Sunday, November 15, 2009

All Lined Up

Cerebus is once again the Prime Minister of Iest, only this time he is not his own man...errr...aardvark. He's Weisshaupt's puppet, I guess you could argue he was Astoria's puppet the first time, but he had far more control of his own destiny then.

Relations between Cerebus and his mother in law have deteriorated to the point where they cannot even get through a meal without a shouting match and a food fight. This is much to Sophia's distress. The warrior woman worried about her mother dying alone and unloved (a common theme in the book) and wants to set her up with Blakely. Cerebus loathes Henrot and wouldn't even wish her on someone he dislikes as much as Blakely. Cerebus undisguised view of his mother in law as a vicious, old, fat, ugly woman upsets Sophia to the extent that she refuses to talk or have anything much to do with him, even in bed.

Cerebus is rescued from having to try and mend bridges with Sophia by being summoned to attend the pope. Pope Harmony IV to be exact. Harmony's II & III having been killed off by their successors. Once again the mysterious Lion of Serrea is mentioned, because apparently one of his representatives has to be present.

The Pope himself does not seem to be in his right mind for most of his meeting with Cerebus. Babbling incoherently about Weisshaupt and Cerebus' destiny as a priest. He also has knowledge of Lord Julius, Cirin, The Abbess, Astoria, Wenda and even Perce. Everything that is being said is dutifully written down by the Lion of Serrea's representative and the key moment is when Harmony IV says it is Cirin not Weisshaupt who will prevail. A bearded man carrying a crossbow appears and is informed by the scribe that Harmony is a Cirinist. As such he must die. The crossbowman takes aim and fires, Harmony dies with Cerebus standing beside his throne.
The large picture of Cerebus wide eyes with the sound THUNK and blood splattered across the HU & N is brilliant work and tells the reader the story without having to show what really happened.

The second last page sees, for me, the welcome return of the Elf. She greets Cerebus when he returns and breathlessly asks incessant questions about what the Pope is right. An angry and stunned Cerebus walks past her without answering and enters his bedroom. Sophia inquires as to whether Cerebus wants to make up and he angrily replies No.

To welcome readers back to Iest and The Regency Dave decorated the border of every page with a regency style wallpaper design. You don't pick up on this until a second read, but it puts the reader back in the setting immediately and is a very effective technique. This was yet another reason why Cerebus had to be an independent publication, back in the 80's it simply wouldn't have survived as a mass market publication.

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