Panel 1: where we return to the present, and to the newsstand, where Bernie says, “…I didn’t expect all this to take so long.” The horses are mirrored in the latest example of two riders approaching, as two men wearing suits and hats and riding bicycles approach this very familiar newsstand.
The news vendor’s continued dialogue – “…everybody’s scared [the bomb]’ll drop…gatherin’ on corners, looking for trouble…” – is mirrored by the continuation of the pirate comic’s caption: “At death’s approach, all creatures discover an aptitude for violence.” This aptitude for violence is also emphasized by the “Veidt Method” ad we see on the back of the Black Freighter comic, which professes to offer one an opportunity to become a physical specimen of strength and power, which could be used for violence against those who may have ridiculed you when you weren’t as strong or physically impressive.
Panel 2: Moore juxtaposes the commingling texts (from the Black Freighter and the main narrative) with the lines “…horses watched, understanding only a little,” and “…it’s too big to take in, but people know something bad’s happening…” emphasizing the gravity of the situations and the reality of how little people (and animals) know of each.
Panel 3: We get more mirroring texts as the newsvendor talks about the fact that people “know something’s coming…it’s doomsday,” while in the Black Freighter we get a caption describing how the woman looked in the narrator’s hands “when death was assured.” And, in the background, the two bicycle riders approaching the newsstand subtly emphasize this assertion that something terrible is approaching.
Panel 4: The Black Freighter caption talks of “two worlds ended,” in reference to these two deaths, while in the main narrative, we have Bernie continuing to profess that “maybe today, maybe tomorrow” the end of the world will arrive.
Panel 5: We get more mirroring texts as Bernie tells the bicyclist who asks for a Gazette that that’s what he’s there for (and by his initial stuttering, we can assume Bernie was momentarily surprised at the request and may be looking at the two men with a confused [or stupid] look on his face), while the Black Freighter caption states: “My purpose almost forgotten…I gazed stupidly at the horses.”
Panel 6: This panel is more subtle, but Moore mirrors the texts once again as both the Black Freighter story and the main narrative discuss, or show characters, trying to take advantage of a situation – the pirate narrator wonders how to turn these murders to his advantage while the man purchasing the Gazette uses that transaction as an opening to offer one of his own pamphlets to Bernie.
Panel 7: The juxtaposition of the Black Freighter and main narrative text here is interesting, in that the caption box for the Black Freighter actually answers the question posed to Bernie, even if it isn’t Bernie’s actual answer.
Also of note, the magazine offered by these Jehovah’s Witnesses is entitled “Watch Tower,” tying into the two riders approaching, motif, as this chapter’s title comes from the Bob Dylan song, “All Along the Watchtower.”
The Watch Tower also plays into the main narrative, as these pamphlets often include articles on the coming apocalypse and how one’s soul could be saved. The mushroom cloud on the cover emphasizes this sense of impending doom.
Panel 8: We get more mirroring texts, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses tell Bernie they are leaving now, while in the Black Freighter comic the narrator has tied the deceased woman to her horse so they too might leave and head back to Davidstown.
Panel 9: In this panel, it’s the imagery from the main narrative that is juxtaposed against the caption of the Black Freighter, as we watch the Jehovah’s Witnesses ride off on their bicycles while the narrator of the pirate comic thinks, “…two figures…rode back.”
This panel is also littered with the apocalyptic symbolism that has been seen throughout Watchmen, as we see the newspaper headline proclaiming the escalation of the conflict in eastern Europe, the “Utopia” theater with the poster for “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” and the Jehovah’s Witnesses who were proclaiming the end of days by God.
The “conflict escalates” headline transition directly into