|June 1980: Champion|
|Writer & Artist||Dave Sim|
Having left Palnu three weeks ago with eight bags of gold and a horse, Cerebus loses the horse to a broken foreleg. He has to drag the gold through a thunderstorm. He finds a cottage in Parmoc and buys it so that he'll have shelter.
Once ensconced in the cottage, Cerebus gets visitors. The T'Gitans are looking for headquarters for their invasion force. The leader of the army, Gudre, lays out his plan to conquer Palnu. Before they can take Palnu, though, they must take Fluroc, which means defeating the legendary Commander Krull. Cerebus, with his "near-encyclopedic knowledge" of the city-state, thinks he can help, so he joins their cause.
When Gudre returns to his army, he finds that Krull has made no preparations to defend Fluroc. Indeed, nothing has gone in or out except for two priests. Cerebus believes that the priests are Krull and his assistant, who are heading towards the Onliu border to divert some troops from there to Fluroc. They are willing to let the T'Gitans take the city because they can retake it when they return.
Cerebus finds Krull dictating to Grimes, his biographer, while they walk in the woods. Pretending to be another priest, Cerebus challenges them and forces them to perform penance, which involves kneeling in prayer (for Krull) and hitting someone over the head with a rock (for Grimes). Cerebus makes Grimes "supervisor of prisoners of war" as he hangs the unconscious Krull over his horse.
Meanwhile, in Palnu, Lord Julius learns that the T'Gitans have taken Fluroc. He tells the messenger that he is prepared to buy off these "barbarians."
- Cerebus (last seen in issue 16; next appearance in issue 18)
- Gudre (first appearance; next appearance in issue 18)
- Krull (only appearance)
- Grimes (only appearance), Krull's biographer
- Lord Julius (last seen in issue 16; next appearance in issue 18)
- Stromm (only appearance)
"It would certainly have been easier for [Cerebus] to travel without the eight bags of gold, and considering he could have lived like a prince for months with only half a bag, one can certainly see karma at work in the opening sequence. This was not the first time this has happened (though I noticed I didn't mention it in the narrative). Cerebus has treasure troves of gold buried all over Estarcion, under floor boards in abandoned tree stumps, etc. etc. left behind when he got tired of transporting them. Usually, as in this story, it was the lure of some new adventure that caused him to abandon what he had (though you can count on the fact that it wouldn't keep from complaining about being broke once lured away)." (Introduction to this issue in Swords of Cerebus, volume 5). In the letters page to Issue 42, Dave says that the gold is "still buried under the floorboards of the farmhouse Cerebus bought."
"The Commander Krull character was, on the one hand, my version of Conan the King. He was also patterned on Colonel Flagg from M*A*S*H. [... He is] the first of my characters to be living his own autobiography. [...] I have come to think that most 'heroes' are primarily 'legends in their own minds'. That is to say, while they protest endlessly that they're just doing their jobs and that any grand motivations ascribed to them are strictly the problem of certain individuals who don't know them very well, most of them actually keep careful track of their 'image' on a day-to-day basis, basing their decisions, at least in part, on how it will appear in the 'Legend of Me, Book Seven.' These individuals can usually be picked out in a crowd by the presence of their 'official biographer.' This is a chap who usually doesn't get much attention until the hero is dead, at which time everyone, (somewhat naively) decides that he holds some degree of 'truth' about the deceased. In the case of the Moon Roach, the official biographer is a disassociated personality, and consequently rather more difficult to control (rather like William Manchester traveling around inside Robert Kennedy's head, privy to too many UN-heroic thoughts and impulses). In the case of Krull, the biographer Grimes is really little more than a stenographer. Anyone who thinks that this is a radical rather than a minor caricaturing of the official biographer's role should read a few official biographies and compare them with a few unofficial ones." (Swords of Cerebus, volume 5, Introduction to issue 17.)
In this introduction, Sim describes his habit of watching old sitcoms and admiring the second-string characters as better actors than the stars. The character of Gudre, for instance, is based on Sergeant Schultz of Hogan's Heroes. The T'Gitan language is represented in Cerebus with a German accent, which fits in neatly with this allusion.
- It isn't until this issue that we see the relative value of gold in Estarcion.
- T'Gitans apparently speak with a German accent.
- (page 1) "Abysmal" is misspelled.
- (page 6) Cerebus can't find a flaw in Gudre's plan; that doesn't mean there is no flaw.
- (page 14) Krull's story of being crucified in the desert and biting the neck out of a camel is a reference to Robert E. Howard's "A Witch Shall Be Born," in which Conan the Barbarian is crucified in the desert and bites the neck out of a vulture to survive.
- (page 15) Cerebus is probably making up the "sacred greeting of the Grauzwerg."
- (page 19) A broadloom is a type of carpet; that's not a typo for "boardroom."
- (page 20) "Massing in Akshun" is a bad pun on "Missing in Action." It's possible that the place name was created just for the purpose of this pun.
- (page 20) "Of course they realize this means WAH!!" is a reference to the movie Duck Soup, where Groucho Marx's character says "Of course you know, this means war!" The line was later reused often by Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Also, the messenger bears a resemblance to Zeppo Marx.
- (page 20) Lord Julius breaks the fourth wall at the end of this issue; it is rather uncommon for any character but the Roach to do so.