Panel 1: Where the hands of Kovacs (Rorschach) are in a similar placement in front of the graffiti of the Hiroshima lovers, which are somewhat symmetrical if not perfectly so.
Many of the clues that reveal Kovacs (the “End is Nigh” character) is Rorschach come together in this panel.
First, the silhouette of the Hirsohima lovers on the wall behind this trash can would signal that it is the trash can across from the Gunga Diner, which we saw Rorschach watching earlier this issue.
Second, though not obvious, the “End is Nigh” sign can be seen settled against the trash can past the note and hands . . .
Third . . . which connects to the figure of Kovacs digging through the trash in the background of Page 17, Panel 8 (the previous page).
The comment in Rorschach’s journal that the “murderer is closing in” foreshadows his fate at the end of this issue, which ties in to the note he found in this maildrop from Moloch.
Panel 2: Again, the motion picture currently playing is “Things to Come” signaling that there are things to come for Rorschach in this chapter.
Panel 4: Rorschach talks of himself as being the one sane person (or “response”) to the events spiraling out of control in this world. This gives us another look into his fractured psyche, knowing what we already know about this character.
Also note the pieces of symbolism found in this alley: the “Pale Horse” sign, the “Who Watches the Watchmen?” graffiti, and the Ozymandias poster for his famine relief benefit show – all pointing to Ozymandias as the one behind the superhero conspiracy, and the one effecting the end of the world for these heroes.
Panel 5: Note the Nostalgia ad above Rorschach’s hiding place for his costume. It could be said that, although not nostalgic, Rorschach represents a facet of nostalgia considering he is one of the few “masks” still out there after the Keene Act was passed eight years prior – at least, a bit of nostalgia, if seen through a distorted prism.
Panel 6: With the journal excerpt on this panel we get yet more insight into Rorschach’s fragile psyche. He sees his costume as his true self, while the time he spends walking around without his mask, he sees as his “disguise.” Also, he describes his gloves as spotless, which they obviously are not. This could be another example of Rorschach’s inability to deal with the real world, or it could be him seeing them as spotless in a metaphorical sense, a result of his unwavering morality and refusal to give in to societal pressure.
Also note that his commentary of becoming “free from . . . lust” is juxtaposed with the imagery of the Nostalgia advertisement – a woman in her negligee pulling on a silk stocking.
Panel 8: The attacker and his victim at the end of the alley resemble very much the Hiroshima lovers found spray painted in the alleys of this New York City.