Cerebus 5 “The Idol” (originally untitled)
This issue is very important to the rest of the series. Cerebus has come to the Red Marches in the employ of a group of mercenaries. (And if I was looking at the map that was printed in many of the early Cerebus issues, I could tell you if the travels that Cerebus goes on from issue to issue here follow the map correctly, but I still have to find those single issues!)
In the non-stop downpour, Cerebus gets separated from the rest of the mercs and is found by a group of savages who seem to be led by Bran Mac Mufin. The Pigts, as they are called, claim to have toppled empires, but they appear to be whittled down to about 50 men with well-made but minimal in number swords.
It turns out that the “Pigt” refers to the earth pig idol that these savages worship, and whom Cerebus greatly resembles. Cerebus sneaks around the underground complex where these people live, and decides that he does not, in fact, want to become their god-king, and destroys the statue, which turns out to be pretty easy as it’s mainly clay.
We find out some interesting stuff, though, in this issue. There are prophesies, it seems, and Bran asks Cerebus if he is 26 years old. While Cerebus does not vocally confirm this, the fact that he’s so bothered by the idol shows us that the prophesy has hit too close for comfort.
We’re also bombarded with various names of groups of people in this world. Bran comes across as a paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of grandeur, but since Cerebus doesn’t have that frame of reference, he thinks Bran is “crazy as a Panrovian monk”. We also find that Cerebus heads to Iest at the end of the issue, and that city plays a major role later on. We also hear of the Dehrsion Monarchy and the Black Tower Empire, which are among the powerful people that Bran claims the Pigts have outmatched over the years.
And we get the amusing running gag that wet aardvark fur smells so bad even Cerebus can’t stand it, and there are various comparisons made about the stench, including “dead goat” and “burnt ceremonial skunks”.
Other than the odor gags, there isn’t much of the ha-ha funny throughout this issue (the names of the Pigts are amusing, but not lol). The appeal of the issue is seeing the idol of the aardvark and wondering why, in the end, Cerebus chooses not to utilize the Pigts to start his own army and conquer and pillage. In the end, it seems, the earth pig born can trust only himself.