Panel 1: The pirate caption, “…the water’s surface seemed as stone beneath my [feet]…” once more is a commentary on the contemporary scene, as we see a close-up view of the Knot-Tops’ feet racing through puddles on the paved streets.
Panel 2: Dave Gibbons’s imagery here – of a man standing upon the water, haloed by the sun – emphasizes the voice-over dialogue from this marooned sailor, specifically “…a charnel messiah…”
Panel 3: The caption box text, specifically “…had [death’s] terrible shadow passed me by…” is accentuated by the shadows of the Knot-Tops passing across the old fence, which is sprayed with graffiti for, among other things seen in earlier chapters, the band Krystalnacht, which is a variation on the term Kristallnacht, known as the night of broken glass, which refers to a rash of violent anti-Jewish pogroms that occurred on November 9-10, 1938.
Panel 3-4: The captions from the pirate comic that carry across these two panels – “…I lifted my uncomprehending eyes to the heavens and saw instead the Earth…” – symbolizes this protagonist’s descent into Hell, metaphorically. By looking up and seeing the Earth, it signifies that he is below the Earth, or in Hell. Which he is.
Panel 5: Even as we see the destination of these Knot-Tops – the home of Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl, whom they have come to mistakenly believe was responsible for Rorschach’s jailbreak – the pirate comic’s text, again, does double duty as we learn the marooned sailor has “…reached [his] destination…” at the same time these gang members have reached theirs.