Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Cerebus doesn't see any way out of the pending invasion by the feared Hsifans. His three advisors; Blakely, Filgate and the fop from the Anarcho-Romantics, aren't any help either. This isn't Cerebus' type of fight. He should be commanding troops on the front line, not directing things from a war room.
The news from the front just keeps getting worse and the Iestans are fighting desperately to hold on to their city. While Cerebus is meeting with Blakely and Filgate to try and find a way to keep the Anarcho-Romantics off his back the Roach is listening outside. He probably would have made things worse again, but he fell off the wall before he could do so. The Isshurian says he'll do his best as long as he and his men are paid, but if they don't find the money they want then Cerebus is on his own.
Cerebus manages to pull the Anarcho-Romantics into line by getting their leader to agree to fight on the front line unless they stop causing problems for Cerebus. He puts Blakely out of the way by giving him a largely meaningless role, much in the way Lord Julius handles his bureaucrats.
The city is fragmenting with all parties turning on each other and the Prime Minister. Cerebus is almost completely out of ideas when someone tells him that there is a Mistress Jaka there to see him.
Jaka seems to be waiting n what looks like a folly out of the city in the middle of the snow. She tells Cerebus that she intends to leave the city and that he should come with her. Staying is likely to get him killed. She tries to convince him that they can just leave and do all the things they planned so long ago: see the Wall of Tsi and the T'Capmin Kingdoms. As Jaka is a Tavers, she knows how these things work and she's telling the truth that when push comes to shove they will throw him to the wolves because he's not one of them. Light fills the window and shines on Jaka giving her an angelic aspect, yet another hint that to Dave Jaka is somehow perfect, other worldly. The more Jaka tries to convince Cerebus that the smart thing to do is leave and to give Astoria up the more the stubborn little creature digs his heels in. I almost cried when she whispered that she loved him. As always with Cerebus his rage overcomes everything else and he hits Jaka. My heart broke at that moment. At times Jaka could be such a doormat, though. When Cerebus tries to apologize she tells him that she understands and then flees.
The kicker is that as she leaves a messenger tells Cerebus that the mercenaries found the outpost in the Red Marches where Bran was supposed to be waiting empty and they wish him good luck. Cerebus is standing alone now.
This was a tough issue to read, not just because yet again Cerebus blew it with Jaka, but because his whole world is crashing down around him and he is powerless to prevent it. I noticed that Dave does nearly all of Cerebus' expression with his eyes, often everything Cerebus feels and is thinking is shown by subtle movements of his eyes and brows. The man had grown so much as an artist.
Monday, September 28, 2009
When we last left our hero things finally seemed to be working in his favour, but this entire sequence was called Cerebus' Six Crises, so that state of affairs could not possibly continue as we were only up to Crisis Three.
Astoria meets with a foppishly dressed member of the pretentious Intellectual Revolution (are they ever anything, but?). Her meeting over, Astoria goes into Cerebus' office has to wake him up and then delivers a document called The People's Manifesto of Demands. One thing you should never ever do to Cerebus is demand anything. The manifesto provokes the expected temper tantrum, but with Astoria's diplomatic influence that's as far as it would have gone, except for the fact that the thoroughly deranged Roach was literally hanging around outside the window listening.
In his current incarnation as Sergeant Preston of the Northern Iestan Mounted Police (one I never felt really worked. He dressed like a fuzzy Moon Knight and he still had the habit of using the Kevitch personality to commentate on his movements, so calling himself Sergeant Preston, a character based on the matinee hero Sgt Preston of the Mounties didn't make an awful lot of sense) the Roach busts into the revolutionary headquarters and beats the living daylights out of everyone there, letting them all know that he is doing this on behalf of Cerebus the Prime Minister of Iest.
The Isshurian mercenary commander returns, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't see him as anything other than Commander Krull with a bigger jaw. I think Dave may have been extending himself artistically and there are only so many people you can draw before you find some of them start to look the same. The Isshurian has used nearly all of the money he and his men liberated from New Sepra to pay himself and his men. Cerebus isn't happy, but there's not a lot he can do about it. Especially when a message from Palnu arrives informing the aardvark that Lord Julius has significantly devalued the currency of New Sepra due to Cerebus' smash and grab invasion. During a discussion with Bran, Cerebus comes to the realisation that he has been played yet again by the wily Palnan bureaucrat. The fact that he can't work out if whatever move he makes is actually playing into Lord Julius' hands effectively ties his hands and leaves him largely powerless.
As his financial advisor, Filgate advises Cerebus that to get around the devaluation he has to get the banks to agree to work with him against Lord Julius. This was a sound strategy and would have worked had it been allowed to start. Unfortunately once again the Roach heard the conversation. This time he heavied the director of the Bank of Iest into signing a document that would make him loyal to the Prime Minister. The director does himself no favours when he points out that any document signed under duress is not legally binding. The Roach very nearly breaks the man's arm making him sign a second document that the first one was not signed under any coercion.
Cerebus frets because his major hope against the revolution in New Sepra that was forcing his army out, led by Bran, has not contacted him and it is past time. The local revolutionaries rise up because of how the Roach treated them and now Cerebus also has no hope of getting the banks to cooperate with him again because of the Roach's late night visit to the director of the Bank of Iest.
One by one the dominoes begin to fall and Cerebus is forced to sign away concession after concession just to keep his position. He believes that Bran has made it through and done the right thing for Iest, only to discover that they are being invaded.
Dave had done it again. I sometimes wonder if he really hated his hero, because every time things seemed to be going right for him the rug was pulled out from under him and he ended up in a worse position than he started in. I can't deny it was huge fun to read, though.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The second of the six crises was called A Night In Iest or Summit Enchanted Evening (geddit?)
It introduced the imbecilic Duke Leonardi, the ruler of New Sepra. Leonardi was very obviously the eldest of the Marx brothers; Chico, right down to the shapeless hat. He was every bit as silly as his film counterpart and spoke with the same accent.
When Lord Julius refused to compromise on the interest rates that Cerebus owed him, Cerebus told him to go ahead and foreclose. As Cerebus had no money Lord Julius would get nothing (does this remind anyone else of a recent financial crisis?). Realising that Cerebus was correct, Lord Julius advised him to attack New Sepra. Duke Leonardi had no idea what they were talking about as they held the conversation in pig latin (which they told the idiot duke was an obscure Borealan dialect).
The leader of the Western Church of Tarim started to make overtures to Cerebus and again the albatross came into play. Everyone wanted the albatross, but Cerebus didn't know why.
During a drinking session with Henrot and the Elf, Cerebus had the idea to speak to the highest ranking church officials not involved with the exodus inward. Henrot wonders how the aardvark is going to get them to tell him anything, because they're notoriously tight lipped. Eyeing off the bottle passing between the Elf and Henrot Cerebus believes he knows how to loosen the bishop's tongues.
The two bishops become extremely inebriated and reveal all sorts of interesting things to the new Prime Minister. Of most interest is the fact that Cerebus was supposed to find the albatross, that would have made him the pontiff of both the Eastern and the Western churches. This is what the Eastern bishops want because politicians are so easy to manipulate. A great shame for them that Cerebus is not a politician.
The cavalry commander from the New Sepran front arrives in Iest carrying a large sack, which contains just under 4 million crowns. Things are definitely looking up for Cerebus.
Astoria continued to act as the Prime Minister's secretary. She's up to something, I just know it. This issue was also another hint that the church would soon become a large part of Cerebus life and the lead in to Church & State 1, the next book in the series.
The fact that this issue was subtitled: Cerebus Six Crises, Crisis Number One, hinted at all sorts of fun. It was also the 44th issue which meant that by the sixth crisis it would be the final chapter of High Society.
Cerebus had moved into the Prime Minister's offices and Astoria was working as his secretary. I'm sure her title was something else, but she was filling the role of secretary. She had to be planning something. Astoria was the Duchess of Parnoc, she had planned Cerebus' campaign and pushed him into the Prime Minister's office, yet she was working as his secretary? I didn't buy that.
As feared, power goes to Cerebus' head. He bullies people into doing what he wants, and immediately launches military action against Lower Felda. This again illustrates that as a military commander Cerebus is perfect, but a failure as a political leader. He doesn't understand diplomacy, he understands that a blunt or edged weapon nearly always gets you what you want. Nearly always being the key words there.
Cerebus' intention is to use the money he plunders from Lower Felda to pay his mercenary forces. Unfortunately when he takes Lower Felda he finds out that the entire country is broke, and he now owes Lord Julius more than he can ever pay back, as well as owing his own mercenary forces about half again what he promised them in the first place. To add insult to injury, Lord Julius sends some cigars with his demand for payment and one of them explodes in Cerebus' face while he is smoking it.
It's hard to see how the aardvark is going to get out of this. He successfully manages to alienate nearly every useful ally he has, except for Astoria. His inner circle is comprised of Henrot and the Elf. Henrot's powers only work part of the time and the Elf seems to regard membership as being like part of a child's gang.
Cerebus is in way over his head.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
The first part of this is a review of as much as I can find of Heroes, the next full chapter, then I'm going to go off on a tangent.
Heroes opens with Cerebus and the Elf. Cerebus is telling a seemingly enraptured Elf the story of a speech he gave, she appears interested, but then asks what colour the curtains were. Cerebus realises that she was only listening to be polite and is about to leave in a huff when she begs him to finish his story and sits listening silently.
For reasons Cerebus doesn't understand he's actually trailing the goat in the docks and the suburbs. The Moon Roach is beside himself because he has finally realised that Astoria does not love him anymore. She never did, but he deluded himself that prior to Cerebus arrival in Iest that she did.
There's a small interlude with a group of derelicts in the lower city reading about the campaign in a discarded newspaper. We glean from this that the reason the goat leads Cerebus is due to Astoria's rejection by the Cirinists. I'm not really sure why Dave used a group of hoboes to get the message across to the readers. In my experience derelicts generally don't vote or care much about election campaigns.
I was just getting to the bit about the Moon Roach's delusion about his heroic abilities and his comparisons with Superman when it just stopped and went to Election Night. For some reason my 'phone book' is missing 33 pages, that's most of Heroes and all of Campaign's End. This is unfortunately the chance you sometimes take with the 'phone books'. They were never really quality productions. The covers look great and are very glossy, but the pages inside are of poor quality, frequently smudged and poorly printed, small writing can be almost impossible to read and in the case of my copy of High Society 33 pages simply aren't there.
For those that are interested the following issue summary was gleaned from Margaret Liss' marvelous Cerebus Fan Girl site: http://www.cerebusfangirl.com/.
For the remainder of Heroes Cerebus was trying to find an albatross, this albatross was the duck statue that formed Cerebus' ransom from the McGrew brothers. Astoria had a protege and assistant, this was Therese who was previously seen in issue #24 as one of the students at Professor X Claremont's school for girls. I found this interesting as I always thought that the 3 girls became part of the professor's Woman Thing which was last seen mating with the mad artist's Sump Thing in issue #25.
In Campaign's End Cerebus continues to campaign, but behind Astoria's back offering bribes to the commanders of the border fortifications in exchange for their support. Although Astoria wouldn't have liked the deals done without her say so Cerebus was really the best equipped to deal with the commanders, he understands them better than any other member of his campaign staff. The Moon Roach's Superman fantasy expands with him believing that snow is frostonite fragments of intense cold formed when his home planet of Froston exploded. Frostonite = kryptonite, Froston = Krypton.
I'll be able to pick the story up properly in Election Night.
Still really crabby about those 33 missing pages. Grrrrr! Frigging phone books!
I'm not even sure that this qualifies as a chapter/issue. It's only about 4 pages long. It's a transcript of Lord Julius' meeting with the Mother Abbess of Grace introducing his candidate for the Prime Ministership. This seems to have taken place before Cerebus' meeting with the abbess. Lord Julius and his goat gain a significant advantage when the abbess decides to throw her votes behind the goat rather than Cerebus because of his association with Astoria.
Astoria received a copy of the transcript, exactly why this would have been so is not made clear. Possibly in her capacity as Cerebus' campaign manager or her position as Duchess of Parmoc, maybe because she was Lord Julius ex-wife or maybe because of her standing as a Cirinist.
The whole meeting was very typical of how Lord Julius dealt with the various bureaucrats he was forced to use. In fact it could have been lifted from a Marx Brothers film and the abbess could have played by the marvelous Margaret Dumont.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Dave always seemed to pull out all the stops and get everything right with the Jaka issues. The Night Before was no exception.
The opening page is Cerebus and Jaka meeting in a long glass roofed hall, with leafy potted plants lining the walls. Jaka is facing the reader, you can only see Cerebus from behind. Most of the scenes in Cerebus' suite illuminate the characters only, with darkness all around them. This was the exact opposite, the room was light filled and you could see the stars twinkling through the hundreds of glass panes that made up the roof. It was the most impressive pre Gerhard background I could remember.
The reunion does not initially go well. Unaware of Jaka's background Cerebus' attempts to impress the beautiful blonde tavern dancer with stories of his wealth and power. Jaka does not like this new Cerebus who is so far removed from the cute and smitten mercenary she met all that time ago. Cerebus offers to let her live with him. Jaka asks about Astoria. Like the rest of Iest she believes that Cerebus and Astoria are lovers. Cerebus explains that his suite has 7 rooms. Astoria and Jaka can have 2 each and that still leaves Cerebus with 3 for himself. Of course Jaka will have to do something so that Astoria doesn't accuse him of taking in a free loader. She can't dance, though, that would be bad for business, as dancers are held in low regard in the upper city of Iest.
In an attempt to remind him of what they once were to each other Jaka asks Cerebus if he would still kill a yak for her supper or would that too be bad for business? Cerebus tells her that if she really wants a yak he will buy her one. That somehow wouldn't be the same. A poignant and beautifully drawn silence follows. With both of them highlighted separately, backs turned to each other.
To break the silence Jaka asks when Cerebus remembered about her....them. Cerebus said that sometimes when he got drunk he would have dreams and once he saw a tavern dancer in Beduin. Another silence follows and this time Cerebus breaks it with a silly joke that makes Jaka smile and call him crazy affectionately. Cerebus tells her that the Iestan Prime Minister told him the joke and she remarks how he's moving up in the world. This would have been the best time for Cerebus to shut up or accept the comment as a compliment. He doesn't, he says that Astoria had told him people from his past would appear now that he was wealthy and successful. Jaka quite correctly sees this as implying (although there is a joke about the difference between inferring and implying which echoes an earlier criticism Astoria levelled at Cerebus) that she has come looking for a handout. The resulting exchange brings tears to Jaka's eyes.
Jaka said that she didn't come seeking charity Cerebus says that he has been a mercenary, a tax collector and a professional gambler, he may not know much, but he does know when someone is broke. Again Cerebus is correct, but he has no idea why Jaka has no money. She tells him that until recently she had a good amount of money in the Bank of Iest, but she used it buy something from a salvage merchant. Cerebus chides her for her foolishness and tells her about a swindle he once pulled by staining a jug with berry juice and selling it as rare pink-iron.
The meeting not working out at all how Jaka had envisioned and she takes her leave. Cerebus asks here where she will go and what she will do without any money. Jaka says that she's taken care of herself since she was 12, she'll manage. Cerebus offers to give her something to tide her over, she refuses saying that she actually came to give him something. It's package by the wall, he can decide whether or not it was a bad investment.
Cerebus shouts 'Jaka!' at her as she disappears into the night, then goes to inspect the package. As he opens it and displays it's contents I could have cried. It's a sword. Cerebus' sword. The one he lost in Beduin in issue #12 when he tried to transport the Roach's hoarde out. That also explains why it was found with a number of gold coins, some over 30 years old.
It isn't the gift itself that is valuable, although Jaka did use all her savings to purchase it. It's more that Jaka took the trouble to track it down and buy it for Cerebus. The sword is a symbol, unlike other barbarian warriors Cerebus did not place a huge amount of value on his weapons, he didn't develop emotional attachments and name them. They were simply things he needed to survive. The sword is of a common design and not decorated, it's a strong, functional weapon. It is a symbol of what Cerebus once was, and at heart, still is. It's what he was before Astoria got hold of him and tried to make him into something he isn't for her own personal gain.
I found myself comparing the two ladies. They are total opposites, sharing only physical attractiveness and gender. Jaka is fair and free spirited, totally uncomplicated, she has renounced her former life and become a tavern dancer. Astoria is dark and scheming, she comes from money and power and seeks only to gather more. Jaka seems to be everything Dave wants in a woman, the fantasy, whereas Astoria is the reality, at least the way Dave views women.
One thing that was different about Jaka was her failure to talk about herself in 3rd person the way Cerebus always refers to himself. It was not commented on and it stuck out for me. I can only assume that Jaka did it when she first met Cerebus because it made it easier for her to escape her old privileged life and made it harder for them to find her.
I wanted Cerebus to succeed, I really did, but somehow I knew that he'd mess it up. Stupid aardvark.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Cerebus arrives back at The Regency roaring drunk, and not particularly concerned that Lord Julius intends to replace him as the ranking diplomatic representative of Palnu in Iest with Elrod. Even had the aardvark been sober I doubt the news would have bothered him overly much. He would have been angry, because that's largely Cerebus' state of being, and it would have annoyed him that he was being passed over for someone he can't stand, like Elrod, but he's had and been removed from posts of power and importance before. He simply picks himself up, moves on and lurches to his next disaster.
Once Astoria has cruelly put a medicinal compound in Cerebus' drink that cures inebriation by bringing on an instant hangover, he's willing to work with her. Actually he's willing to do anything so long as she doesn't speak too loudly. If such a compound genuinely existed in this world the pharmaceutical company that had the patent would be worth a fortune. Cerebus' hangover cure consists of: a dozen raw eggs, twelve gallons of water and hot towels. We had seen him utilise this cure in one of the add ons in one of the Swords of Cerebus collections.
While Astoria prepares Cerebus' wardrobe in preparation for his counter attack against Lord Julius and Elrod to retain his position in the sun in Iest, she explains to him the current political situation and the economy of Estarcion. To back his nomination of Elrod, Lord Julius has adopted the albino as his son. Silverspoon is never mentioned again, to tell the truth I would have preferred to see the Prince Valiant parody return rather than Elrod. Astoria's explanation of how the world of high finance in Estarcion works is largely how it works in our world today. I found it interesting that Dave wrote this in the early 80's and here in 2009 it still applies almost word for word.
Astoria has somehow emasculated Cerebus, and he is well and truly under her thumb. A chance meeting with Mac Mufin (the Pigtish leader, not the footballer), serves to remind us, and him, that at heart Cerebus is still a two fisted brawler who will visit great physical harm on anyone who upsets him too much.
That evening Astoria gets the Prime Minister of Iest to join her and Cerebus for coffee after dinner. The Prime Minister would rather enjoy Astoria's company, and Cerebus gives the impression that he'd rather be somewhere else, doing something else. Astoria has a mind like a steel trap, and will not be deviated from her mission to ensure Cerebus remains the ranking diplomatic representative of Palnu in Iest. The Prime Minister would also prefer this, but he does not want to upset Lord Julius, because his position is dependant on the master bureaucrat's will.
While the Prime Minister and Astoria are arguing, they appear oblivious to the fact that the waiter serving them coffee is actually Lord Julius. Cerebus does pick up on his presence, and speaks to him away from the other two. As always Julius stalls and says nothing, but drops a clue to Astoria's origins revealing that she had a Cirinist connection.
Cerebus is in his suite getting changed for another engagement with the Prime Minister and a delegation of businessmen, when there's a knock at the door and a clerk informs him that a Mistress Jaka is there to see him!
OMG! When I read that last line I almost couldn't wait to see the next issue. While my spirits dropped at the reappearance of Elrod, and I was mildly intrigued by Bran suddenly coming back, I was positively elated that at long last we were going to see Jaka again. Although he doesn't deserve it, there was something in me that wanted Cerebus to find happiness with Jaka and I'd been waiting since issue #6 to see her again.
Cerebus is suitably horrified and annoyed to see the walking irritation that is Elrod step back into his life. He promptly knocks the albino unconscious mid sentence, and bundles him into a cab, (coincidentally driven by the same cabbie that took Cerebus to the Rams Lords Tavern the night he arrived in Iest) with orders to put him on a ship going somewhere very far away.
Once safely back behind The Regency's doors, Cerebus heads for his room to stay out of trouble. Before he can get there he is accosted by a well dressed and groomed young man who starts spouting some sort of prophecy at him. Initially Cerebus has no idea who this is, until he introduces himself as Bran Mac Mufin (despite the fact that he's spelling the surname differently it is the leader of the Pigts, last encountered in issue #5). Convinced that any association with Mac Mufin (these days due to a derogatory nickname supporters of my Aussie Rules team; the Richmond Tigers, have bestowed upon the less than brilliant Jordan McMahon, I have problems disassociating the two, in fact I think I'd rather prefer that we had the Pigtish leader on our list) will only cause trouble Cerebus waves him away, and continues onto his room. It appears that people from the aardvark's past are popping up all over Iest. The reason for this will become apparent at the end of the chapter.
Thinking that he has now successfully avoided all possibilities of trouble, and can tell Astoria 'Nyah-Nyah!' when she returns, and he is sitting quietly in his room doing nothing, Cerebus enters the room only to find a dripping wet Elrod waiting there for him. About to throw Elrod out the window, Cerebus is startled by the Moon Roach appearing there and vowing to kill everyone who attempts to help the aardvark. Cerebus is about to climb out the window, and give chase when Elrod tells Cerebus that the Roach can't possibly carry out his threat, because Cerebus' actions in bringing the Inquisition to it's knees has garnered him more friends and allies than the Moon Roach could ever wipe out single handedly.
Astoria reenters, and before Cerebus can stop him Elrod introduces himself to her, and then takes his leave. Instead of being angry with him, Astoria asks Cerebus how he managed to cultivate the most charismatic swordsman in Estarcion as a friend. Cerebus cannot believe this. To me this illustrated that ever since he arrived in Iest Cerebus has been so busy concentrating on his own issues that he never even thinks about the greater world outside of himself. Cerebus only cares for one person and that is Cerebus, he often does this to the exclusion of all else. At times the aardvark seems completely cut off from the world around him.
Cerebus demands an apology from Astoria for remaining out of trouble while she was gone, she's about to grant it grudgingly, and mentions telling the desk clerk to cancel all her appointments while she was gone, when suddenly Cerebus remembers that he didn't do that.
Astoria goes downstairs to try and put right what missing all her appointments has messed up, and comes back to tell Cerebus that she's going to need 500 crowns. Cerebus has 1,000 crowns that she gave him on the day the Elf left, so gives Astoria 500. Once he's gone Astoria opens a hidden safe, and puts the 500 with the neat piles of crowns that Cerebus is obviously unaware she has hoarded. While she is closing the safe Elrod reenters to give Astoria an invitation that he forgot for Cerebus.
Astoria looks at the invitation, and sees with wide eyes that it is an invitation to Lord Julius' Petuniacon at The Regency with guest of honour King Elrod of Melvinbone (Lord Julius' nominee to be the next ranking diplomatic representative of Palnu in Iest).
The bit about Petuniacon made clear to me the title of the issue (Three Days Before), and why people like Elrod and Bran from Cerebus' past had suddenly bobbed up. By this stage in the life of the comic I'm betting Dave had been to his fair share of cons (short for convention, they're very popular amongst sci-fi/fantasy fans and comic book collectors), and this was his little joke about them. It was a successful stepping stone of an issue and had some very interesting things: Astoria's hoarding of money, Cerebus' growing popularity, Elrod's fame and relationship with Lord Julius, and the reappearance of Bran Mac Mufin.
There are some characters in long running TV shows, book series and comics that make fans react when they reappear. In Cerebus Elrod was one such character. Most fans like him. I never really did. Once you got past the fact that he bore a similar name to a popular Moorcock hero, and looked like the same character, but was totally incompetent, and spoke like Foghorn Leghorn that was it, joke over. By the time he came back into the book in High Society I felt that the character had outlived his usefulness. He was still wearing the outdated medieval style dress that made him an anachronism in cosmpolitan Iest, which favoured an almost 19th century Victorian mode of dress and lifestyle, yet we were supposed to believe that people saw him as a dashing, charismatic heroic type. Yet the fans and Dave liked the character enough that this would be far from the last time we saw the albino.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Having seen the Roach just kill the man who can get him off the hook, Cerebus gives chase. He follows the Roach to a well situated apartment not all that far from the Regency.
Inside, the Roach is being attended to by an attractive and elegant young lady. This woman relates how she and the Cootie first met. He appeared in her room one night in his costume, and bleeding. She nursed him back to health (the Roach has always possessed amazing recuperative powers, so it didn't take long) and then he woke up speaking in a completely different voice. Apparently he was two separate personalities, the dominant one was called Kevitch, and it was Kevitch that drove the hero personality of the Moon Roach to destructive and violent acts. To calm him down the woman built her hero another personality, this one was a quiet, gentle character she named Artemis....Artemis Strong. It was the Artemis personality who told her the story of how a simple gardener became the Moon Roach. The costume appeared to him one night and took him over, it felt, he said like having an origin. (Very funny use of words and one that makes any fanboy break out into uncontrollable laughter).
The lady begged Cerebus not to arrest the Cootie, she implored him to take the costume, without the costume he couldn't become the Moon Roach. Cerebus remained unmoved. She threatened to kill herself. Cerebus took the costume.
On his way back to The Regency Cerebus encountered the diplomatic representative of Eshnospur who had come to warn Cerebus the church's inquisitors were after him, and they would seek to blame him for Holland M Hadden's untimely demise. Cerebus thinks he's avoided further trouble with the church after speaking to the inquisitors, that is until a giant crescent moon falls on them!
Once again Cerebus chases the Moon Roach, and we start to see how truly nutty this version of the Roach is. The Kevitch character provides a running commentary in the Roach's head about his actions as he performs them. This time the Roach is too good for Cerebus, and the aardvark has to give up his pursuit.
The Elf is posing in the mirror wearing Cerebus' disks, when a wet and angry aardvark returned, While Cerebus is ranting and raving about the Roach, and how he's messed everything up by dropping a moon on Holland M Hadden, and that he intends to solve his problems by getting money....a lot of money, the Elf watches him dry off, and becomes very amused by the way the tuft of hair between his ears fluffs up. She calls him 'Fluffy', and then bursts into hysterical laughter, leaving Cerebus to muse that it must be some kind of inside joke for elves.
This chapter was the first appearance of the Roach's new incarnation, which was obviously a parody of Marvel's Moon Knight. I thought Moon Knight was an odd choice. Moon Knight was one of the first titles I started collecting, and I stuck with it until artist and writer Bill Sienkiewicz's penchant for making everything into a basic geometric shape drove me nuts, and I stopped buying it. Moon Knight was never what could be termed a A list hero. He was also one of the truly oddest heroes they ever came up with. He started life as an American mercenary called Marc Spector. He ran up against his own commander; a brutal mercenary who went by the name of the Bushman, when the commander wanted to loot an Egyptian archaeological dig after killing the archaeologist that they had been hired to protect. The Bushman defeated Spector, and left him to die in the near freezing temperatures of the desert night. Some locals carried the mercenary to their temple, where the god Khonshu offered him a second chance at life if he will become the god's avatar on earth. Spector took the cloak that covered the statue of Khonshu, avenged himself against the Bushman, and then decided to go back to America and become the Moon Knight. He invested cleverly and created the wealthy playboy image of Steve Grant, while still keeping in touch with the common man using his other personality; that of cabbie Jake Lockley. Although he seemed to be in control there were times that even Spector wasn't sure who he was supposed to be. Today he'd be diagnosed with multiple people personality disorder. Somehow that makes him an extremely fitting model for the Roach.
Occasionally I used to wonder if the enjoyment of Cerebus was assisted by having a relatively good working knowledge of mainstream comics at the time. It certainly helped me get some of the jokes. The Moon Roach was one such instance, he wasn't really a big name, so unless you had an interest in the character you may not have understood some of the nuances, and as someone who enjoyed Moon Knight, let me tell you Dave really nailed him. I actually think he drew him better than any of the Marvel artists, Sienkiewicz before his Cubist obsession, included. His costume, which was really black and white, worked perfectly for Cerebus.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
It turns out that trying to ditch his security detail wasn't one of Cerebus' brighter ideas. He is confronted by two Onliu desperates; Dirty Fleagle McGrew and his younger brother Dirty Drew McGrew. Judging by their appearance; the brothers sport long hair and impressive drooping moustaches, the manner of speech; they both regularly refer to Cerebus as a varmint, a critter and a long eared galoot, and their apparent lack of intelligence; the brothers are spectacularly stupid, it appears that Dave was a fan of the 40's & 50's Warner Bros cartoons. The McGrew brothers are obviously based on Yosemite Sam. Joss Whedon featured a couple of imbecilic vampire brothers from the Wild West in the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Lyle and Tector Gorch, they bare some similarity to the McGrews. Joss Whedon is a known comic fan, it would not surprise to learn that he was the one who gave Marti Noxon (the writer of the episode) the idea for the Gorch's, and that the idea was inspired by the McGrew brothers.
Fleagle and Drew announce their intention to kidnap Cerebus, and hold him for ransom. Cerebus makes short order of the brothers, tosses their weapons away and takes charge of the kidnapping. The McGrew's have little choice but to go along with their target. Cerebus takes them to a tavern where he has a friendship with the owner, and the three hole up in an upstairs room. Cerebus writes and sends a ransom note demanding a good deal more than the McGrew's had intended.
To pass the time, while Cerebus waits for Lord Julius' administration to arrange the ransom money, the aardvark plays Diamondback with his 'captors', and proceeds to fleece the McGrews of the small share he agreed to cut them in on. Unfortunately Cerebus has underestimated the desperation of the McGrews, and when he attempts to collect the ransom they knock him unconscious with the intention of claiming the money for themselves.