Page 1: There's Officer Farelli, who won't cut the mustard in this selection process, and the big dude is probably Branca/Bat-Bane. Also on this page, Morrison christens the previously unnamed army doctor "Dr. Hurt," a very subtle name in the tradition of "Ebeneezer Badde," from Morrison's Seven Soldiers (hint: He turned out to be bad). Still, the name sings of a fun kind of irony, DOCTOR Hurt.
"Everything he says. Every move he makes. Everything is a clue." Examining this issue in isolation, Batman's dialogue seems to apply to the Third Man. However, notice that two of those captions intersect with Dr. Hurt's panel, perhaps pointing to him instead or in addition.
Page 3: I don't know whose idea it was, Morrison's or Daniel's, but having battle damage completely tear off the bat insignia was a nice touch.
Page 5: The dialogue in the first two panels, even the layout, is duplicated from Robin Dies at Dawn (to which this issue's title pays tribute). See last issue's annotations for those panels.
It upsets me that Morrison never explains the super creepy spider latched onto Bat-Might's back.
"I must put away my Batman costume and retire from crimefighting" a post hypnotic suggestion that Hurt tries to retrigger in Batman 681.
Page 7: "These are the secrets of death we teach." I'm sure this shows up somewhere else in the run but I can't place it.
Without digressing too much, Buddy Baker in 52 transports himself home from the deep recesses of outer cosmos by making use of the higher dimensional Space B. The impish Mr. Mxyzptlk, voiced by Gilbert Gottfried in Superman: The Animated Series believe it or not, comes from Zrfff. His higher dimensionality allows him to perform feats that appear as magic in our reality. We'll talk more about higher dimensions in the annotations for 681 (seriously).
Page 7: "The post hypnotic keywords..." for example, the above and "Zur En Arrh"
Page 9: "This all happened back when I got demoted to patrolman..." in Detective 121: Gordon Walks a Beat (see last issue's annotations). This is really pedantic and comic book nerdy, but DC released Tec 121 a good ten or so years before Batman participated in the isolation experiment.
Page 11: In case you've forgotten:
"Venom" is the stuff that gives Bane his super strength, and Hugo Strange dosed people with "monster serum" back in the 40's to create some of Batman's first super foes.Two nice little touches on this page too. The first being "kept him supplied with girls, TV, pizza, and drugs" all of which Batman found at the site of the prostitute massacre in 664, and the second being "I am the Batman. And this is how I came to be" which perverts the title of the first story in Batman #1: The Legend of the Batman, Who He Is and How He Came to Be.
Page 12: Hurt tries to create Batmen with trauma, just like Mokkari and Simyan in Batman 682-683. Both fail because, as I've beaten you to death with, the cowl is nontransferable. Bruce Wayne cannot be replaced as Batman.
Page 12: The pentagram carved in blood resembles the one on which Lane situated his murders in 666.
Page 13: "Dr. Hurt was the Devil." Lane has trouble with tenses. Dr. Hurt is the Devil, Lane, is!
Page 15: Batman reports on his absurd and fantastic commitment to preparation.
Page 16: Lane casts off the bat-crest portion of his costume. I'm gonna say its symbolic.
Page 17: "If you kill me now, you can stop what's going to happen," in 666, the Third Ghost says that Batman failed to kill him, "If he had... perhaps things might have been... different for all of us." Batman's mercy here threatens to set off a course of events that ultimately leads to doom for Gotham City and the world at large.
Page 20: "If my hypothetical ultimate enemy can be imagined, I can't help considering the possibility that he actually exists." Batman's thoughts echo the ontological argument for the existence of God which basically follows like
- Define God to be the greatest entity that could ever exist.
- It is greater to exist in reality than not to exist in reality.
Page 21: "Is he telling me his name?" I'd say no because that glove is dark blue, but yeah, I guess the meaning is clear.
Page 22: Maybe I'm reaching but does anyone else think that last panel foreshadows Bruce's time as a vagrant in 679?