Panels 1-3: These three panels form one continuous image, which illustrates the setting well, but – through the use of placing gutters within this single drawing – also imbues the scene with its timing. If it had been created as a single wide panel, some might have read the varying pieces of dialogue as having to occur all at once, which would have stretched its credibility and also would have muddled its pacing.
Panel 1: Note the clock in the background is poised at five minutes to midnight.
Laurie’s body language shows her pleasure and slight embarrassment at sharing a look with Dr. Manhattan on the previous page, foreshadowing the relationship we already know they will have in the near future.
The disbanding of the Minutemen in 1949 as mentioned by Captain Metropolis also coincides very closely with what is considered the end of the Golden Age of American superhero comics.
Panel 2: The “new social evils” that Captain Metropolis mentions – “promiscuity, drugs, campus subversion” – create a demarcation between his “older” conservative ideals and the more liberal sentiments of the mid-60s. Coupled with things Hollis Mason cites in the excerpts from Under the Hood, Captain Metropolis (another red, white, and blue hero with government ties) can be seen as a neo-fascist.
News headline: “Dr. Manhattan ‘An Imperialist Weapon’ Say the Russians.”
Also, we see Janey Slater’s reaction to Dr. Manhattan’s flirting with Laurie. She is not pleased.
Panel 5: Note Rorschach’s natural word balloon, in stark contrast to his rough balloons of the present. This scene takes place before the event that changed him into the unhinged, brutal, uncompromising scourge of the underworld that everyone fears in 1985. He also exhibits his penchant for working alone or in small groups, as he does with Nite Owl.
Panel 6: Laurie and Dr. Manhattan are again exchanging a glance in the background. We can also see one of Metropolis’s cards has dropped from his hand as everything he’d hoped for falls apart.