We have learned in earlier issues that Desire is Dream's younger sibling. Despite the pronoun games in the fourth caption, Desire is consistently referred to by those who know it as "it". This is Desire's first known appearance. The "Doll's House" of the title refers to many buildings throughout this storyline, one of which is the Threshold.
The figure in the lower right is Desire. The face in the "tv screens" may be the Corinthian, who shows up later. There is also some resemblence to Neil Gaiman himself, except that the editor in the lettercol in issue 15 says "That was NOT a photo of Neil on page 3. As far as you know."
Panel 1, 3
Desire is looking at the symbols of its relatives, the Endless, a group of seven anthropomorphized concepts. The symbols may be, left to right, in descending "age" of the concept. Left to right, they are: Death's ankh, Destiny's book, Dream's helmet. The empty square will acquire more meaning shortly. Then comes Desire's chin, then one we will meet immediately, and another we will meet later.
First known appearance of Desire's twin sister Despair, whose sigil is a barbed ring (without immediately apparent symbolism), which was in the sixth square on page 4.
The missing prodigal is the Endless whose symbol is missing from the blank square. We will find out which concept this is much later.
Desire was manipulating Dream and/or Nada in issue 9. This is why the shard of glass in that story was shaped like a heart, Desire's sigil.
We do not know, but will learn, what a dream vortex is.
First known appearances of Miranda and Rose Walker, who will be very important to this storyline, and Mr. Jack Holdaway, who will not. It will be confirmed later that Rose is in fact the person Judy was talking to on page 6 of issue 6.
This is a dream. This should absolutely leap out at you.
London has three airports, of which Heathrow is the largest, and Gatwick the second in importance. It is reputed to be less pleasant to fly from than Heathrow.
Masterpiece Theater is a television show on American public TV; it perhaps exclusively features British productions of, well, masterpieces of literature adapted to television.
"Car-park" is British; the American equivalent is both "parking lot" and "parking garage".
We aren't told exactly where the Walkers are going, but one place that can be reached by a 20-minute drive through the countryside from Gatwick is Wych Cross. That the nursing home where they are heading is indeed located in Wych Cross is confirmed in issue 62, where Paul McGuire says to Rose (page 24, panel 3) that the manor house (Fawney Rig) is within walking distance of the nursing home.
We are seeing Rose's dream; Rose is slipping directly into Dreaming, which is perhaps unusual. The dream sequence is printed sideways on the page. At least two other series, Cerebus #44-50 and Fantastic Four #252 have used the same format.
This is the House of Secrets. The characters are Abel, Lucien, and Goldie. For more, see issue 2.
Lucien is taking a census. It struck me as funny that the census rolls include "Something Nasty in the Basement". I can just see the junk mail from Ed McMahon: "On January 23, will I announce 'Mr. Something N. Basement has just won $23 million dollars? Enter now!" It does not appear that Mr. Basement or the Bottle Imp date back to the original run of House of Secrets.
The image of a clock or watch appears repeatedly in the background of Rose's dream, similar to the clocks in the background of the diner issue. This is probably just Mike Dringenberg playing around.
I do not see any significance in the locations and entities on this page, although Neil Gaiman says "Page 10, panel 5: Note the doll". I think this should be panel 4.
First appearance of the guardians of the gate to the Heart of the Dreaming (and the gate itself), a gryphon, a wyvern, and a hippogriff. These characters will reappear in later issues. The gryphon and the hippogriff are not entirely visible in this panel.
This is a double page spread. "Major Arcana" originally referred to the non-suited cards in a Tarot deck. Here the term refers to the more important denizens of the Dreaming. This refers back to the introduction to Sandman #8, where we saw a high-number Tarot card with a representation of Dream on it.
Brute and Glob appeared in the 1970s run of Sandman. For more, see issue 2.
The first known appearances of the Corinthian and Fiddler's Green. Note that there is something unusual about the Corinthian's eyes.
According to the online Oxford English Dictionary 2d. ed., Fiddler's Green is "a sailor's elysium, in which wine, women, and song figure prominently". Citations date back to 1825. In one citation, tailors and musicians are cantoned (or quartered) in Fiddler's Green.
Also according to the online OED, Corinthian relates to the Greek city of Corinth. It is also one of the three Grecian orders of columns, a type of brass or bronze, whence also a meaning equivalent to "brassy" or "brazen," as effrontery, an excessively elegant literary style, an amateur yachtsman, and a variety of bagatelle. Further, and probably the meaning most apt here, it refers to a wealthy or fashionable man, or one who is profligate, idle, or licentious.
Annulet is defined on the next page.
Rose is the dream vortex. The inference from Lucien's remarks is that most vortices are objects, but that it is not unknown for them to be human.
"Perhaps one of our problems may prove a solution to the other" -- this remark will be explained further in the next issue. We are not told yet why Dream thinks a vortex is a problem.
Note that Miranda's wake up call is not landscape-oriented. This is because it is not part of the dream.
Unity Kincaid was first seen in issue #1 as one of the victims of "Sleepy Sickness".
One assumes that a genuine doll's house is at least metaphorically related to the "Doll's House" of the title.
"The '45 rebellion" was the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, in which "Bonnie Prince Charlie" won several battles in Scotland and tried to invade England. Jacobites were the party of James II and his Stuart descendants, exiled after the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688. The failure of the 1745 campaign put an end to the cause.
The Three-in-One Goddess. See issue 2. Rose, Miranda and Unity also form a maiden-mother-crone trinity, of course. Their reunion may be why the Goddess appeared to Rose. The clock appears again in the background of Rose's vision.
There was a boy named Jed connected with the 1970s Sandman. The "Kindly Ones" are the Eumenides of Greek mythology, also known as the Erinyes, and in English as the Furies. Their names are Tisiphone, Alecto, and Megaera. They punish mortals who dare to compare themselves to gods ("hubris"). Aeschylus named the third play of a trilogy Eumenides.
The Three are unusually well-disposed toward Rose. The crone aspect spills the beans even though Rose didn't ask the right questions. Perhaps this is also because of the reunion of Unity, Miranda and Rose.
"Daughter, sister, child" is because of the mother, maiden, crone symbolism.
The Corinthian, we learn, is a sick bastard, and is probably about to kill Davy.
Greg Morrow wrote the first version of the Annotations. Matt Rollefson suggests that the face on page 3 is the Corinthian. He and Andrew David Weiland elucidated "The Kindly Ones". Michael Seymour Collins explained about Gatwick and car-parks. William Sherman found the sideways issues of Cerebus. Matt Telles failed to remember the Bottle Imp and Something Nasty in the Basement. kieran ransacked the OED for Fiddler's Green and D. W. James did the same for Corinthian. Ian Taylor identified the Fantastic Four issue. Tanaqui C. Weaver commented and forwarded some Neil Gaiman comments on various Endless-related stuff, the Major Arcana, and the doll on page 10. Dylan Verheul noted the gate and the guardians some other things. Katie Schwarz expained the '45 Rebellion and provided other interesting notes and corrections (thanks Katie).