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?
Who Watches the Watchmen?
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is a Latin phrase attributed to the Roman poet, Juvenal. It’s most commonly translated to “who watches the watchmen?” Historically, there are two ways of understanding this question: First, under what circumstances does a government have any accountability to the citizenry it provides protection and freedom to? Secondly, it could be interpreted as a comedic absurdity; that the very idea that fallible humans could at any time, in any way, impose, teach or carry out infallible moral claims is paradoxical. Philosophically, the idea of “who watches the watchmen” is answered by analyses of power. In economic terms, for example, John Rawls posits that the behavioral incentives to maintain the rights of the population at large is the only way to guarantee those same rights for yourself. Plato’s Republic also answers this question by proposing the Noble Lie which argues that the narratives and myths of a society are what binds people and governments into carrying out their shared responsibilities. [Read more…] about Who Watched the Watchmen? The Omega Men – The End is Here