Monday, 5 March 2018

Reading Cerebus #11

Hi, Everybody!

"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,
Something something something,
(If you don't like it, write your own damn jingle...)
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 11 - The Merchant & The Cockroach

Orthodox Regular Revenge. Not Unorthodox at all...
In sole possession of "The Lotus", Cerebus heads to Beduin in search of a buyer, and finds more than he bargained for.


Image courtesy of Hsss!
The first 10 issues of Cerebus were built around a simple premise of Conan done as a funny animal book, but with issue 11 Dave has added another wrinkle to the story. With the introduction of The Cockroach, we are treated to another realm of parody: the tropes of established superheroes.

As one of the more canonical of all superheroes, Batman is rife for parody. A billionaire playboy by day, dark knight of vengeance by night. But, what if you replace the bat with something a bit more Kafka-esque...say, a cockroach? How about, mild mannered sorcerer turned merchant by day, lunatic "vengeance" seeking cockroach by night?

Image courtesy of Hsss!
Now, why would I put quotes around "vengeance"? Well, you see, the folks that The Cockroach keeps attacking and stealing the money of, have actually committed no crime that we are aware of. In his mind however, these people are the "red claw followers" who he claims are responsible for his parents death. Thing is, he has been doing this for 30 years, so how many of these followers could possibly be responsible?

Images Courtesy of the Living Tarim, and
This is lunacy only matched by The Punisher's war on crime: a never ending war that goes beyond personal vengeance and stems into the realm of judge, jury, and executioner of anyone who he deems guilty of wrong. In one night, we see The Cockroach attack/kill two such villians, but when expanded across the period of 30 years, that means he has possibly done this to over 21,000 people resulting in the treasure horde in his wall and his nonchalance at spending 100 gold on a magic artifact which he throws in the river.
Image Courtesy of 
Final Thoughts

Overall, this issue feels thin in comparison to previous stories. Once Cerebus finds The Cockroach's treasure horde, we know that he will hatch a plot to steal the gold just as he did to steal The Lotus and other previous prizes. The Cockroach doesn't feel fully formed (his merchant alter-ego lacks a name), and is too easily tricked for my liking. Is it a miss? No, probably more of a "hiss".

Join me back here next week as we look at Issue 12: "Beduin By Night"

Currently Listening To: The Very Best of Jerry Garcia

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.

1 comment:

Gene Phillips said...

Good point about the Cockroach's victims. Guess I'd always thought he was attacking crooks who didn't know him from a hole in the ground, just like the Punisher. But yeah, they coulda been complete innocents.

A CEREBUS re-read sounds like a great idea. Wish I had time for it.