Monday, 19 February 2018

Reading Cerebus #9

Hi, Everybody!

First up, the Cerebus in Hell? Auctions continue:
The Un-Bedable Vark #1.
The Undateable Cerebus #1.
And The Proof of CAN7: Flight
So open your checkbooks and bid, Bid, BID!!! (Or not, I don't care what you do. Ya bunch of selfish Scrooges...)

"Say kids, what time is it?"
"It's 'READING CEREBUS' time! "
Kevin reads Cerebus for you,
It’s such a nifty thing to do.
Let’s give a rousing cheer,
Cause "Reading Cerebus" is here,
It’s time to start the column,
Nothing rhymes with column...
Kevin Kimmes:

Welcome back to “Reading Cerebus”, a new (some-what) weekly column here at A Moment of Cerebus. The goal of this column is to bring a fresh perspective to the 300-issue saga of Cerebus as I read through the series for the first time and give my insights into the longest running independent comic book series of all time. Think of this as part book club, part lit-crit, and part pop culture musing. Oh, and they told me Dave Sim himself may be reading this, so I hope I don’t screw this up. Let’s continue.

Issue 9 - Swords Against Imesh
Issue #9: Swords Against Imesh

Cerebus leads the Conniptin army to the city of Imesh with plans to enslave it and add to the strength of the Conniptin's holdings. However, when no gate can be found to enter Imesh, Cerebus goes solo to find out what has become of the city of his youth.

Well, I Didn't Vote For You

"King" Cerebus...there's just something sort of funny about this to me. After 8 issues of seeing Cerebus as a sword for hire, seeing him giving orders and leading an army just seems a bit, well, odd. And, if it seems odd to us as readers, it becomes painfully obvious that it is out of step for Cerebus as well.

The endless chatter of the Conniptin warriors (or "cheerleaders", as Cerebus refers to them) has obviously begun to grate on his nerves, and when they are met with an impenetrable wall around Imesh, Cerebus immediately reverts back to that which he knows best, going solo.

Deep thoughts on the RED CRESCENT QUARTER courtesy of
This Is Not My Beautiful House

Upon scaling the wall that surrounds Imesh, Cerebus exclaims that this is not the city of "...the aardvark's youth!" This is interesting, as I believe this to be the first real concrete piece of information that we get regarding Cerebus' past prior to us meeting him at the age of 26.

This revelation also goes a long way to explaining why it was that Cerebus felt so sure about staging a raid on the walled city. Having spent his youth there, he would know the lay of the land, thus giving him an advantage over other would-be adversaries of the city who were unfamiliar. It also explains his confusion over the missing gate.

Well I'm A King Bee, Baby

Upon entering the city, Cerebus is tricked into following Sedra into a trap set by the King of Imesh, K'Cor. K'Cor explains to Cerebus that the people of Imesh are now his slaves thanks to a concoction of "...grain, protein, three vitamins, starches, sugars, an opium derivative, and artificial colouring..." he calls Buz.

For fun, here is a short list of famous Buzz's in pop-culture:

 - Buzz Aldrin (Second man to walk on the moon) - "Beautiful view. Magnificent desolation."
 - Buzz Cola (The Simpsons) - "Twice the sugar, twice the caffeine."
 - Buzz Beer (The Drew Carey Show) - "Cleveland rocks!"
 - Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story) - "To infinity and beyond!"
 - Buzz's Girlfriend (Home Alone) - "Woof!"

What Price Freedom
"I know what you're going to say! "They are men and men should be free." A freeman is dangerous to himself and everyone else. Freedom should be left to those who can put it to good use. I used my freedom to get power! And then used my power to get more power..."
- K'Cor, King of Imesh

This is the philosophy that K'Cor has used to justify his enslavement of the people of Imesh. What makes him better than these people? Nothing. So why should he be allowed to enslave them? Well, it all comes down to the fact that he created Buz and made junkies out of not only the common man, but the high council as well.

K'Cor found an opportunity to elevate himself in a power vacuum, and by hook, or in this case mostly crook, he has established himself as a Demi-God, the only one capable of sustaining the people's addiction.

While Cerebus can understand, to a point, K'Cor's rationale is not without it's compassion. He cares for his slaves as they gave their freedom (willingly/un-wittingly) for the greater cause. What greater cause, you ask? Well, "The defense of Earth against the secret invasion of Venusians!"

The Truth about Venusians courtesy of K'Cor, and
Keep Watching The Skies

You're shitting me...aliens! Yup, this is K'Cor's belief and why he is having the enslaved people of Imesh build a 200 foot high sacred symbol of the Venusian's which he says symbolizes the death of their race! Can someone get Giorgio A. Tsoukalos on the phone and verify if any of this is true? Aliens!

The Fabled Energy Globes of Imesh courtesy of sorcery, and
They Poisoned The Watering HoleHaving heard enough, Cerebus and K'Cor come to an agreement to settle the matter at hand, a wager of kings. If Cerebus can pass through the corridor unscathed and then defeat K'Cor's champion, he will win the city and it's slaves. Lose, and his men will be added to the slave pool.

This reopened back wound courtesy of Ironic Fate, and 
Despite passing through the corridor, where his previous wound is re-opened, and then defeating both the hot-headed Panrovian and K'Cor himself, Cerebus finds in the end only defeat. K'Cor tells Cerebus that the water supply outside the city has been poisoned and that all of his men are dead. He is left alone and stranded with no food, money or shelter. Sometimes when you win, you still lose.

Final Thoughts
The art in this issue has a notably different look to it, divergent of the BWS emulation of the early issues. Researching this further, I found that for this issue Dave had Deni applying the spot blacks during the inking phase which allowed him to speed up the preparation of the book. It gives the book a heavier sense of contrast which to me just feels different, not better or worse, just different.

Join me back here next week as we look at Issue 10: Merchant of Unshib

Currently Listening To: Grateful Dead - Dick's Picks Vol 14 11/30/73 & 12/2/73 (Disc 2)

Kevin Kimmes is a lifelong comic book reader, sometime comic book artist, and recent Cerebus convert. He can be found slinging comics at the center of the Multiverse, aka House of Heroes in Oshkosh, WI.


Jeff said...

Off the top of my head, solemn and Gollum (or, Golem, depending on how you pronounce it) rhyme with column. Last line: "Why ya looking so solemn?"

Just trying to be helpful...

Jeff said...

This issue has always stuck in my craw, for several reasons: First, the cover. This may well be the worst cover of the entire run. The character art is okay, but the background art is poor, at best. Bad layout, equally bad perspective, and atrocious coloring. And, thank Tarim that somebody came along 56 issues later and started drawing bricks well.

"Canada's only bi-monthly comic book." Was that a badge of honor? "Well, there be a bunch of *monthly* comic books in Canada, but this one is BI-MONTHLY!"

Jeff said...

Secondly: In the second image, in panels one and three, Cerebus refers to himself as "I've" and "I", respectively, instead of "Cerebus has" and "Cerebus". Dave made this mistake multiple times (though not all that many, in the grand scheme of things) in the early run.

I think I addressed such mistakes (or, "mistakes") when I was proofreading the first volume and Dave decided to leave them in as a relic of the times. Or because of space.

Jeff said...

Third: In the third image, panels four, five, and six, we have just a wee bit of a problem with con- I say- continuity, son. Gettin' things right, that is.

I can live with the idea of "Venusians" attacking Imesh (which, while not pinpointed on Michael Loubert's [Deni's brother] map of the aardvarkian realm, we may assume is located somewhere in the Hsifan Khanate) and I can even live with the idea of the Venusians coming from "the second planet from the Sun", but there is no mention at the beginning of issue nine of Cerebus having been transplanted from the Aardvarkian Realm to Earth. Earth is mentioned twice on this page. I don't think that Dave ever made that mistake again. Although, having said that about the use of "Earth", it should be noted that Michael Loubert's map is entitled The Aardvarkian Age (not Realm) and bears a slight resemblance to Europe and the Middle East (of Earth fame and infamy). Furthermore, Jeff Tundis' map bears an even more striking resemblance to Europe and northern Africa (IIRC). Ergo, perhaps Dave and/or Michael meant all along for Cerebus to be inhabiting some ancient realm of Earth. (Confounding things further, all the spelling variations are of the Canadian variety.)

Kevin Kimmes said...

I told him "column" rhymed with "golem", but he chose to ignore me. So it goes.

Jeff said...

Fourth: Actually, not a complaint. I just have always wondered whether Dave based Cerebus' fight with "the energy globes of Imesh" on the training scene in Star Wars--A New Hope, which had come out a scant year before Dave did this issue and which was probably still playing in theaters. Nice work on the cosmic shit, too, a technique Dave learned from Gene Day (IIRC)--using a toothbrush to "spraypaint" White-Out onto a black background.

Okay, one complaint. K-Cor tells Cerebus that if he passes through the corridor "unscathed", etc. Unscathed means uninjured. Yet, Cerebus gets zapped (scathed) at least once, painfully, but emerges nonetheless to fight K-Cor's champion. Shouldn't he have lost the wager before he ever left the corridor?

And, fifth: The story ends with all of the Conniptins dead outside the walls of Imesh and K-Cor stopping the fight without ceding victory to Cerebus, leaving Cerebus destitute. A plot device, yes, but also a shaggy-dog story. Meh. On to issue #10.

Mouse Skull Entertainment said...

You guys just can't take a joke...

(Nothing rhymes with: "Piss off you jerks!" either...)

whc03grady said...

There were hints before (e.g. the Judge referencing the Challenger accident), but isn't it confirmed that 'Cerebus' takes place on Earth by that pull back in 'Form & Void' that begins the Africa sequence?


Jeff said...

Grady, I stand corrected (confirmed?). Page 486 of Form & Void.

Lee Thacker said...

It's never even entered my head that Cerebus takes place on a different planet than our Earth. I've always read it as a 'pre-dark-ages-dark-ages' or maybe, Biblically, 'pre-flood' timeline with echoes and foreshadowing of what's to come in our own time (when talking aardvarks are no longer a part of the 'big plan'.)