It is often said that Watchmen is the most influential comic ever to be released. That comics wouldn’t be where they are without it, for good and for ill. But how did we get here, exactly? More to the point, just what influence did Watchmen provide to the larger world of comics? What, ultimately, is the legacy of Watchmen? Who watched the Watchmen?
The simple version: our topic series has The Question as one of its main characters exposing an apocalyptic conspiracy aimed at the superhero community, prominently features Captain Atom, partially climaxes in a false flag disaster engineered by the world’s smartest man posing as hero, and ends on the question “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (even if the response offers up the fig leaf translation “Who guards the guardians?”). By that metric alone, the widely beloved ‘Cadmus arc’ of Justice League Unlimited is indisputably A Watchmen. Plus Alan Moore liked the one episode. Case closed.
The more significant answer is that to a substantial cross-generational section of the pop culture viewership, the Cadmus arc is Superhero TV Watchmen.