|March 1981: This Woman, This Thing|
|Writer & Artist||Dave Sim|
Cerebus's wounded leg has finally healed. He wants to recover the gold he hid in Fluroc (see issue 17), but he also wants to see Professor Charles X. Claremont put his new Apocalypse Beast, named Woman-Thing, into action. Claremont explains that there is a longstanding formula, "All who know <blank> shall burn at the touch of the beast," and the sorcerer who creates the beast fills in the blank. Past beasts had the words nothing and me, among many others. Claremont has decided on the word fear.
They reach a castle, which Claremont decides to make his headquarters. The only occupant is an artist, who shows no fear of Woman-Thing at all--in fact, he admires the workmanship and offers to buy her. He shows them his work. In one painting, the Artist used a model, "my twelve-foot green art object," which he calls Filbert. Claremont identifies it as the original Apocalypse Beast, created by Lord Roth-Sump centuries ago.
Ecstatic over the possibility of having two beasts under his control, Claremont dashes upstairs to animate the other ... and activates a trap left by Roth-Sump. Cerebus must defeat a stone figure before it touches Claremont or the castle is doomed. A few brisk swings with a metal stand take care of it.
Claremont easily takes control of the beast, Sump Thing. He gloats over his achievements and his imminent reign of terror. The two beasts have other concerns. They pummel each other and fall over a ledge--with Claremont trapped between them. The Artist begins to sketch them, until Cerebus points out that the "battling" was obviously foreplay. Grief stricken, the Artist offers Cerebus all the loot he can carry. Cerebus, with crocodile tears in his eyes, accepts.
- Cerebus (last seen in issue 24; next appearance in issue 26)
- Charles X. Claremont (last seen in issue 23; next appearance in issue 56)
- Artist (first appearance; next appearance in issue 37)
- Sump Thing (first appearance; next appearance in issue 82 as part of Fred, Ethel and the Little Chap)
- Woman Thing (last seen in issue 24; next appearance in issue 82 as part of Fred, Ethel and the Little Chap)
- Prince Gisse, mentioned only
If Dave has something to say on the issue, add it here
- The title is probably a reference to that of Fantastic Four issue 51: "This Man ... This Monster!" It makes even more sense when one notices that the "monster" referred to in the issue is the Thing.
- Woman-Thing is an allusion to Marvel's Man-Thing character. The catch phrase of the Man-Thing comic book was "Whosoever knows fear burns at the Man-Thing's touch!" Similarly, Sump Thing is an allusion to DC's Swamp Thing. Although very similar in concept and appearance, the two characters were created independently and at about the same time.
- Roth-Sump may be a phonetic pun on "Wrightson", the artist who created Swamp Thing, although certainly the Sump/Swamp pun is deliberate.
- It becomes fairly obvious with this issue that Cerebus is becoming a backup character in his own comic book. Professor Claremont and the Apocalypse Beasts are the center of attention, with Cerebus along as an observer. In the next issue (which begins the High Society phonebook), he regains the spotlight, only to become a pawn in the plots around him.
- (page 1) Last issue Claremont told Cerebus that his leg would take another week to heal. At the beginning of this issue his leg is healed. Assuming Claremont would have no reason to delay his "mission of revenge," one must assume that the injury healed very quickly, that Claremont was lying, or that Sim simply overlooked that detail.
- (page 1) Claremont assures Cerebus that his three students (see the last two issues) will "remain in a state of suspended motion" and that they will remember only a long peaceful sleep. They are supplying Claremont with the psychic energy to control Woman-Thing. Claremont probably means "suspended animation."
- (pages 2, 3, 5, 14) Claremont calls Woman-Thing "precious." Apparently he feels some affection for the creature, since he is in a way her father.
- (page 5) According to Claremont, the Artist's castle is "a definite relic" of the Black Tower Empire. The stone faces that appear on pages 7-10 resemble those in other Black Tower buildings (for instance, Necross's castle in issue 13).
- (page 14) Cerebus says, "You know what Cerebus thinks?" Claremont neither knows nor cares. We never learn what Cerebus thought (although several possibilities should be obvious). Depending on your point of view, Sim is flouting convention, making a joke, cheating the reader, or some combination of these.
Fan art in Aardvark Comment--a sketch (Dick Glass) of the Cerebus portrait in "Mind Game I" (issue 20)