be a real woman, someone who might even be your own neighbor, on screen, one whose appearance isn't' tailored to appeal to stereotypical standards of attractiveness. And when it comes to King's portrayal of Angela/Sister Night, she is killing it -- so much so that in a very real way the answer to "why is Sister Night the best new superhero on television" is simply just "because Regina King is a badass."

Human, complex, totally badass, Sister Night is an incredible addition to superhero television and it will be one wild ride seeing just exactly where her story goes.


Watchmen airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.