Panel 1: The caption boxes are from President Nixon and his cabinet members and other advisors discussing the ramifications of Russia’s invasion into Afghanistan – a reality that occurred years earlier in our own world.
Nixon’s remark that “if he (i.e. Dr. Manhattan) wanted to live on a red planet (Mars), he should have stayed home” refers to Russia’s military mobilization. Russians, or more accurately Soviets, were called “Reds” as a result of the Bolshevik revolution in the early twentieth century. In 1918, Russia was going through a civil war, and the Bolshevik army was named the Red Army, named for the spilled blood of the working class that was fighting for Communism. When the Bolsheviks were victorious and eventually gained political control of Russia, the term Reds – for their Red Army – was attached as a derogatory label that lasted through the Cold War.
Panel 3: The statement, “I’m talking total devastation” is another example of the juxtaposition between words and images that Moore & Gibbons pioneered with this comic. It not only refers to the scenario of a Russian nuclear strike, but to the scene in this panel with Dr. Manhattan walking across Mars’s devastated landscape, a huge cloud of dust following him along its surface.
Panel 5: More juxtaposition as one of Nixon’s advisors says in the caption box “. . . any moment now we’ll be able to give you an overview” just as Dr. Manhattan is coming over a rise to find the place on Mars where he can sit and think.