What makes a hero? Is it just enough to put on a costume and declare yourself to be one of the good guys? Or do you have to possess a certain moral fortitude? Watchmen is a work that asks that question. What is the difference between a costumed vigilante who fights crime and a one that commits crime? Where is the line between Batman and villainy? In Watchmen #8, our “heroes” have to make some tough decisions. And their actions will have consequences.
Silk Spectre and Nite Owl make their preparations to break Rorschach out of jail. Time is of the essence, as not only is Rorschach’s presence in jail a riot waiting to happen, the police have put the clues together and worked out who Nite Owl is. As the tension mounts, we also discover more clues as to the nature of the overall mystery. Who or what is behind these events?
Our two heroes break into the jail in the midst of a large scale prison riot. They follow the bodies to their very much alive colleague. Now they are on the run, both from the police and who ever seems to have it in for costumed crime fighters. And an innocent will pay the price for their actions.
What is the line between heroism and villainy? Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, and Rorschach all act in un-heroic ways. In this issue alone, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre break the law by putting on their costumes, lying to the police, breaking into a government prison, attacking the law enforcing prison guards, breaking out a prisoner, committing fraud by setting up false identities, and resisting arrest. Add Rorschach’s maiming of one prisoner and murder of at least two more, you really have to ask if these are heroes. These are not white knights upholding the law. Vigilantes are law breakers. Where do they draw the line between what laws to uphold and which ones to break?
It’s an issue of submission. By becoming costumed vigilantes, these people have decided not to submit to the authorities. They have decided not to submit to those who have been appointed to keep the law. Instead, they reject that authority, believing that they can do it better.
As Christians, we are called to submit. We are called to submit to those that God has put in authority over us. “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.” (1 Peter 2:13-14) As Christians, we should always look to play by the rules. If we don’t like the system, we should always attempt to change the rules while playing by the rules. It’s only when we have no other option should we go against those in authority. As I’ve been thinking this issue through today, it’s got me thinking through my favourite super heroes and what they represent. Should a Christian be looking up to these “heroes”? Are they positive role models? Expect an article on this in the near future.