Monday, September 21, 2009

Election Night

The night of the long awaited election. Cerebus wins the first block of seats and Astoria tells him that he should appear in front of the crowds watching. The aardvark refuses. The events in Campaign’s End have shaken his confidence. He believes that Lord Julius goat is the favourite and he doesn’t want people laughing at him. Bran has almost successfully convinced Cerebus to do as Astoria has requested, but then the next block of seats go to the goat and Cerebus stays put, instead angrily hurling a bewildered Elrod out through the curtain and off the balcony, where the assembled masses mistake him for an entertainer and toss him up in the air for fun. A battered Elrod limps away.

The goat starts winning seats hand over fist and the suspicions rise amongst Cerebus’ party that Lord Julius has somehow fixed the election. Blakely and Filgate (the representative of ‘dadocks’, he and Cerebus have mended their poor start in Petuniacon and the mafiaesque Filgate is now firmly in the aardvark’s camp) argue and then begin to make wagers on the results of the provinces.

Cerebus’ bid for Prime Minister is coming apart at the seams and Cerebus is losing his composure. The anger and frustration that is never far from the surface in Cerebus boils over and he shouts that if he can’t beat Lord Julius in an election he will beat him in a war. He immediately begins to order Drew McGrew (Drew seemed to have become the leader of the brothers, despite the fact that he is younger than Fleagle and was initially the junior partner, the Moon Roach does not appear in Election Night, I assume he was somewhere pursuing his Superman fantasy) and Bran to prepare for a short and brutal conflict.

Lord Julius is thrown into a panic, he’s not equipped for war. To combat Drew’s handpicked thugs and Bran’s pikemen he has a handful of guards armed with butter knives, a pot of boiling oil and his son Silverspoon. He plans to tie Silverspoon to an arrow, set him on fire and hurl him into the midst of the enemy. I had wondered about Silverspoon and whether or not Dave still considered him as one of Julius’ offspring, we hadn’t seen him since the fill in issue that introduced Lord Julius into the story.

Cerebus starts to win a few seats and conflict is averted for the immediate future. There’s a page where we the readers are given a glimpse into the thoughts of six of the main protagonists at that moment in time. Cerebus has fears of being ridiculed and laughed at. I sometimes wonder if Cerebus’ fears of being made fun of are something that affected Dave as well, although being an aardvark in a world of men can’t have been an easy gig. Drew McGrew has visions of being a great military leader with beautiful, scantily clad women at his feet. Lord Julius dreams of ever rising interest rates. Astoria was interesting, she was daydreaming about locking lips with someone who looked scarily like Drew. Given her associations with the Moon Roach and then Cerebus, you wonder if despite her background and upbringing if Astoria actually likes ‘rough trade’. Filgate only wants money, as much of it as he can get. The Elf dreams of Cerebus as an elf. It’s never stated, but I think she was in love with him, in a typically elflike way of course.

The race becomes very tight and it comes down to one province. The seats are split equally between Cerebus and Lord Julius goat. Initially Cerebus and his entourage believe that they have lost, but when Astoria checks the results again she realises that the election is actually tied with 50 seats apiece.

This was an enjoyable issue. Parts of it were too farcical, generally when Lord Julius had centre stage, he was becoming more and more Marxian as the story continued. At times he was indistinguishable from his real life counterpart. If they ever make a movie of High Society they’re going to have to find a Groucho Marx lookalike and soundalike for Lord Julius. Gabe Kaplan would have been perfect, but he’s too old now. There are hints in Cerebus behaviour that power would not be good for him, he shows signs of turning into a genuine tyrant. Astoria will only be able keep him on a leash for so long and with Bran continually stroking his ego and telling him stories of conquest and aardvarkian empires Cerebus could become totally out of control. Certain parts of the chapter were narrated by an unseen voice, it happened during Campaign as well and maybe Campaign’s End, it was like one of those books or documentaries about elections where someone tells the story of their experience with a prospective candidate. The fact that it can be recognised as such is a rather telling commentary that in literature of that sort very little has or is ever likely to change. Nearly 50 issues in and Dave is still able to surprise us with the breadth and variation of his story telling and willingness to extend artistic boundaries beyond the confines of the comic book medium.

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