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Stats of Exception: Watchmen and Nixon's NSC


This essay approaches the serial comic Watchmen as a meditation on contemporary governance. Watchmen contrasts a Cold War sovereignty of nuclear annihilation with its distribution among a band of masked vigilantes. A parallel account appears in The Tower Commission Report, published near the end of the comic's serial publication in 1987. The diffusion of executive agency from Nixon to his National Security Council requires a re-examination of Giorgio Agamben's claims regarding extra-judicial violence in State of Exception. Not the sovereign but statistical authority now legitimates such violence, a situation on display in today's deployment of drones against terrorists.