TWO RIDERS WERE APPROACHING…
The title – “Two Riders Were Approaching…” – taken from the Bob Dylan song, “All Along the Watchtower,” lays out the visual motif for Chapter X. This chapter is replete with two riders approaching, starting with Air Force 1 and Air Force 2 flying President Nixon and Vice President Ford in to NORAD. It is here, where they believe themselves safely fortified against the approaching nuclear conflagration, that these two leaders of the free world will wait and see exactly how far the conflict in Europe escalates.
From this point, we see a number of variations on two riders approaching, from the horror of the Black Freighter scenes to the pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses that stop at Bernie’s newsstand with a copy of the Watchtower. The most significant instance of the two riders motif in this chapter comes from a comment by Rorschach on page 20 when he tells Nite Owl that the world is “on verge of apocalypse. Death and War are already here. Other horsemen can’t be far behind.” This acknowledgement of the metaphorical arrival of two of the four horsemen of the apocalypse heightens the sense of urgency within this story. The end is nigh, and nothing seems able to halt that.
This metaphor also accentuates the reality that the finale of Watchmen is fast approaching. As Moore & Gibbons finally start weaving their myriad plot threads together, the pattern begins to reveal itself. The riders are the readers, marching toward the climax and the denouement that will give offer answers, while also providing more questions about this world.