Largely written by Greg Morrow
Edited by Greg Morrow and Dylan Verheul

Issue 5: Passengers (Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Malcolm Jones III)

Fifth part of first storyline, More than Rubies
Fifth story reprinted in Preludes and Nocturnes

Last updated March 18, 1998


Passengers is an Iggy Pop song, from Iggy's Lust for Life album.

Page 1

This is Arkham Asylum, which was referenced earlier. "Funeral March for a Marionette" is the theme song to the show "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." Hitchcock is a famous director, particularly of suspenseful movies; the television shows were also suspense or mystery, introduced by Hitch himself with droll black humor. Hitchcock is known for making cameos in all his film work. We see Hitchcock lying on the floor on the TV screen in panel 4.

You may find the song on the compact disc Chiller, Telarc CD-80189, in the classical section. The song was written by Charles Gounod, as a musical caricature of a music critic, Henfry [sic; perhaps "Henry"] F. Chorley. Chorley died in 1872 before the piece could be formally dedicated to him, but it became an instant hit with amateur pianists.

It's April 1st by the way, and although no year is mentioned we can assume that it is 1989, since Morpheus escaped from Fawney Rig in September 1988. The Preludes & Nocturnes collection confirms this year.

Page 2

It is unclear how John Dee (Dr. Destiny) has escaped from his cell, unless it be by the amulet he obtained last issue. The Scarecrow is hanging just inside the dining hall as a part of an April Fool's joke (the date established on page 1).

Panel 4

The hanging figure is Jonathan Crane, the Scarecrow, a crazy Batman villain who is obsessed with fear in all its forms. He is known to be a long term resident of Arkham.

Page 3

As far as I know, the Scarecrow is correct with his terms for various phobias. It is unclear how he is hanging. panel 5 clearly shows that the noose is not tight, but then he could not be hanging from the rope (as he clearly is on the previous page and in panel 1) with the rope as in panel 5. The shadows in panel 5 might show the rope attached to a fairly large hook on the back of Crane's straightjacket. He could also be hanging from a rope tied around the chest, with a loose noose around his neck.

Panel 1

Pnigophobia is the morbid fear of choking, which comes very close to the fear of hanging.

Panel 7

The materioptikon was described in an earlier annotation.

Panel 9

The Joker, a Batman villain, is Arkham's most famous inmate.

Page 4

Panel 5

First known appearance of the woman, who is named later this issue.

Page 5-7

This is a dream of Mister Miracle. Mister Miracle, who goes by the name "Scott Free", which is a pun, is a New God, and a member of the Justice League. He is the son of the "good" New God Izaya, but was raised in a hellish orphanage run by a wicked woman named Granny Goodness on the planet of the "bad" New Gods, which is named Apokolips. Needless to say, all of this mythology was created by Jack Kirby, specifically for his "Fourth World" titles at DC in the 70s. Mister Miracle is a master escape artist. A number of minor characters are named in this sequence; I assume they are either consistent with his known origin or are new here.

Notice how much the style of the art changes from what Kieth has been using to a very Kirby-esque style in Scott Free's dream. Especially page 6 panels 1 and 2 with the signature Jack Kirby extremely foreshortened one arm. A very nice touch. On page 8 in panel 3 when Dream catches Scott Free Scott remains in the Kirby style but Dream remains in the Kieth style.

Page 11

Panel 1

I'm not going to go into the long and tortuous (yes, it's torture to recall the Detroit years) history of the various incarnations of the Justice League.

Panel 2

The Justice League used to have their headquarters in a satellite (which was in geosynchronous orbit except that none of the writers except Gardner Fox who originally described it knew what a geosync orbit was). Most if not all of the encounters with Dr. Destiny occured before the destruction of this satellite in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Panel 4

One of the other JL HQs was in Detroit, the other outside a town in Rhode Island called Happy Harbor, which was called the "Secret Sanctuary".

Page 12

Panel 1-2

The lady's name is Rosemary. "Rosemary...that's for remembering" is an allusion to Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, act IV scene 5: "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance;". (The mad Ophelia to Laertes, when she is handing out flowers.)

Panel 5

Night of the Living Dead is a cult classic film about zombies who crave human flesh, and, in what is probably the reference here, look remarkably like John Dee. Zomby Woof is a song on Frank Zappa's 1973 album Overnight Sensation, with a lot of references to sleeping and dreaming. A notable line is "You know I'll never sleep no more".

Page 13

Panel 4

Dee is describing some of his encounters with the JLA, accurately.

Page 14

Panel 2

The big green guy is J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, and a long term member of the JLA.

Panel 5

Morpheus takes a different form and is recognized under a different name, L'Zoril, by the Manhunter, who is really from Mars. This is really the first, and possibly the strongest, proof we have to date that Dream has been known to all cultures and all times. Note that Mister Miracle does not react badly to the appearance of a giant flaming skull in the hallway beside him; this is a good clue that Morpheus has little or no real physical presence, but is instead perceived according to the preconceptions of the viewer. Thus, the Manhunter perceives him as his historical god of dreams, while most Westerners, who have little mythological preparation for him, perceive him as a thin, pale human (someone who stays inside all day, perhaps writing or doing something else creative). Note that Grant Morrison's visage in Animal Man resembled Morpheus quite closely.

Page 15

Panel 3

"Upstate Gotham" is a misnomer, since Gotham is not a state. However, it is necessary within context, since Arkham is near Gotham and Dee must get from Gotham to Mayhew. Perhaps it should be read as "Upstate from Gotham." First known appearance of Mayhew, by the way. DC Comics has never established exactly whether Gotham City and Metropolis are, although the role-playing game reference "The Atlas of the DC Universe" places Metropolis in Delaware and Gotham in New Jersey. In general, most comic book writers (who have, historically, tended to live in NYC) have used Metropolis and Gotham as metaphors for New York City. Frank Miller is on record as having said "Metropolis is New York in the daytime; Gotham City is New York at night." It is conceivable, however, that both exist in fictional Gotham and Metropolis States, much as Duckburg is located in Calisota.

"Mayhew" is also used as a last name for the hero of Neverwhere, Richard Mayhew. It seems a mere coincidence.

Panel 4

The City of Focative Mirrors is evidently a throwaway Martian cultural reference. From context, it might be assumed to be roughly equivalent to Heaven (or Gaiman's "Silver City," from later issues). Morpheus' offer is somewhat oddly phrased. We can look at the word "Focative". There are three morphemes here, foc-, -ate, and -ive. -ate turns a noun into a verb, and -ive turns a verb into an adjective. Foc- would appear to be from the Latin for "hearth", which became "focus" in English. Strictly morphologically, we may then interpret "focative" to mean "focusing", as in a lens, or perhaps "fiery" or "heat-giving". However, if we turn to Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act IV, Scene 1, lines 42-46 we see a comic routine on, among other things, the "focative" case, with wordplay involving carets (referring to the phallic shape of a carrot) and roots. In other words, Shakespeare is punning on "fuck" (whose etymology makes interesting, if inelegant, dinner conversation). In this context, it appears that Dream is giving J'onn permission to have an erotic dream--especially frustrating for the last survivor of an entire species! Giving Gaiman's known Shakespearean leanings, this may very well be the interpretation he meant.

Panel 5

The new and allegedly funny Justice League series have established that J'onn enjoys OreoTM cookies.

Page 16

Panel 2

It is rather funny that John Dee's mother ordered him to use another name for his criminal career so as not to bring "shame on the family name". The Dee family name, especially combined with the first name "John" is a pretty shameful name already, since the historical John Dee was a notorious man (see Annotations for issue 2).

Panel 2

This may be oblique foreshadowing; the letter D is important to background mythology surrounding Morpheus that will be developed more in later issues.

Panel 3

"I am not a black magician", as opposed to the original Dr. John Dee.

Panel 4

"Hermetic philosopher" is a word for a magician, alchemist or occultist, from Hermes Trismegistus, god of wisdom, to whom many magical and occult writings were attributed.

Panel 5

The lady's last name is Kelly. The historical Dee's partner in crime was also named Kelly, it's hard to believe that this is a coincidence.

Page 17

Panel 2

It is a retcon to say that all the materioptikons were powered by the ruby. It does explain why no one else could build a materioptikon, though.

Page 18

Morpheus while on Earth travels either as a human would (the taxi ride with Constantine and Chas in #3) or through dreams of people along the way. The latter is consistent with how he obtained food in #1, although there it was stated that Morpheus was too weak to create food from the fabric of dreams directly.

Panel 3

First appearance of Mervyn Pumpkinhead, although he is not named yet.

Page 19

Panel 3

This warehouse, called "Mayhew Storage," is a repository for old Justice League memorabilia. Only a handful of items are identifiable: the giant keyholes are related to the villain The Key; the giant joker card is related to either the Joker or the villains The Royal Flush Gang, the humanoid in the case is the robot Amazo. The organ is the weapon of an old Justice League villain, Anton Allegro. I do not recognize the frozen cow, the giant head, or any of the other badly drawn items. The tentacle might be a piece of Starro, but it's incorrect to put it here.

Contributors include:

Greg Morrow wrote the first version of the Annotations. Rich Salz, Tom Galloway, and Curtis Hoffmann identified "Funeral March for a Marionette." David Goldfarb spotted the hook on page 3 and also commented on Morpheus' means of travel. Brian D. Rogerson commented on J'onn and Morpheus' encounter. Philip J. (Da Pope!) Birmingham and Greg Morrow talked a great deal about the "City of Focative Mirrors." David Henry found the Shakespearean sexual pun on "focative". R I K joked about the warehouse and recalled Grant Morrison's appearance in Animal Man. Jacob Levy objected to Greg's dismissal of the possible existence of Gotham, the State. Carl Fink commented on the Dee family name and mentioned Dee's partner, Kelly. Ron Dippold referenced Night of the Living Dead. Wendell T. Hicken identiefied the warehouse. Nils Helge Kielland Brobakk noticed Alfred Hitchcock, commented on how and where the Scarecrow was hanging, and on John Dee. Lance "Squiddie" Smith identified the title as an Iggy Pop song. The Senile Scrutinizer named the fear of choking. Don Macpherson noticed Mervyn Pumpkinhead and wrongly identified the organ. Jeff Harvey correctly identified the organ. Brodie H Brockie noted Kieth imitating Kirby, and he also spotted Mervyn. Andy Liguori noticed the Richard Mayhew connection. David Roel and Mikael Sköld identified Zomby Woof and provided the lyrics. Katie Schwarz corrected my writing (again), referenced Hamlet and explained the hermetic philosopher.