Saturday, August 29, 2009

Swords of Cerebus #4: The Palnu Trilogy

Now we get to the Palnu trilogy. In his introduction Dave describes it as a 71 page story, which it actually is, it's not a 3 issue arc, it is a self contained story. It's a 71 page story in 3 chapters.

The first chapter, or rather the prologue: is Silverspoon, which was Dave's parody or homage to Hal Foster's Prince Valiant. Dave drew Valiant as Silverspoon; a spoiled, vain, rich kid who looked for adventure as his way of getting his kicks. Each page of the story was like one of the old Prince Valiant full page strips. In the intro Dave apologised if it offended any fans, as Hal Foster died not long before publication, but he had not intended any offence. The journey with Silverspoon comes to a bad end, and both Cerebus and the vain young man are held as captives by the savage inhabitants on the island they are shipwrecked on. They are rescued by forces loyal to Silverspoon's father; Lord Julius, and that is where the story really begins.

The Walls of Palnu: Lord Julius, the director of trade and elected ruler of Palnu looks, talks and acts like Groucho Marx. For those of you new to Cerebus I can see you saying "Huh?" That was my reaction at first, then I did a little research. Groucho Marx's real first name was Julius and he once played Rufus T Firefly, the ruler of Ruritainian kingdom Freedonia in Duck Soup. I do think Dave Sim's idea of using him as a main character and political player in Cerebus was inspired genius.

Lord Julius made Cerebus his Kitchen Staff Supervisor in gratitude for saving his son's life. As Cerebus soon came to learn the titles in Palnu don't mean what they say. The Kitchen Staff Supervisor is actually in charge of Lord Julius' security forces, however he can't be referred to as Director of Security Forces as Lord Julius gave that title to the Secretary of the Navy. As Lord Julius explains: 'When you're running a bureacracy, the best way to safeguard your job is to make sure you're the only one who knows how the whole thing works.'

Cerebus uncovered a plot to assassinate Lord Julius, and went in search of who was behind it. Cerebus managed to kill one of the assassins, but was no closer to finding out who planned it all, and that means that Lord Julius' life is still in danger. The old Cerebus fur smells when he gets it wet gag is recycled.

A Day in the Pits: After trying and failing to advise Lord Julius to take less risks, Cerebus continued his search for the revolutionaries who were planning to kill Lord Julius, overthrow his government and take over. The search led him to some pits under the city. Lord Julius and Cerebus came across a giant snake. Cerebus battled and killed the snake, but the revolutionaries were still at large.

A Night At The Masque: despite the danger Lord Julius held a gala ball. Cerebus attended in order to protect his employer and the readers are reintroduced to two old friends: Turg and E'Lass from issue #6 (it is no accident that these two reappear in this issue as there is another echo from issue #6 at the end of the story). E'Lass had his eyes on a diamond worn by one of the guests. At some point he became separated from Turg and it was never explained what became of E'Lass' large, not so bright protector. E'Lass managed to separate the diamond from the owner, but as Cerebus followed the head conspirator into the same set of tunnels as E'Lass fled to, the thief thought the aardvark was after him. Cerebus failed to find E'Lass, and the thief got rid of the diamond and promised to go straight only to discover he was never the object of Cerebus' search. Cerebus unmasked, and then killed the leader of the revolutionaries, who was actually Lord Julius's Social Secretary, and then he left Palnu. As Lord Julius watched Cerebus ride away a messenger delivered a message from his niece: Jaka.

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