Eric: Who is Issue 1's narrator? Dave clearly chose to have a narrator rather than just captions. Did he know who the fictive narrator was or not? Are there other fictive narrators later in the story (I can't remember)?
Andy: Issue two's narration (and to a lesser extent Issue one's) is a straight-up copy from the style of Robert E Howard's Conan stories. These always tended to start off with "Having left behind the large-breasted snow monsters, Conan headed South, towards the city of A''jk'cvax where he knew that a warrior of his stature would easily find hire as a blackboard monitor to the children of the rich." and then carry on to the actual story. As Cerebus is a Conan pastiche at this time, it's not surprising that the narration style is similarly lifted.
Rick: Most interesting Cerebus quotation: "Cerebus has his feet in two worlds. Though I was born to be a warrior, the ways of sorcery are not unknown to me."
Rick: This was a nice introduction to the "legendary warrior" who showed that he possessed both Might and Intelligence. Everyone loses while Cerebus wins. Wow, is that ever going to change.
Eric: The narrator says that "later he would be called the finest warrior to enter our gates". Has this happened yet? Indeed, what city is this story set in? I think that it is probably eshnosapur(?), since it is southern, and the name (to me) fits the slightly arabesque architecture.
Eric: The mystery of Clovis. Prosaically Dave says in response to a letter in Issue 3 that Clovis is the pen name of Deni's brother. Interestingly however, Clovis was also the first Merovingian King (in what is now France). Clovis was also (according to the book 'The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail') a lineal descendent of Jesus, in the finest join the historical dots up via the Knights Templar tradition.
Eric: How common are Aardvarks? The final panel of Issue 1 has the narrator say "...the first time they had heard an earth pig laugh", which suggests that they had heard earth pigs do other things in the past. The suggests that they are more prevalent than one might think.
Eric: In the afterword Dave says that he has been thinking about doing a Cerebus comic for six months. It seems to me that during that time he probably did plan out some story 'surprises' although not to the depth that he did later. This means that it is fair to assume some things were planned from early on and weren't folded in retroactively.
Eric: In the fights this issue (and the fight with the skeleton from issue 1) it becomes clear that Cerebus is pretty much the only right-handed swordsman. What is the significance of this? Can anyone hazard a guess?
James Moar: I don't know anything about sword-fighting, but in some sports, it's an advantage to be left-handed, since the rarity of left-handedness will result in a left-handed player being familiar with the playing style of right-handed players, whilst a right-handed player will have a lot less experience with the style of left-handers. It could apply to sword-fighting as well. In Estarcion, it seems the proportions of left- and right-handedness are reversed, so the advantage works the other way round.
Eric: For those keeping count of the Ten Commandments, stabbing an unconscious man to death (even if he would have done the same to you) is murder to me. Nine to go. Interestingly the Borealan thinks Cerebus is southern in this incident. Does he mean 'more southern than me' or is he just mistaken; or is it a mistake?
Eric: How erudite is Cerebus? Whilst in Khem's cave Cerebus can read the ancient script on the wall, and remembers an 'ancient tome' with Khem's legend in.
Eric: Cerebus calls Terim a 'northern god', hmm. On page 16, Dave uses both Terim and Tarim on the same page, which suggests to me that they were separate in his mind at this point. See Topics: Religion.
Eric: With regard to the business about having no soul there is the additional sidelight in that Khem's inability to snare Cerebus leads to all of the souls being released. It is interesting to note that if Cerebus had been caught he would be "awaiting a saviour to break the succubus' control", thus for some souls he has been a saviour.
Eric: Anagrams: Henrot is an anagram of Thorne, as in Frank Thorne, who was a fellow artist with Dave, correct me if I'm wrong. Has anyone spotted any other recognisable anagrams among Dave's characters' names?
Eric: Dancing: Sophia says about dancing "...Dance...I wouldn't want to do it for a living", a line to ponder perhaps; or maybe just a casual remark.
Eric: Cerebus' Appearance: Page 7, he's described as a grey beast. It is still not clear on the how and why of his appearance.
Eric: Lettering: On page 10 we see one of the very earliest inklings of where Dave's expressive lettering might be going. Anyone want to throw in some more examples?
Eric: In continuity corner we should note that at the beginning of #4 Cerebus has lost his helmet, gained a waistcoat and painted his medallions. Issue #5 sees him sans waistcoat only for it to reappear in issue #6.
Mitch: [FUTURE COMMENT] And in the "What exactly are these damn things" speech in MINDS, Dave notes that Cerebus TRADED his helmet for some paint and the vest, in order to look more like a merchant in the "big city", which started the chain reaction that leads to him not awakening the Pigt Idol.
Anthony: In the intro to Cerebus #5, Dave writes (and I am paraphrasing) that it was around this time (prior to #5) that he had gotten Cerebus' origin straight in his head. He continues that the ending of the issue is "self-indulgent" and that if we (the reader) did not get it...it may be because we are not supposed to.
Anthony: Aardvark symbols in the Pigts' Great Hall (where Bran Mac Muffin gathers them to announce that their Redeemer has returned for the first time in a 1000 years). However...and maybe I am trying too hard, see the images of the tree in which Cerebus went into to get out of the rain. It is in a Y-Shape and resembles some of the simplified aardvark symbols seem later in that issue (specifically the panel...sorry, notes at home...where the Pigts are about to lead C back to their tunnels).
Eric: Yes, the is the first reference to Cerebus' age. He seems disturbed by Bran's knowledge/guess. It seems to me that he doesn't like the fact that he is in some way constrained by fate. By the end when he destroys the idol he is in a rage about being himself, not something constrained by others ideas and beliefs about him. What drove Cerebus to this position, I must confess that I don't really know.
Eric: In terms of our watching for signs it should be noted that the Pigt's idol is described as representing a 'redeemer'.
Eric: Also, Cerebus tells us (in #6) that he has no navel. This would seem like a bit of a throwaway comic line (he doesn't have one because of the way that he is drawn) but given that the editorial in #5 says that Dave had begun to sort out Cerebus' origins I think perhaps we can read more into it, or at least put it on the list of things that go hmm? in the night.
Mitch: Hey! Wait a second... this is a MAJOR line. It didn't even occur to me in previous re-reads (IIRC, it was brought up because of the Apricot Brandy, correct?), but think about this for a second. No navel? Doesn't this (theoretically) mean NO UMBILICAL CORD? Suddenly Cerebus' entire BIRTH process is at question here.
TTM: But the point is made that he has no navel. Yet he is "Earth Pig Born"... Could it be that he was born, yet has no Mother? What? A creature born without a Mother? Wouldn't that be something the Cirinists would want to eliminate?
Mitch: Well, lets go to our trusty Dictionary.com and see if we can shed some light: born (bôrn): adj. Abbr. b. Brought into life by birth. BROUGHT INTO EXISTENCE; created: A new nation was born with the revolution. The emphasis is mine (a la Dave, i may add =P). He can be an Earth Pig born and have been BROUGHT INTO EXISTENCE by forces other than natural childbirth. If i were "Cirin", yes, this would worry me a lot.
marc: It will be interesting to see just when Cerebus becomes obsessed with sex. Is it possible that, in these early issues, he hasn't hit puberty yet? Knowing (minor future spoiler) how long lived he is, it seems reasonable to assume that puberty would hit later than it does in humans.
SSWR (aka Eric): P. 142 of the phonebook (2nd page of i7) panel 2: "But Cerebus is a follower of the 'old ways,' so he has taken the direct route..." The "old ways" is in quotes. What does this signify
Lenny: I got the impression that he's been around the block...had experiences. He's a regular kinda guy.
SSWR: p. 146 The Black Sun priests' chest symbol was identified by Dave in Minds as a stylized, inverted aardvark head. So that's the Pigt statue, K'cor's Venusian Symbol, and the Black Sun chest logo, so far...
Lenny: Did Dave say that? I looked at it closely- doesn't seem like one to me!
SSWR: p. 149 ...and of course, the Nameless One...
SSWR: p. 151 Lyran the Death Dealer looks like Death from i4, and Cerebus describes the Black Sun as Death worshippers on p. 144.
SSWR: p. 158 Cerebus lost his sword here. We never see him retrieve it, but I guess that happens "off camera."
SSWR: p. 160 Once again, the monster looking for Cerebus's soul.
SSWR: p. 170 Cerebus: "No one drugs Cerebus and lives to tell of it." Clearly Cerebus has a change of heart by the time of his first marriage.
SSWR: p. 174 The doctor IMPLIES that the Conniptins once had Iest. Is anyone keeping track of political history here?
Lenny: That would be a great thing to track (hint hint )
Fangirl Notes: Alexx has a timeline up at his webiste. The Cerebus Timeline version 3.0 is up and goes up to Latter Days.
SSWR: p. 181 Cerebus believes that Imesh is part of the Hsifian Khanate.
SSWR: p. 183 Narrator: "Cerebus decides to lobotomize himself if his brain doesn't learn to mind its own business!" Cerebus already has the fragmented personality so evident in Guys.
SSWR: p. 186 Cerebus STILL thinks that the Hsifians control Imesh. Consistancy! Good!
SSWR: p. 192 Imesh was run by a council of elders until K'cor took over. K'cor: "By Gilash's third eye." This COULD be a reference to the Shaman-King from Minds. Have there been any other third eyes in Cerebus?
SSWR: p. 197 More Big Glowing White Strange Things. Sperical, too, if that's your angle (or angel, for that matter).
SSWR: p. 201 Oop! K'cor's breastplate. Another aardvark head (ears and forelock marked on it, with K'cor's belly as snout).
SSWR: p. 205 Cerebus' Republican (or, dare I say it, Democratic?) ideals are expressed here for the first time.
SSWR: p. 206 K'cor says that the Conniptins are dead, and Cerebus believes him. Shades of "Alone, unmourned and unloved?" Gives us hope for Cerebus' status at death, considering what really happened to the Conniptins.
Lenny: Additionally, these issues add to the idea of Cerebus being a magnet for key events. The idea of Cerebus leading armies to conquer the world, as started in the Pigt issue, continues here.
SSWR: p215 Meirgen: "A scum-sucking sawed-off Khaiven! You can't take over our country by force, so you hound us in other lands!" Check your map of Estarcion. Khaidoge the Ungovernable is blocked from the T'capmin Kingdoms (Meirgen's homeland) by the Wall of Tsi.
Mibbitmaker: p.213 - Sophia licks Cerebus' doomed ear!
SSWR: This one is very significant. Dave's break-down has been mentioned, but not enough weight has been given to the fact that he conceived of the large structure of the series in an LSD-inspired flash. Also, Dave drew most or all of the issue under the influence of acid, and the art has taken a leap in quality as a result of Dave deviating from stictly imitating other comics. This is were Cerebus goes from being an inflated fanzine to a serious comic.
SSWR: p231 The Merchant just threw the Lotus into the Feld River.
SSWR: p231 The Merchant just threw the Lotus into the Feld River.
SSWR: p243 Cerebus: "Aluminum siding doesn't grow on trees!" Large quanities of electricity are required to produce aluminum. Considering the method used for Ham's electroshock therapy, I'm guessing that generator's do not exist in the Aardvarkian Age. Perhaps wizards use lightning spells to make aluminum. Or maybe the word aluminum doesn't mean what we think it does. Wow, this is really putting the minute into minutiae!
SSWR: p264 Cockroach: "Stand where you are, mortal!" ???
Issue 13: Black Magiking
Mibbitmaker: Early hint of Feldans as French in the Aardvarkian Age. "Pardon my Beduinese." - Jaka's Story "Sayr-a-buss"
Margaret notes: p8, this was a priest refering to Cerebus, also commented on by Dave in the letter column.
Mibbitmaker: p.288, last panel - hard to tell, drawing-wise, how they are traveling. cerebus' dialogue tells us they are. FUTURE SPOILER Necross-to-Thrunk transition predicts Deadalbino (Dead Elrod's spirit stays alive in other vessel) ......(Necr = Death)
Margaret: p2: "A creature of Sorcery!" Someone refering to Cerebus
Margaret: p3: Cerebus replies "Cerebus is no creature of Sorcery"
Margaret: p5: "...not looking like the rest of us." Priest of Tarim about Cerebus
Margaret: p15: "...short, grey furry person..." Necross the -hahahaha - Mad about Cerebus.
Margaret: p17: Note: Necross is wearing an hourglass necklace which looks like the one "Death" wears.
Mibbitmaker: Would-be assassin tells the TRUTH about Lord J, and Cerebus agrees. Titles "handed out like party favors", to "concubines... NEICES[my emphasis],...themselves" (Jaka, Lord Julius)
Margaret: Lord Julius refers to Cerebus as "pointy-eared" (p9) and "shorter and grayer" (p19).
Mibbitmaker: p.321: Old city (in) Palnu swallowed up in earthquake. FUTURE SPOILER: Iest later destroyed by earthquake. Both considered decadent by Church of Tarim.
Mibbitmaker: p.325: C:"Lord Julius, Cerebus will be needing a sword" "Eye of Pyramid" survived for a thousand years.
Margaret: p6: A priest of Tarim refers to Cerebus as "dwarves in decadent fur costumes"
Margaret: p10: "Festival of Petunias" Early reference to Petuniacon?
Margaret: p11: Lord Julius makes a marijunia joke. Cerebus again thinks quick on his feet saving them from the "shadow crawler."
Lenny: One of the interesting things I'm finding in these early issues is that Cerebus appears to be much more the player than the pawn he'll be in future issues. He appears to be fully in touch with what's going on- and seizing the reins of control We saw that markedly in issue 10, when he captures the Lotus, the Cootie issues where he grabs all the gold, the Palnu Trilogy where he's effective as minister of secur..err..kitchen cabinet supervisor, and now in his plans to lead the T'Gapns (or whatever they're called). Seeing Cerebus come up with a plan to defeat Krull or get the gold from the Merchants- was excellent. I think this image of Cerebus - the clever coniver who loves to drink, gamble, and hack also - is one a lot of people come back to when they think of what they like about Cerebus. This is the fun part that offsets the sumbitch who throws babies around.
Lenny: It's also a marked contrast to the Cerebus we see later. The Cerebus as a pawn manipulated by Astoria and Weisshaupt. The Cerebus hiding up in Jaka's attic, or manipulated by "Dave" or by Jaka or, now, by Cerebites. It seems that in his younger days, Cerebus was much more able to control the aspects of being at the center of things that being an Aardvark appears to entail. Aside from his grasping the reins back for a while when he exercises his papal power, I don't think we really see this Cerebus again, and wonder if we ever will. Perhaps this reflectsa change in Dave's lifeview too. He certainly seems more grim and more the victim these days than he did back then (as a quick read of any Sqords of Cerebus blurb or even letters column response shows).
Mibbitmaker: p.337 - Julius "suggestion" Cerebus might be candidate for office. A snide aside, but STILL....Elass and Turg return: foreshadow end of issue, Jaka's "return" to story.
"Eric": Going back a bit to #18 there is a fairly long sequence where Cerebus and Graus are looking for information about Palnu in someone's house. Enough effort goes into making certain that the reader cannot avoid knowing that the occupant was an avid star/moon gazer. Knowing how these figure in the wider story, is this the first time that they are drawn attention to? Dave could for example have had the house occupied by an alchemist so it must have been important to him to draw attention to it. Any guesses as to who's house it was?
"Eric": Rereading Mind Games last night I had a couple of thoughts. There has been a thread of discussion here about whether the current Cerebus believes the religion of Ricke or whether he is dissembling for his own ends. In issue 20 he shows that he can dissemble with the best of them and on two fronts simultaneously. I was also struck by the fact that the Cirinists where, effectively, going to bind him in one of their holy places. I seems almost that these events mirror the events occurring at the opposite end of the book.
Lenny: We learn that Upper Felda is ruled by the Cirinists and that Lower Felda has a treaty with the Sepran Empire.
Lenny: Reference to a 5 Day Rebellion in Eshnospur. What else do we know about that place? Teresa is Lord Julius' niece - is Jaka her sister? Not necessarilly? Or am I mixing up my family tree figurings?
mitch: We have debated this issue here on this list before. Personally, i think Teresa is Julius' "neice" rather than Julius' neice. She can be Jaka's cousin instead of her sister if Julius has multiple siblings.
Lenny: Well- is there any evidence one way or the other? or does all speculation stem from these issues? Here's ONE clue that the sister is NOT Jaka: Teresa says that her sister came by and visited just a few days after the events of c14-16. However, at the end of c16, Jaka has just written a letter to Julius asking about what's new. So unless Julius used the aardvarkian equivalent of Fed Ex (which, admitedly, is possible for the ruler of the city-state), then this was ANOTHER niece who was in Palnu during the events in quesiton and then went to the school.
Anthony: Actually...Theresa says Katrina's sister came to visit and told them of the heroism of the Grandlord of Palnu...her Uncle.
Lenny: Po authored a book of "fables" that mask spells. So Po has magical training?
Lenny: If Elrod is a manifestaiton of Cerebus' mind and shows up when he's failing (as has been claimed on this list), how can he have appeared at the School without Cerebus being around?
mitch: I think the question here is ... does Elrod *EXIST* when not dogging Cerebus? This retelling of the Elrod story seems to indicate yes. Perhaps Elrod's ability to cling like failure is only part of his existence, not his entire reason for being? He can "have a life", so to speak .. its just that fate/Dave has his life work out in such a way (just like Cerebus'), that he becomes the symbol of failure.
Lenny: Or Dave's later "explanation" of Elrod is a plot hole. Personally, the whole Elrod expanation always seemed a bit of anorigin story parody rather than a "true" explanation - and as such, was sort of besides the point.
Lenny: Does anyone know if the Artist a specific parody of a real person?
Issues 26 - 28
Lenny: Lotsa info on the political landscape courtesy of Mind Games II:
- We have a split church of Tarim: East/Serrea and West/Iest. The East appear to be the more liberal.
- We have the Cirinists who have a stronghold in Upper Felda
- We have the Illusionists who have no APPARENT power. (as you would expect of an "illusionist")
- More on Po: He's been meditated for the last 57 yrs or so and another reference to his age of 182 (I think that's it).
32 - 34: High Society 129 - 188
Lenny: Hilarious issues- this is prime Cerebus- the Astoria/Cootie/Cerebus "triangle" is terrific! I especially loved the exchange between Cerebus and Astoria about manipulative people and Astoria tolerance of controlled substances and Cootie's reaction to having his chick "hustled." And then Elrod gets thrown into the mix? Brilliant!
35 - 37: High Society 189 - 248
Lenny: Intro to the "new" MacMuffin- and continuing the theme of Cerebus having a grand destiny. Jaka's return has been discussed quite a bit lately. She definitely comes off as an altruistic selfless person here. But food for thought: to the extent she was being duplicitous, the "innocent martyr" bit would be a reasonable reaction to Cerebus' accusations that she's come around for a hand-out. But I think the implication here is that she WAS sincere (which is not inconsistent with the spoiled brat - this selfless act would be in keeping with her self-image as a truly wonderful person).
Lenny: The whole exchange with Cerebus trying to apply his new-found understanding of infer/imply was Picture PERFECT characterization of Cerebus: he's awash in a sea of new experiences/new goals and is redefining his self image to fit these experiences - but he's not quite there. This whole storyline shows that Cerebus isn't quite as clever as we're initially led to believe in the 1st volume of this series (where Cerebus is usually the smartest character around, and only fails to succeed due to external forces).
Lenny: And the on point comic book convention parody of Petuniacon.
38 - 40: High Society 249 - 312
Lenny: Petuniacon continues. One of my favorite sequesnce was issue 38's wonderful sequence of Cerbeus deciding he's had enough of Elrod and he's ready to cut him into "albino cutlets"- and Astoria's talking him out of it by extolling the virtues of a Prime Ministership. Fantastic!! More hijinx with Cootie and the Fleagles- great stuff.
Lenny: And the campaign trail begins. One of the things that's really hi-lighted here is Dave's oft-praised command of dialect. He really shines over the next few issues here from Dadocks and more.
Lenny: Cerebus' Appearance: A comment by Filgate, or someone, to the effect that "If you tell me he's an aardvark, I guess he is" and a reference to Cerebus' weird ears. Consistent with the general idea that people sort of know there's something different with Cerebus' appearance, but it just doesn't seem to phase them. Smells magical to me.
Lenny: Astoria's politics: So the Abbess, who is presumably a Cirinist (right?) is anti-Astoria. Is this the first we're seeing of Astoria's relationship to the Cirinists?
Lenny: Cerebus' as a magnet for greatness: We also see Cerebus' power over the masses here- with his ability to rouse crowds to high passion.
Mitch: I *knew* i wanted to mention something during this ... in that speech, doesn't Cerebus use "I" several times? Has Astoria been trying to force him to undo his accent?
Lenny: Unique Goat Story: One of my all-time favorite sequences. The Abbess as Margaret Dumont- spectacular! ("Those lips, those eyes, those nostrils!")
41 - 43: High Society 313 - 372
Lenny: Astoria & The Cirinsts again: Julius' newspaper echoes the break of Astoria from the Cirinists. Has it really happened? Or is Julius being Julius? At this point in the storyline, do we really know anything about the relationship between Astoria's Kevillism and Cirinism? I don't think we do.
Lenny: "Election Night" - Personally, on of MY favorite issues. This issue had it all: tension, drama, hilarity. I loved the page where we see each person's dream. A bit of the bizarre in Astoria's dreams of Fleagle (I forget which one). And Julius is at his best here. There's one particular line about his selling of the army for an octopus shaped gold tub ("Certainly SOUNDS like something I'd do") that I can't read without laughing aloud.
Lenny: What is Cerebus: There's a reference to Cerebus, as an aardvark, being of a different species. So once again, acknowledgement in passing of his difference with no great to do about it.
44 - 46: High Society 373 - 432
Lenny: "Summit Enchanted Evening" or Viaduct? : Another of my all-time favorite issues. Julius, Chico (with a Sepran/Roman toga over his sportscoat), and Cerebus mix it up - Dave knows his Marx Bros! "Avalanche is better than no lanche at all!"
Lenny: The wonderful thing about all of this is that admidst all the terrific humor, Dave is fitting all these events into a coherent plotline. The relationship between the citystates- Julius' control of the interest rates, Cerebus' machinations and attempted conquest. It all fits together- it's all planned out. Nice.
55 - 57: Church & State I 69 - 128
Lenny: 55 - Wolveroach parody - brilliant - he really nails it -- fact to note: Cerebus once worked as a tax collector and lived with a woman named Michelle who ran off with someone named Thomas.
Lenny: 56 - Charles X. Claremnot's manipulation of Cerbeus was classic -- Cerebus' appearance: he's decribed as 3 ft. tall with the demeanor of a puppy
Lenny: 57 - The United Feldwar States are set up as the ideological enemy of the Cirinists - authoring anti-feminist tracts
58 - 60: Church & State I 131 - 190
Lenny: 58: Diamondback allusions: Julius, Lafort of Lower Felda (have we seen him?), D'Ger of Togith (?), and Duke Leonardi are the Kings. Weishaupt trying to be a magician (a reference to his canons?). Cirin, Abess, Astoria, Wenda, Perce are Queens and Priestesses Cerebus evidentally believes in the Church vs. Weishaupt who is a secularist. "Something Fell" (for the 1st time?) Eastern Popes Harmony II, III, IV have been executed, perhaps because their beliefs align with Cirinism rather than Kevilism
Lenny: 59: Weishaupt's game of bluffs is shown. Western Bishop Powers is anti-Cirinist, and anti-Kevilist. How does this fit with his comments re execution of Harmony IV?
Lenny: 60: Astoria meets with the Abbess, The Cirinists control Upper Felda, They understand that Weishaupt is playing a dangerous game over his head, Weishaupt meets with Theresa
61 - 63: Church & State I 191 - 250
Lenny: 61: Powers and the Lion of Serrea (is this right? And is he the Western Pope?) (at this point in the story, do we know this?) Discussion over Weishaupt's plans: instability in the East due to the lack of a (live) Pope will allow him to move his armies into New Sepra (chico/Leonardi's place, right?) Weishaupt's ace in the hole revealed (boom)
Lenny: 62: Astoria was groomed to be Cirin's successor. Astoria may have had an abortion - she is cast as a radical feminist that believes that women mainitain full control over their bodies - including a fetus which is just property of the woman. The State has no right to interfere with this property right. Is this Kevilism in a nutshell?
Lenny: 63: Mind Game III - Cerebus is Pope. Mind Game IV - Cerebus' motivations: gold, power, sex, aging. Cerebus' insecurities: He's a stupid peasant, nobody cares if he lives or dies (which should make a similar future prediction of his ultimate fate a lot more scary!). Personal: Deni is still Deni Sim
64 - 66: Church & State I 253 - 312
Lenny: 64: Powers supposes Henrich-Gutch is a Kevilist (showing his opposition to that philosophy). Weishaupt: A Kevilist would use poison, where a Cirinist would use a blunt object. Weishaupt can't control Cerebus. Cerebus flexes his power (2 out of 3 ain't bad!)
Lenny: 65: Boobah's intro? Bear, who appeared in High Society, returns. "Tarim hates the poor and weak! (that's why they're poor and weak)" - among the highlights of the entire series - cerbus learning what REAL power (or is it?) is and loving every minute of it. Personal: 1st Time Deni Sim become Deni Loubert again? Is this Gerhard's 1st issue?
Lenny: 66: Astoria and theresa talk: hypothesize that Cerebus' throwing of the baby was a Kevilist act. Is this an extension of the view that fetuses are property? Another classic line: "You can get what you want and still not be happy." There's a run on the banks, threatening Weshaupt's secular power base. The Glowing Ball appears.
67 - 69: Church & State I 313 - 372
Lenny: 67: Bran MacMuffin returns. Astoria & the Abbess: trying to legitimze Cirin's cause. Predict that Cerebus will launch a papal crusade. The miracle of the handwriting.
Lenny: 68: "One less mouth to feed is one less mouth to feed", Cerebus gets sick, Weishaupt is getting desperate.
Lenny: 69: Cerebus defeats Weishaupt of the weak heart. The glowing ball gives Cerbeus a flaming nose. The Elf returns (or does she?)
70 - 72: Church & State I 373 - 432
Lenny: 70: The Elf is a fake - obviously? (Really? Didn't look fake to me - what was Cerebus seeing?) Who is the Elf talking to? Missing coins will mean the end of the world. Personal: Deni's last note
Dan P.: 70: Cerebus meets with a fake Regency Elf (which is apparently the Big Round Glowing White Strange Thing in disguise) and although he knows it's a fake he seems to take it somewhat seriously. When the Elf/Thing points out he said the world will end if he doesn't get all the gold in Iest and some of it is buried under tons of rock. You can almost see the gears turning in Cerebus' head. Why does he care at all? Does he really think the world will end or does he envision several hundred followers losing faith in their Pope when the world doesn't end and deciding they'll take it out on him? Or perhaps he's just putting on a show for the Fake Elf.
Lenny: 71: Tarim struck a gold coin - Cerbeus is scared of it. Further evidence that cerebus DOES have a belief in Tarim. Julius vs. Powers - what a wonderful scene! ("Treaty picnic" "Spikes a good dog")
Dan P.: 71: Okay, based on Cerebus' reaction on page 394 (2) I would guess Cerebus doesn't really think the world will end because he said so. But Bran does. On page 406 (14) Bran holds a coin and says it was struck by Tarim himself. Tarim the god? Or a historical figure on whom much of the god Tarim was based on? (Similar to Jesus). Page 411 (19): "Spike's a *good* dog..." Hee, hee.
Lenny: 72: More Powers vs. Julius - perfect! Cerebus & Bran discuss the ramifications of being allpowerful. Sophia has no fear of Cerebus' power. Tarim's coin is a magnet for other coins (huh?)
Dan P.: 72: More of Cerebus & Bran discussing the extent of Cerebus' power. When Cerebus asks what would happen if we told everyone the world wouldn't end but waited until the last minute, Bran has to pull back and think. Cerebus seems to be probing for a "hole" in Bran's faith in him although Bran comes back and says Cerebus could do it, but he (Bran) couldn't imagine the repercussions. I wonder if Bran had a particular "end of the world" in mind that was hard to imagine going back on if Cerebus changed his mind... Page 429 (17) has Cerebus picking up the coin struck by Tarim. It causes gold coins to rip out of bags, fly to his hand, merge together, and begin to form a gold sphere. Although Cerebus eventually receives a gold sphere via Weisshaupt for the ascension I can't help but think the results would have been different had he kept *this* gold sphere.
73 - 75: Church & State I 433 - 492
Lenny: 73: The light is sentient? And connected to Charles X. Claremont? Looks like he's still trying to manipulate Cerebus - through Jaka (I forget where this last piece of info came from)
Dan P.: 73: The Big Round Glowing White Strange Thing plants the seed that leads to Cerebus sending off Bear to bring Jaka to him. What *is* that thing, anyway?
Lenny: 74: Jaka returns - The "good Jaka" also the smart Jaka - logical. Cerebus' development: shows' a range of emotions and priorities. Personal: Deni's gone, Dave goes on tour.
Dan P.: 74: Jaka adopts the Elf's haircut. I'm sure I read somewhere in an interview that the background on page 463 (i74, p11) was intentionally distorted to reflect the tension in the room. I can see how some people have a hard time reconciling this Jaka with the one that appears in _Going Home_ and _Form and Void_. If Dave knew way back then exactly what he was setting up with Jaka, showing almost exclusively the good qualities, making the not-so-good qualities easier to ignore the way they are in the early stages of a relationship... my hat's off to him. It's a cool trick and these scenes sure read differently knowing what's to come. If he retconned it in his head as he went along, well, I'm less impressed. Either way it doesn't change a single line he put down on paper so it looks like I really don't have a point. On page 476 (i75, p4) this sounds an awful lot like Jaka's "wish" from page 56 of _Going Home_ (sorry, I don't have the issue page number handy). I would presume she doesn't go this time because she's pregnant. The Jaka who refuses Cerebus' gift of gold on page 489 (i75, p17) is quite different from the one who can't wear the same clothes two days in a row.
Lenny: 75: Jaka is preganant, Jaka fears the baby will make her ugly. We know she's going to abort though, so is ths whole episode an example of her manipulative ways? But then why refuse the money? What are her goals? Or did Dave rewrite her down the line? The Red Marches are conquered.
Dan P.: 75: see above comments
76 - 78: Church & State I 493 - 552
Lenny: 76: The death of Weisshaupt. Weisshaupt is portrayed as an egotistical idealist who sees himself as a pivotal figure in history. He can't even comprehend the fact that Cerebus is just a greedy primal force and not someone with an agenda. Interestingly, upon his death he has an epiphany in which he sees some special role that Cerebus is playing in the grand tapestry. He calls Cerebus Most Holy - which is startling in terms of the secular viewpoint he held throughout his life. Is this perhaps one of the 1st times that dave implies that there really IS something special about Cerebus above his obvious base nature?
Lenny: 76: Weisshaupt is the nephew of Suenteus Po. As we learn later Suenteus Po is an aardvark (assuming we're talking about the same Po). Weisshaupt knows there are 2 other aardvarks aside from Cerebus. Presumably he knows this in part because his uncle is one of them. He mentions that Cootie saw Po - this would imply that Cootie knows of the existence of at least one other aardvark (to the extent he can "know" anything) - is there ever any reference among Cootie's blather that he knows of another aardvark?
Lenny: 76: Weisshaupt tells cerebus that the other 2 aardvarks can stop him. Does Weisshaupt know Cirin is 1 of the aardvarks? I'd guess yes - but it's unclear. OIn favor of him knowing is Weisshaupt's feeling that the other 2 aardvarks would stand in opposition to Cerebus. Obviously Weisshaupt would think of Cirin as a foe of Cerebus.
Lenny: 76: Cerebus tells Weisshaupt to "go to hell" - as the word of the pope tends to come true, can we assume that Weisshaupt is in hell? I think there are future references to this being the case (I forget where though).
Dan P.: 76: Weisshaupt shows his cards... well, some of them anyway. There are two other aardvarks and Suenteus Po is his uncle. Po the aardvark? If so, he was really teasing Cerebus by dangling this in front of his face knowing the poor aardvark had no way of putting it together. I'm pretty sure Weisshaupt called for Cerebus to be by his side at his death after seeing the strange things that happened to other characters in the same situation (i.e. the Roach when he died as Bunky).
Lenny: 77: Dreams. Of course any attempt to draw "fact" out of these is subject to scrutiny..but perhaps some of it is true or related to truth ("all stories are true") Cerebus' appearance: As a child, Cerebus hid his ears from people. Cerebus sees the flung baby - guilt? Cerebus seems to be ascending. First reference to the Ascension? Chess imagery that we'll see later. The imfamous pissing scene.
Dan P.: 77: Dream issues! These are much more fun to read now than when they came out since there are almost 200 more issues of story to draw on. On page 516 (i77, p4) Cerebus' mother looks Asian to me. Is she seen anywhere else in the series? Page 522 (i77, p10) is an early look at the chess motif that would dominate Mothers & Daughters. 523-525 (i77, p11-13) foreshadow the role the moon will play at the tail end of Church & State. Page 540 (i78, p8) has the Woman Thing, who is also important at the end of C&S, but the Sump Thing is nowhere to be found.
Lenny: 78: More Dreams. "Astoria's changing the baby into another aardvark" - A hint that aardvarks are created magically? Astoria is refered to again as one of many 'nieces" of Lord Julius. Could this mean that Jaka was really a former lover of Julius as opposed to a blood relation? Probably not - but it's an odd allusion. Has it been explored elsewhere? Boobah & Astoria can be stopped. I'm assuming there's no hidden agenda for Boobabh- he's more of an elemental force of comedic mishap rather than a serious foe. Michelle vs. Astoria - reflecting Cerebus' feelings that they are opposing forces trying to manipulate him? The little girl with thte flowers - isn't there a short story in which she appears? And then she turns into the Elf - reflecting the Elf's childlike nature and Cerebus' warm feelings towards the Elf? The Wuffa Wuffa guy is back.
79 - 80: Church & State I 553 - 592
Lenny: 79: Cerebus gets stuck in the wall. Cerebus is the first pope to come halfway down to the lower city. So do we know what the distinction between the Upper & Lower city is? Is the Iestan govt/gentry in the upper city and the poor people in the lower city? Is Cerbeus' papal quarters in what was fomerly an Inn, or something like that on the road between the Upper and Lower city? There are 4 days until the end of the world (assuming Cerbeus doesn't get all the gold). Cerebus sneezes fire again and his cold returns. Cerebus is ticklish. Lord Julius and Duke Leonardi return - more perfect Marxian comedy by Dave. First mention of Julius' like-a-looks?
Dan P.: 79: More discussion about what would happen if the world doesn't end, this time from the Wuffa Wuffa Guy.
Lenny: 80: Sunrise - 3 days left to the end? Tarim fever sweeps through every decade or so. (Are we seeing another sweep through in the 270's?). It continues until someone says "enuf is enuf" - What's this mean? The mountain under the upper city is _____ (growing?) Pope Thrunk (Necross from issue 13) Bran's suicide: "We've made a mistake" - Bran & the Pigts? Bran & Cerebus? Is the mistake in believing in Cerebus? Or is the mistake in not believing in him enough? or what? Cerebus descends to the lower city. Art: awesome Gerhard buildings - Thrunk, etc. Dave's layouts are really opening up here and it's wonderful to see. One of the most exciting things for me is to watch an artist as his skills increase and he starts to flex his artistic muscles. I think these issues reflect that for Dave.
Dan P.: 80: Page 575 (3), the first hint that the mountain is growing.
81 - 83: Church & State II 595 - 654
Lenny: Claremont is still in Cootie - he appears trapped and fearful that the world will end by Cootie's actions. Cootie mentions the Ascension. Is this the 1st reference to it?
Lenny: Mention of conflict of Astoria vs. Cirin for the role of Queen - and that it's conceded that Astoria has the role of Priestess. (So you can play multiple roles?)
Lenny: The glowing ball appears while Cerebus is drunk. Funny stuff: Cerebus defeats Cootie with 1 hand - hilarious. also - LOVE the look of disdain/slow burn on Cerebus' face on the cover. Perfect! Parody: The Secret Wars of course - complete with crossovers, tie-ins, and extensive footnotes.
Dan P.: 595-614 (81): I dug out the original issues for this stretch and 81 has one of my all-time favorite back covers. Dave is signing an issue of Cerebus for a guy in a Spider-Man costume at a comic book convention. Made me laugh out loud when I saw it again.
Dan P.: The roach returns in the new Spider-Man-ish costume. I got hooked on comics around the time Secret Wars came out -- #7 was one of the earliest comics I ever bought -- and I loved it, even the new Spidey costume. I realize it was crushed in the fan press as pointless and inane, but it gets a free pass from me... I was the exact audience is was aiming for and I still regard it fondly today. That said, the parody of it in Cerebus is side-splittingly funny. "I... need... more... CHARACTER!" First mention of Scholarly Sacred Wars Roach too, on page 604 (10). Derkass, mentioned on page 609 (15), is 'Ssakred' (sacred) spelled backwards.
Lenny: Who's Henrot talking to? Have we seen him before? They discuss a competition to be "messiah" or "tarim on earth".
Lenny: Archie Goodwin speaks for Thrunk. Looks like the drawing is a reference to Archie's self caricatures that appeared on Marvel's mid-80's Bullpen pages and/or Marvel Fanfare (was that the name of the glossy paper book Marvel launched around that time?)
Lenny: Julius & Astoria discuss what Astoria's agenda which pretty much boils down to a woman's right to control her body - but ALSO ownership of men. I believe that before this point, Kevilism, Astoria's credo, was never attributed qualities that would make it different from a sane modern day feminist view. Is the endorsement of male ownership the 1st step in branding it a fanatic's movement?
Lenny: Once again, Astoria is referred to as the Priestess. Cerebus sneezes and his nose grows.
Dan P.: Page 619 (5) has a little Archie Goodwin repeating Thrunk's commands. Archie was an editor at Marvel Comics, suggesting that Thrunk could be seen as Jim Shooter (who is 6'7" tall). Archie (who has since passed away) seemed to be very well respected in the industry and I never saw anyone refer to him as Jim Shooter's lackey so I'm not sure why Dave used his caricature here. Page 624 (10) has a warm-up for the ascension. Does anyone know who the fellow with the mustache is? They all seem to be candidates for the messiah. The mustached guy gets knocked out of the running, but of the remaining "candidates" only Henrot isn't seen at the ascension...
Lenny: Touch Not The Priestess. As noted above, the Priestess has been a reference to Astoria. However, this issue centers on Michelle. It seems to me that Dave is drawing a parallel between Astoria and Michelle. Weisshaupt was Michelle's patron - she attended his university, he supported her, and he recommended books for her to read. One of the overriding themes in the series is that history is cyclical and it conforms to certain patterns. It appears that the would-be-key players in the current storyline are somewhat aware of this historical pattern. In this pattern, the key players align with figures in a Diamondback deck. So it seems to me, that the would-be key players, knowing the pattern, try to fulfill it - which makes it a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy. If Wesshaupt could ally himself with a woman who could play the role of Priestess or, perhaps, Queen - then HE could be the corresponding Priest or, perhaps, King. Hence Weisshaupt's alleged "trust" in Michelle- perhaps in her historical significance and use to him.
Lenny: Michelle says that most of what she previously told Cerebus was a lie. Like Astoria, I wouldn't trust Michelle as far as Elrod could throw her. Remember - Astoria is patterned after Mary Astor in general, and her role in The Maltese Falcon in particular. In that role she's a behind the scenes manueverer - constantly lying and shifting alliances towards her ultimate goal. Astoria clearly plays that part. Michelle, as an Astoria analog (a Priestess wannabe) ALSO plays that part. Her relationship to Cootie also mirror's Astoria's relationship to Cootie.
Lenny: Cerebus spends the issue nude. One would think with the discovery of his sexuality over the course of the series to this point, a concomitant modesty would exist. Apparently not.
Dan P.: Dan P.: Oh, no! The "everything you know is a lie!" routine.
Dan P.: But we won't get the truth until next issues. There was an interesting bit of advice in Aardvark Comment. The question was, "Where do you get your story ideas? What is your creative procedure (write complete script, draw...)?" Dave responded with: "Think, think, think. Project yourself into an alternate reality, understand as much as you can about it and become clinically schizophrenic. The stuff you are writing should never be less real to you than the real world. For those times when the alternative reality is more real than the real world learn how to pretend to be normal or you will end up in a looney bin (take my word for it)."
Dan P.: I wish there was some way to peer in Dave's brain when he was "visiting"Estarcion.
Lenny: The Artemis, Drew & Fleagle show - more inspired comedy.
Lenny: According to Michelle, Weisshaupt wanted Cerebus to be Tarim on Earth (triumph of the mundane over the sublime). He ALSO knew that Cerebus would lose the papacy (because he took measures to make sure Cerebus could regain it). The question here is WHEN did Weisshaupt tell Michelle all of this? Clearly on his deathbed. But was this BEFORE he met with Cerebus or AFTER? It looked to me like Weisshaupt died in Cerebus' presence - but perhaps he didn't. Assuming he did though, then Weisshaupt's conversation with Michelle was before his meeting with Cerebus and he correctly foresaw Cerebus' fall from the Papacy. In fact, given that his aid to Cerebus seems geared towards defeating a Thrunk-sized Pope, it appears that Weisshaupt knew of Thrunk's existence before he met with Cerebus and died (unless he died AFTER that meeting, which would mean that he was just reacting to circumstances and not being prophetic).
Lenny: Weisshaupt also predicted that Michelle will stand beside Cerebus at the Final Watchamacallit (presumably, Ascension - but perhaps not?). Reinforcing the idea that he perceived Michelle as a key player - a Priestess or Queen.
Lenny: Michelle's care for Cootie & co. was at Weisshaupt's behest. To distract Cerebus? Or because he knew that Cootie might attempt an Ascension? Or to mirror Astoria's care for Cootie. Is the role of the Priestess to care for the player whose role Cootie is assuming in this cycle of history?
Lenny: It's snowing out of season.
Lenny: "Keep y'hands t'y'self...oy've 'eard about you POWPS" Not only is Dave timely, but he's also timeless (ref. to a letter in this issue). Also, another example of Dave's unparalleled use of accents. Gotta love Mick & Keef.
Lenny: 150 proof T'Capman whisky is renowned. We know of Borealean whisky too. Any others?
Lenny: The mountain under the upper city has faces on it. Is this the first time we see these faces? Or am I forgetting earlier issues? If not, when DO we see faces on the mountain the 1st time?
Lenny: Elrod is back
Lenny: Elrod wants to "touch the face of Tarim" According to Cootie, Wesshaupt predicted the freakish summer snow. Cootie is climbing up the mountain to meet the Priestess- Astoria. Astoria's destiny is to be main squeeze to the Messiah - NOT to a prime minister/pope. So it appears that Cooite, in his continuing efforts to be Astoria's main squeeze, is trying to become the messiah. It also appears that he's been briefed by Weisshaupt on what to do. But does this imply that Wesshaupt wanted Cootie to be the messiah? It was implied earlier that he wanted Cerebus to achieve that role. "Exposition is not going to wash away the sins of mankind...must...act...NOW!" Cerebus gets a vision: "NOT THE ROACHES" Claremont tells him: "Don't let him reach the gold..the black tower is growing" What's this mean? Read in conjunction with Claremont's earlier distress, it appears that Cootie is positioning himself to be on top of a growing black tower with gold in his possession and that this action will endanger the world. Are these the ingredients for the Ascension? Holding gold while on a growing tower? Is the fear that the world will end based on an assumption that Cootie could never successfully complete an Ascension?
Lenny: We get a long view shot of the mountain. It seems like the lip of the mountain on the right side is a little higher and narrower than other points. Is THAT the tower? Or is the entire mountain the tower?
Lenny: The tower is leaning. Claremont says it's falling.
Lenny: Bishop Towers prays to the Lion (Eastern Pontiff) to save them.
Lenny: Cootie reaches the top where Astoria is (which is the midpoint between the upper and lower city, right?). Astoria is ecstatic that Cootie's made it to the top - but time is urgent - the tower is about to___ (fall?). Cootie just brushes the "bitch" aside (so much for true love!)
Lenny: Dave states that the next novel, Mothers & Daughters will be a Cirinist/Kevilist/Love story (which I really don't think it can be characterized as, can it? Or was he being sarcastic?)
Lenny: Cerebus keeps climbing - "not too late" (for what? to stop the Cootie's Ascension?)
Lenny: Cootie is kicked off the mountain by Thrunk - Astoria tries to reach the gold herself, but see mini Cerebuses as Cerebus reaches the top.
Lenny: Astoria shouts that Cerebus will "ruin everything" as she's so close to winning. Cerebus says "Go away" and Astoria vanishes.
Lenny: Cerebus reaches Weisshaupts' cannons. Weisshaupt had been expecting him ("Good luck - W.") Cerebus blows Thrunk's ankle and head off. (TERRIFIC shot of Cerebus doing this: "Damn Right!")
Lenny: Thrunk is defeated, Cerebus goes back to his headquarters, only to face...Boobah! (perhaps he IS a threat! ;^)
Lenny: So what happened? To the extent that Astoria wanted to complete a Final Ascension, then perhaps her view of things was that you needed a figure on top of the tower (which would be satisfied by Cootie making it to the top) and then gold attained (which would be satisfied by Cootie getting the gold, or Cootie helping Astoria get the gold, or Astoria getting the gold herself). The 1st possibility, Cootie getting the gold isn't consistent with Astoria's comments in a few issues from now (96) where she implies an Ascension is a female rite that's been screwed up by men for years. So perhaps she was hoping to use Cootie to give HER gold so SHE could Ascend? However, why is she so dismayed when Cerebus appears? Perhaps because she thinks that HE will get the gold and attempt an Ascension? Or she's afraid he'll stop HER from doing it. IN any event, it seems Clarement was afraid that Cootie's attempt would fail - and the Tower would fall down. Cerbeus seemed to share this fear (or was just listening to Claremont).
Lenny: Then we have Weisshaupt's role. Did he forsee ALL of this? Thrunk and Cerebus. As I mentioned earlier, either he forsaw it all, or perhaps Weisshaupt DIDN'T die in Cerebus' presence - but shortly after so that he saw Thrunk. In any event, Weisshaupt is helping Cerebus. Either so that Cerebus' mundaneness will triumph - or because Weisshaupt finally saw the light of Cerebus' holiness.
Lenny: More dreams - last issue in Sacred Wars chapter of C&S. Of course, since it's dreams, the factual value is questionable, still, images include...
Lenny: The Lion's emblem is seen on a door, a chair of mountain-like skulls, Bran's death (how does Cerebus, who is dreaming this, know Bran is dead - did he see him kill himself? I forget). An emaciated dying Weisshaupt is seen through a keyhole. Astoria, once again, has no ___ (Priest?). The Prime Minister needs only 1 ear to defeat Weisshaupt. Weisshaupt offers a position to Astoria? ("Think of your career" "you'll ruin everything"). The Tower is still growing (still time to do a Final Ascension?). Thrunk dressed as president's ankle. A sword in a scabbard. The Moon. The Elf tell Cerebus he's forgotten something - the coins become a sphere and "you go up". Cerebus awakens and looks at the gold coins that appear to be forming a sphere.
Lenny: It appears that most of the imagery is a conglomeration of Cerebus' experiences in C&S. The sword in the scabbard, I believe, is the same Sword that Astoria uses to kills the Lion (seen in issue 98 - The Trial). The dream clearly implies that there's time for Cerebus to do a final Ascension - and gives him the formula to accomplish it: a gold sphere and "you go up" - on the Tower that's still growing.
Lenny: Issues 90-101 comprise the "Astoria" chapter of C&S....
Lenny: Cerebus' head is in a glowing sphere. Sophia has a hilarious one person "conversation" with Cerebus. Julius and Leonardi are either really quick sign painters, or they knew Cerebus' head would become engulfed in a sphere (I wouldn't look too closely at this - when Julius is around, the normal rules of reality give way to those of comedy). Julius is going to be inaugurated (as president of the United Feldwar States - Weisshaupt's successor?)
Lenny: The Lion of Serrea, Western Pontiff has been assassinated, reuniting the 2 churches (why? assassinating the Eastern Pontiff didn't reunite the churches). Powers brings the Albatross- is THIS why the Churches are reunited - if the Pontiff whose side holds the Albatross dies, the churches reunite? Where'd we last see the Albatross? High Society in the artist's bag? How did Powers & the Eastern church get it? (Is my memory fuzzy here -or we just don't know these answers?)
Lenny: Dave uses the picto-dialogue style which he's used from time to time. He's TERRIFIC at this I think - in particular I recall an Epic Illustrated story (issue 26, His 1st Fifth?)dealing with young Cerebus and a furnace that had me laughing totally out loud).
Lenny: Talking with Tarim. Here we have the Final Ascension formula confirmed: a sphere of purest gold + standing ON the tower raises you to heaven. So what was Astoria planning? Did she have access to a sphere of purest gold? Did she know that that's what was needed?
Lenny: The glowing sphere, which appears to be Tarim (or is it Po?) states that he attempted to Final Ascend 7 times in 7 lives over 100's of years.
Lenny: Weisshaupt and Cirin each simultaneously discovered an ancient text that details the Final Ascension. So now we know the source of Weisshaupt foresight. Perhaps these texts outline the whole history that is repeating itself now.
Lenny: Coins were invented when "tarim" flattened gold spheres in a Final Ascension attempt.
Lenny: And we also learn the dire consequences of a FAILED Ascension attempt: the Tower falls and everyone dies. (Hence Claremont's terror).
Lenny: And the results of a Final Ascension: You rise to heaven, hang out with Tarim, return as Redeemer, and lay down the law for humanity.
Lenny: The Glowing Sphere suggests that it is "a" messiah (not THE messiah) - reemphasizing the cyclic nature of history. It also suggests that Cerebus NOT try an Ascension - more attempts to manipulate Cerebus? This strikes me as very Po-like.
Lenny: Tarim, apparently, accepts everyone - not quite in keeping with Pope Cerebus' interpretation of the gospel ("Tarim HATES poor people").
Lenny: Cerebus decides he will attempt to Ascend and returns to earth.
Lenny: The Applicant. Back-up story drawn by Colleen Doran: A young woman is sexually harassed on a job interview. We see Bear - showing their friendship goes back. Who is the woman? Michelle? Friend of women everywhere, Dave comes out AGAINST rape/sexual harassment (in the preface to the story). He also emphasizes that "no means no" - Dave will return to the issue of rape in a few issues from now.
Lenny: Cerebus is Pope of the unified church of Tarim. Powers refers to the Western church as blasphemous sinners and bows to Cerebus - the implication being that as Cerebus is the ultimate victor here, he was right all along, and to oppose him had been a sin.
Lenny: Bill Mox & Set - are these parodies of real life people? (The artist Seth?) Dave looks at the relationship of art and business here.
Lenny: Cerebus continues in his plan to Final Ascend.
Lenny: Powers tells Cerebus that if he doesn't judge the assassin of the Western Pontiff, the Lion, Legions will attack Iest. So we see the delicate balance between Church and State continues.
Lenny: Astoria is the assassin ("sounds like my ex-wife")
Lenny: Astoria assassinated the Lion - and Sorcery was involved (Cerebus' teleportation of Astoria?) Cerebus wants gold coins melted into a sphere. More Dark Knight parody and Mick & Kef are back.
Lenny: Astoria in chains (a PERFECT time to renegotiate the alimony settlement!)
Lenny: The Lion had been on his way to kill Cerebus - he was killed by a knife to his chest & throat.
Lenny: Astoria points out that Cerebus has killed a Pope himself - Thrunk. History IS written by the victors.
Lenny: Cerebus assesses his relationship with Astoria: Astoria causes trouble so Cerebus will turn to her for help.
Lenny: Astoria displays her relationship to Cerebus in microcosm to perfection: she effortlessly manipulated him into giving her a drink of water.
Lenny: Astoria refers to Cerebus' "acquired taste" in women as she teases him. Cerebus takes the bait - he gags Astoria, proclaims his marriage to Sophia over and marries Astoria, his second wife. He then consummates the marriage.
Lenny: Was Astoria teasing Cerebus with the assumption that he'd never act because it would be out-of-marriage adulterous sex? Or was she manipulating him into impregnating her? Dave shows us Astoria's thoughts - she's clearly surprised at what happens - so it appears she did NOT want to have sex with Cerebus. Dave explicitly states in a Letter from the Prez (issue 99) that not only was it rape, but he's shocked that people are even debating the point. Interestingly, Astoria doesn't appear traumatized by the rape - she's humiliated ("how DARE you?") - in keeping with the strength of her character - and arrogance.
Lenny: Cerebus Dreams. Apparently, he's feeling some guilt over the rape - the image of chains (Astoria's) dominates the dream and he sees himself as a soldier. He sees a Sophia/Astoria amalgam.
Lenny: Dave makes wonderful use of page bleeds as he shifts from dream to reality - he's just getting so good and working so well with Gerhard - it's breathtaking to see.
Lenny: "3" = danger - Weisshaupt's cannons are right behind Cerebus. A statue of Cerebus is only partially built - we see hollow legs. A reference to the tower? To Thrunk?
Lenny: Letter Page: Ed Masters theorizes that Cootie, Elrod, Sophia, and Jaka are all "index points" of what Cerebus is doing at a given time - "externalized representations of aspects of Cerebus' personality." When they interact, it's representative of conflict within Cerebus. Cootie represents extremism. Dave's reply: "Sounds like a lot of solipsism to me."
Lenny: The conclusion to "Astoria"...whew....
Lenny: There's a flaw in the sphere Cerebus is having made - it must be recast.
Lenny: As it turns out, no real surprise, Astoria knows all about the final Ascension. It's a hundreds of years old sacred trust between Terim and HER followers. Males have attempted it several times over the past 7000 years and have invariably failed as Terim knocks down the Tower and crushes the men.
Lenny: Cerebus wants to see Weisshaupt's soul so he can brag about winning. Apparently he's forgotten Weisshaupt's apparent help to him. Also, it doesn't look like he assumes that Weisshaupt's soul is in hell where Cerebus sent it.
Lenny: Astoria appeals to Cerebus to not attempt a Final Ascension for the sake of unborn Iestans. (Why? what does this mean? Because he'll fail and kill the ancestors of the unborn?).
Lenny: Astoria apparently can read ancient Pigt. By official Church (?) proclamation, there's to be a trial at midnight. Why would official Church proclamations be written in ancient Pigt? A connection between the ancient Pigts who foretold of Cerebus the Redeemer - and the current church?
Lenny: Astoria and Cerebus have a theological discussion of Tarim vs. Terim. Astoria wonders how a creator can be so destructive. Cerebus acknowledges the right of a higher power to toy with lower beings (The children's game of ripping wings off of flies). Astoria points out that women who create resemble the creator more than men do.
Lenny: Tarim is pronounced TEAR-im. Terim is pronounced TAY-rim.(I've always thought of it as Tah-rim & Teh-rim - but what do I know?)
Lenny: Cerebus threw the baby because "babies stink" - Weisshaupt thought it meant that Cerebus was a Kevilist. Astoria admired it. This is consistent with the view of Kevilism that children are just property of their mothers to be disposed of as they will without interference of the state. It's also Dave taking Kevilism another step in the direction of extremism.
Lenny: Astoria authored a Kevilist manifesto (is this the 1st time we learn of this?) which has also made it onto the walls of some bathrooms. "1 Less mouth to feed" is part of that Manifesto. Continuing the Kevilist credo - women should not be tied down by children - death (abortion?) is viewed in pragmatic terms.
Lenny: Astoria's view of Cerebus' options (or Astoria does it to Cerebus again): If Cerebus doesn't kill Astoria, he's too soft on Kevilism and his life is in danger. If he kills Astoria, Cirin, who wants to kill Astoria herself, will invade and kill Cerebus in revenge. So the obvious solution is to just let Astoria escape. And Cerebus buys this - manipulated once again.
Lenny: The 2nd sphere ALSO has a flaw.
Lenny: The trial will be in the upper city and involves ritual - perhaps it's happened before?).
Lenny: The Trial. There's a spy sending messages somewhere via carrier pigeon. Evidently, the Western Church uses the term "Most Holy" and the Eastern Church uses "Your Perfection." Cerebus still considers the combined churches to be the Eastern church and rubs that in Powers' face (big surprise).
Lenny: Astoria tells how Cerebus' "go away" transported her into a room with a large man who she didn't recognize. She saw a knife and killed him - he didn't move and he wasn't surprised - he acted as if she had been there all along. Astoria told him to "go to hell" and he replied "I shall" - The image of a dying Weisshaupt is juxtaposed with this narrative. Astoria states that the Church will destroy itself as it always does - that's the truth.
Lenny: Cerebus asks Astoria - "what is truth?"
Lenny: Here we see the theme of cyclical history playing once more. The Lion knew what would happen - because it's always happened that way. We also see Cerebus/Weisshaupt's final exchange repeated between Astoria and the Lion. Is this a mini-echo of history? Is Dave drawing a parallel between the 2 acts? Can Cerebus' slap of Weisshaupt be seen as a deathblow/murder? Weisshaupt is the death of State - the Lion is the death of Church - are the 2 forces equivalent? Why didn't we ever meet the Lion? Is their destiny inextricably linked?
Lenny: Posey points out that if Astoria didn't know she was killing the Pope, the situation would be different (how? homicide instead of Papacide?)
Lenny: Astoria states that Truth is birth & rebirth of ALL. This contradicts Church doctrine that tarim is eternal and unchanging. Astoria apparently believes that human souls are eternal, like their creator. Astoria states that Cerebus will attempt to destroy truth and all will go wrong. Cerebus and Astoria are echoes. This is all consistent with the repeating cycles of history. The souls are just reborn in different shapes and history continues.
Lenny: In apparent confirmation of Astoria's words, we see the same scene with roles recast. This time Astoria is wearing religious garb. An aardvark is in chains. (initially I'd assumed this was Cerebus - but we'll learn subsequently, that the figure we're seeing is, in fact, Po). Astoria (as aardvark) continues: it always ends the same: the moon, words about justice, torch, flame, smoke.
Lenny: We see an image of someone burning at a stake while Cerebus presides and a sentence is read. The image COULD be the aardvark/Po figure we see earlier - it LOOKS like the figure has a snout and white hair - but it's unclear. HOWEVER, the figure is NOT wearing what Po was wearing - rather he's wearing what Astoria is wearing. And the Religious figure is NOT Astoria - it's Cerebus. Perhaps this is an echo of ANOTHER time altogether? Can anyone help here? (as another aside: Page 15, panel 1, on the righthand side of the flame - WHAT is that image? Sort of looks like a nipple around a log - anyone?)
Lenny: Cerebus (as Astoria) continues to talk - but makes reference to "Our Lady" - so history is blurring and mixing up (perhaps THAT'S the explanation for the view of the burning with mixed up roles and clothes?).
Lenny: Dave once again uses full page bleeds to terrific effect. He also uses growing vertical panel sizes to create a wonderful sense of drama.
Lenny: An aside on the vertical panels: The wonderful use in this issue notwithstanding, the cynical side of me will point out that around this time Dave was WAY behind in the schedule - months - much more than he's ever been over the run to date. So much so - that over these issues he caught up by putting the book on a bi-weekly basis. During this bi-weekly run we got several issues with these vertical panels in which there was A LOT of white space. Was this Dave's artistic plan all along? Would the issues have looked like this had he been on schedule? Or was he playing catch-up ball by skimping on the artwork? You decide! (although, as I said, it's beautiful in this issue).
Lenny: Note From the Prez: Dave states that the infallibility of the Pope is "one of the central themes" of C&S. The letters pages to follow discuss Dave's misunderstanding of Papal infalacy - but Dave sticks to his guns.
Lenny: We're back to full paneled issues. The 3rd sphere is flawed.
Lenny: As we return to the burning at the stake scene, Astoria describes the man's silent burning and SOMETHING which would not burn (do we learn later that it's his heart? I forget).
Lenny: Cerebus refuses to pass sentence on Astoria, washing his hands of the matter (hello Pontius Pilate) - HOWEVER - by killing the Lion, in keeping with Western church (but not Eastern church?) law - the killer of the pope is the new pope - so Astoria is the Western Pope. (So why is she in chains? Isn't this a sign that Tarim wants her to be Pope? Is it sexism - i.e. while she's TECHNICALLY Pope, a woman can't REALLY be Pope?)
Lenny: The Supreme Commander of the Western Legions under the Lion is ALSO the head of the Sepran army - and will act if Cerebus doesn't.
Lenny: The pigeon of a few issues ago makes it with a message to a hooded woman (our 1st view of Cirinists?). Astoria is known among the Cirinist circle as "she whose name is unspeakable." The pigeon came from Archbishop Vant who is seeking salvation by Cirin & Terim. As part of his plea for salvation, he is surgically rendered (presumably) a eunuch (his "offensive" part is burnt) (How/why would it come about that a member of the Church of Tarim was converted to Cirinism?).
Lenny: Circe is the Cirinst military commander. She is ordered to invade Iest because there is no/little hope Why? what does Cirin fear? Is this fear based on her reading of the ancient texts? Does she know that the trial will lead to an Ascension attempt?
Lenny: Cirin, possesses growth acceleration powers (which she uses on a flower). And. Cirin. Is. An. Aardvark.
Lenny: Wooo! What a 100th issue! When we learned that there were 2 other aardvarks - I was not thinking in terms of someone we'd heard of before - Cirin is an aardvark. Wow.
Lenny: "Ave Avid" What's this mean? (Clear road?)
Lenny: Astoria (still looking like an aardvark/Po) states that it's time for Cerebus to kill her. Cerebus can't kill anyone without his hat! There's a box by his hat - as he reaches for it things get weird again. Astoria senses that the pattern is breaking. ("something's..different"). ALSO - Something Fell. We flash back to the assasination of Harmony IV - and the 1st time we heard this term (is it also th elast time we heard it?). Singificantly (?), the image of Cerebus in flashback is done in traidtional comic book dot process - is Dave starting to break the 4th wall here by emphasizing that this is a comic book and that there are different levels of reality within the comic? (is this hte 1st/only time we see a dot-reproduction?).
Lenny: The box has a golden sphere and a message: "Good Luck - W." - So once again, Weisshaupt is helping Cerebus Final Ascend.
Lenny: Astoria is horrified by the prospect of Cerebus Final Ascending - consistent with her belief that when a man tries it, it will ned badly in death. HOWEVER - she's also surprised - if this really as unexpected, then why is Cirin invading? Is it for revenge for the pending death of Astoria (as Astoria claimed she would)? Perhaps Astoria hasn't read what Cirin has read - and it's not a surprise to Cirin?
Lenny: Cerebus, in a perfect Cerebus moment, just goes for it - no hesitation.
Lenny: Bran killed himself with a thousands years old ceremonial knife
Lenny: People are still not moving based on Pope Cerebus' last edict. A piece of glass appears in Bear's hand. Presumably from Cerebus' breaking through the window. Does this connote a connection between Bear & Cerebus that is not apparent?
Lenny: I'm a bit mixed up about where the city is in relation to the tower. Looking at i102p18-19, it looks like the city was INSIDE the tower. It seems the tower broke off, and it left the city revealed. Does this make sense? This is the upper city, right? Where Cerebus was hoarding the gold was between the upper and lower cities, right? Looking at the city - there's a big building on the left and what appears to be a church on the right.
Lenny: The tower is revolving as it shoots up towards the moon.
Lenny: Apparently the revolving tower has created gravity so Cerebus can walk within the hollow Tower (although in the letters page around issue 106, Dave is taken to task about the physics involved in allowing the Weisshaupt head to fall on Cerebus - he doesn't really respond).
Lenny: Weisshaupts face is seen in varying sizes. Cerebus stubs that infamous left foot on it, and then it plunks on his toe.
Lenny: Flaming Carrot, by Bob Burden. Cerebus has 230,000 miles to go (is that the distance from earth to the moon? Doesn't sound right - if not, what is it?) Flaming Carrot's references to George-away are an allusion to Weisshaupt being a George Washington figure (or as some conspiracy fans note, a replacement of the real George Washington). At the top of the Tower, Cerebus sees the moon.
Lenny: On the top of the tower, Cerebus sees the trinity figure of Fred, Ethel & the little artist guy.
Lenny: The circumference of the top of the tower is shrinking. The Trinity feels it is superior to Cerebus as a messiah figure to meet Tarim/Terim because they represent both genders (little do they know that so does Cerebus!).
Lenny: According to the Trinity, the Messiah will meet the Creator (foreshadowing of the end of the series? or the end of Mothers and Daughters?).
Lenny: The Trinity doesn't want to kill Cerebus itself - as that would cause repercussions.
Lenny: Fred/Swamp Thing's facial expressions are hilarious! The Tower top snaps off, leaving Cerebus, without a gold sphere, on the top again just in time to get to the moon.
Lenny: The Judge, who is based on a Jules Feiffer character, observes and judges from the moon. The Judge & Cerebus are walking above the surface of the moon (about 6 inches above). The Judge was rooting for Weisshaupt who would appreciate man's first words: "Give Me" (seems Cerebus would appreciate that too).
Lenny: According to the Judge:
- Multiple civilations have been wiped out in the past, including intelligent Redwood trees. The primary cause, apparently, is the giant flood that comes every 12,000 years.
- Religious leaders, especially after the Floods, preach the message: Don't have fun.
- Cerebus will not conquer the world.
- The Trinity burned up in earth's atmosphere - a fitting end to someone who would try to merge males and females.
Lenny: Po I was a military leader of the Sepran Empire, located in the NW part of estarcion. He believed in building armies through Natural Selection. He died when he overshot his horse while trying to mount it.
Lenny: Po I's son Alfred became Po II. Clovis IX was the last of the inbred popes of the Eastern Church - he closed the Upper city to start the Exodus Inward. Is this what ended at the end of High Society? So how long does that make the Exodus?
Lenny: The Pigts built their underground city after the "sudden and relatively untimely demise of the Black Tower Empire." Do we know anything about the Black Tower empire? Will Dave ever tell us?
Lenny: The Salt Flats of Serrea were created when Smart Punk Redwoods detonated a salt bomb. Is this all silliness? Or is there meaning to be derived here?
Lenny: Although the Judge can speak - Cerebus finds that the moon is airless. Before the Big Bang, there was the Void - which was Tarim.
Lenny: Terim is the sudden light that developed in the Void/Tarim. When they combined, energy/heat was created. This interaction caused Terim to crease and split. Terim's reaction: "I forgive you. You know not what you do." - An allusion to Jesus' alleged last words before he is put to death by the Romans.
Lenny: "Marvel & Decease" (Marvel & DC's). (someone on the letter page said we should have also gotten "First, an Eclipse" (2 now-defunct comix companies))
Lenny: According to the Judge, the stars are what is left of Terim. Tarim/void sees them as an infinite number of hells searing him. Tarim had done an enormous wrong- yet he was angry ("Nice girls don't explode"). He then went into denial - blaming the victim and then trying to hide his crime. Eventually he accepts what he did. But Terim is coming back as per a modern day theory - so Tarim is plotting revenge.
Lenny: The event of Cerebus take place approximately 6000 years in our past. Why do you wrap a hamster in electric tape? (huh? can anyone explain?)
Lenny: So the creation of the universe - the Big Bang - is seen as...what? A rape? How so? From what we're told - Tarim's actions towards Terim were purely accidental. I'm not big on my cosmology - does anyone want to leap in here?
Lenny: The Moon is the corpse of Terim (huh? I thought that corpse was spread out across the universe as stars?). The moon landings desecrated her corpse.
Lenny: Life on earth (& pretty much the solar system) is wiped out when the US develops a weapon that causes disturbances in the sun and, ultimately, blows it up).
Lenny: Cerebus must accept suffering & be redeemed by it (as Dostoyevsky would recommend). When the world did not end as Pope Cerebus stated, Cerebus lost all of his followers. Cirin has conquered all of Lower Felda and Iest.
Lenny: Cerebus will die in a few years, alone, unmourned, and unloved. He'll sufffer. And all this is justified by what he did in his second marriage.
Lenny: The Glowing Sphere makes an appearance. (why?) The Tower dissolves (I think it does, it's kinda hard to tell from the art) and Cerebus is back on earth alone in the ruins near his Papal house- in the sites of the canons.