Cover Image: This chapter focuses on Rorschach, or more precisely on his alter-ego, Walter Kovacs. So it is appropriate that the cover image be a close-up of a Rorschach blot. And, as with every cover image before, this is an extreme close-up view of the image found in the first panel on
Panel 2: Moore utilizes the caption box here to exhibit the true motivation for Dr. Malcolm Long’s decision to take on Walter Kovacs, aka Rorschach, as a patient. He is in it for the money and fame that might come from a successful rehabilitation of Kovacs.
This is yet another example of Moore creating fully-realized and believable characters. The people in Watchmen are not the prim and proper cut-outs found in so many superhero comics. They are conflicted characters with varying degrees of both good and evil within themselves.
Panel 5: Dr. Long’s comment that “[he] could stare at [Kovacs] for hours … except that he stares back,” is a direct commentary on the title for this chapter, “The Abyss Gazes Also.” This title comes from a longer quote by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche: “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” This line foreshadows Dr. Long’s psychological journey through this chapter – i.e. in his attempt to rehabilitate Walter Kovacs/Rorschach, Dr. Long will come to view the world in the manner that Rorschach does and ultimately become more like his patient than he ever conceived possible.
Panel 7: Again, Moore & Gibbons utilize the strengths of the comic medium, juxtaposing the “unspoken” optimism expressed by Dr. Long’s voiceover in panel 2 with the grotesqueries found in Kovacs’s mind, and then subverting that in
Panel 8: as Kovacs gives Dr. Long the answer he knows the doctor wishes to hear.
This panel mirrors Panel 2, exactly two panels above it, as Kovacs builds his façade, just as Dr. Long did with his stated reasons for taking this case above.