Alan Moore's dark, 1980s superhero story Watchmen follows a group of vigilantes struggling to find their purpose in an ever evolving world. It was adapted to screen in 2009 by director Zack Snyder, and the novel's cultural impact has been massive since it's release - it's widely considered one of the greatest graphic novels of all time.
With Watchmen earning cult status over the decades, DC began pressuring Moore to create additional stories set in the Watchmen universe. After years of coaxing, Moore eventually declined any further involvement in the series. In response, DC went ahead and began creating their own Watchmen stories, expanding lore and introducing new characters. While Watchmen focuses on a small group of heroes like Nite Owl, Rorschach, Silk Spectre, and Dr. Manhattan, many of these new stories focus on characters who are only briefly mentioned in the original novel. The universe has been growing ever since, and there's a lot to catch up on.
Hollis Mason was the original Nite Owl, before Daniel Dreiberg took on the mantle. Mason was one of the original members of the Minutemen, but he started his career as a New York police officer. After witnessing Hooded Justice flee from a crime scene, he was inspired to create his own crime-fighting alter ego.
After his retirement in 1962, Mason started an auto-repair workshop. Shortly afterword, he was approached by Dreiberg who asked if he could take up the name of Nite Owl. Impressed by Dreiberg's crime-fighting technology, Mason agreed and began mentoring Dreiberg. In his later years, Mason penned an autobiography called Under the Hood that chronicles his journey as a superhero and time with the Minutemen.
Mason is eventually killed by members of the Knot Tops, a local gang, who mistake him for Dreiberg.
Nelson Gardner, better known as Captain Metropolis, is a superhero and founding member of the Minutemen. He was the first costumed vigilante to suggest forming a group to better fight crime, and he reached out to manager Laurence Schexnayder to help achieve this goal. Along with Sally Jupiter, AKA Silk Spectre, the duo founded the Minutemen and put out a call to all masked vigilantes in the hopes of creating a team.
Gardner was involved in a romantic relationship with fellow Minuteman, Hooded Justice. The two of them voted to expel their other partner, The Silhouette, after she was publicly labeled gay. Gardner made the decision to disband the Minutemen in 1949 after a series of PR disasters. Hooded Justice disappeared shortly after, leaving Gardner devastated. In his later years, Gardner attempts to create a new vigilante group, the Crimebusters, consisting of the primary heroes of Watchmen. The group rejects the idea and leaves Gardner dejected. His ultimate fate is left ambiguous.
Ursula Zandt, also known as Silhouette, is an Austrian-Jewish crimefighter and member of the Minutemen. She fled Nazi-occupied Austria after the passing of her little sister at the hands of the Liquidator.
Zandt arrived in New York City and created the Silhouette persona. Her first major bust was the exposing of a lewd child film ring, and she continued to focus on adolescent trafficking for some time. Zandt joined the Minutemen after responding to their open call, but she was disatisfied with the group's obsession with publicity. She continued to operate by herself on the side, investigating youth trafficking rings.
In 1946, Zandt's queer relationship with Gretchen was revealed to the press. This led to her expulsion from the Minutemen, and ultimately her demise. Only weeks after the expulsion, the Liquidator managed to track her down based on information in the newspapers. He slayed Zandt and Gretchen in their apartment, and used their blood to write derogatory phrases on the bedroom wall.see more on Silhouette
Byron Lewis, AKA Mothman, is a member of the original Minutemen team. Lewis is also the fourth person to take on an identity as a masked adventurer, seeking more adventure in his life. Lewis became a millionaire by creating inventions for the aviation industry, eventually crafting the glider suit he uses to fight crime. Due to the strict weight constraints necessary to use the suit, he developed an addiction to several medications and later got involved with alcohol. His mental health deteriorated by the 1960s, and he was committed to an asylum in Maine.see more on Mothman