Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Cerebus #24 (1981)

In this issue, the kids downstairs won't stop laughing loudly while Old Man Cerebus tries to sleep.

Only about thirty issues left containing "A Note from the Publisher" which I'll probably continue to ignore since they don't say anything I care about! This is an assumption based on Sim and Loubert's marriage ending in 1983 (the assumption that the note will only last around two more years and not the assumption that none of them will discuss anything I'm interested in. That's less assumption and more evidence-based research).

I did enjoy this bit from the "A Note from the Publisher" page though.

Dave Sim's Swords of Cerebus essay in this issue is a continuation from the last issue and continues on into the next issue. It ends at a dramatic place in a story he's telling about getting drunk with some dealers at a convention and one of them carrying around a loaded gun, leaving it on the dresser in the hotel room where they've landed at the end of the night to continue drinking. After the part of the story where Dave says, "Take the bullets out," the essay is left hanging to be concluded in the next issue. I suppose, due to the constraints of space, it had to be done. But imagine picking up this issue and having to wait two weeks to find out where the story goes. And then imagine, two weeks later, after you've mostly forgotten about the story, reading the continuation of the story from that point and thinking, "What the hell was happening with Sim and these guys?!"

I suppose all of that could have been avoided by simply buying the Swords of Cerebus volume this essay was in and reading it the way it was supposed to be read. But that's unrealistic! The reason these bi-weekly Cerebus issues exist is because the single issues, by 1989, were too hard to find and the Swords of Cerebus volumes were out of print, replaced by Sim's Cerebus phone books. I think I only have the first three Swords of Cerebus books because I purchased them so late that the phone books were already in print. But I managed to stumble on Swords of Cerebus first and picked them up, always having been curious about that aardvark (aardvard?) on the cover of all those comic books across the aisle from my precious Elfquest books down at Brian's Books in Santa Clara, California.

This issue is called "Swamp Sounds" and I hope that means Cerebus is going to have sex with some of the ladies at Madame Dufort's School for Horny Girls. Except I know that it means a Swamp Thing parody is in the works. Unless it's a Man-Thing parody. Does it matter?

The story begins with Cerebus sitting around playing card games and drinking whisky with the three young ladies at the school.

When I was in my early 20s, this was one of the funniest jokes I'd ever read in a comic book. I'm now 49 and, well, it still is.

Oh wait. I forgot the joke gets funnier.

Ah ha ha ha ha! What a scamp!

Cerebus and the girls have a discussion about heroism. Cerebus says it doesn't exist and prods them for examples of a true hero still living. Theresa tells a story they heard from Katrina's sister about their uncle. The story gives credit to Lord Julius for saving the Festival of Petunias, an act which, of course, was accomplished by Cerebus. But what's more interesting is that Katrina looks almost exactly like Jaka which means the sister who told the story was certainly Jaka. I'm not sure if Jaka brings up Katrina in any later stories, or if she's a character at all in "Jaka's Story." Seeing as how Lord Julius isn't really an "uncle" to any of them, it could be suggested that Katrina isn't really Jaka's sister. But, I mean, she looks just like her.

The second story was about Elrod and features this iconic re-imagining of Cerebus through Elrod's eyes.

Later that night, Cerebus realizes the "swamp sounds" are coming from inside the school. He investigates to find the girls in a trance around some magic table with Madame Dufort watching over them. But Dufort has removed the disguise and reveals himself to be the sorcerer, Charles X. Claremont! For the non-comic book initiated, he's a parody of Charles Xavier with the addition of the great X-men writer Chris Claremont's surname.

Charles decides to explicate the entire plot, revealing his machinations, plans, and goals while Cerebus sits patiently listening. The second most important part of the story is that a book of fables by the legendary Suenteus Po was actually a book of spells. One spell was to summon the Apocalypse Beast which is what Claremont has done (the most important part of the story!). He introduces it to Cerebus as Woman-Thing. Which spontaneously causes me to remember how Charles X. Claremont dies next issue. Ick.

Cerebus #24 Rating: B+. Apparently in my estimation, Dave Sim does better work when he's concentrating on the comic book parodies than when he's concentrating on obscure Clint Eastwood movies. Don't argue with me that The Beguiled which opened the year I was born and doesn't have as many horses and gunfights as you'd expect from an Eastwood movie isn't "obscure" just because you've seen it. Also, I don't want to get into an Internet argument where I might be wrong. So just shut up, okay?! But I bet we can agree that the Charles Xavier, School for Gifted Girls, and the Woman-Thing bits are way better than the whole beguiling thing from last issue, right?! Last issue would have been better if Cerebus had had sex with some human women. I would have been so grossed out by what that would have got started in my pants.

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