Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Upstairs Downstairs

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.

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