Cover Image: Again, the cover image is also the first panel of the chapter. In this instance, it is a close-up view of the radar screen that is seen on panel 1 of Page 1. Looking at the readout below the radar, we see the symbols A1 and A2, representing Air Force 1 and Air Force 2, designations for the airplanes that carry the President and Vice President of the United States – in this alternate reality, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
DEFCON 2, at the top of the image, represents the “defense readiness condition” used by the U.S. armed forces. A five-level system dependent upon various military situations, the DEFCON system ranges from DEFCON 5, which is the least severe level of preparedness, to DEFCON 1, the most severe. At DEFCON 2, the United States is only one step away from hostilities igniting, a precarious position to be in.
Also worth noting is the fact that Dave Gibbons utilized the various aspects of the radar screen (the two blips for Air Force 1 and 2, the circling “hand,” and the reflected light in the lower portion of the viewscreen) to create a variation on the blood-spattered smiley face button.
Panel 2: The President and Vice President, coming in on separate planes, are the first two riders approaching in this chapter.