Saturday, January 13, 2018

Bleaching Cerebus

One of the things that occurs when you read multiple comics at a time, and obsess over certain series, you begin to notice certain similarities between them that would be considered glaringly obvious if anyone noticed.  The problem comes when the problematic fandoms that could understand such revelations are miles apart, leaving any possibility of crossover as being obtuse in-jokes at best.

One of the worst things of indulging in obscure cult hits is getting heavily invested in headcannons  that the rest of the world is largely ignorant about, being totally obsessed with whatever popular media outlet is currently happening.  I had no one to share my viewpoints with (at least not online), without potentially alienating anyone about just what I found so compelling, and going into comprehensive backlog of exposition which is not my forte.

Despite the fact that there’s very little cross-over appeal, I noticed certain similarities between Cerebus and Bleach:
  • Both series started out rough but strong, then lost their appeal around the 2/3 mark.
  • Both series had their chapter titles displayed in innovative ways (particularly during Church & State).
  • Both series were in Black & White, and written by an author with Misogynist qualities.

Okay, so there's not that much similarity, but once I got started, I couldn't stop, especially since I was underwhelmed at the lackluster Bleach arc, and started thinking up ways it could be made more interesting.

Of course, given the sheer intimidation factor that is Cerebus, only a handful of people who'd get all the references would understand what the hell I was talking about.  There's no other medium that Cerebus is capable of working in, and adapting the Magnum Opus is an exercise in madness.  Though, if one were to theoretically try, it would be to combine the first and 2nd books at the same time.  Have the events of High Society be offset with flashbacks to Cerebus' time as a Barbarian Mercenary.

I started getting invested in Cerebus around the same time that Bleach was winding down.  Both long-running series are beloved more for their first two-thirds rather than their last third which for the latter, many felt spoiled the series’ reputation as a whole.

Around that time, Captain Aizen was involved with a convoluted plan to breach the gates of Heaven (or what counts as the higher plane ruling Soul Society)  In a similar way, Cerebus was described as being three failed attempts to approach Heaven.  So it didn’t take much imagination to imagine what the ensuing conflict of Cerebus and Aizen would’ve been like, since they were so wonderfully unorthodox, since the majority of Bleach’s Bankais were more or less an impressive show of power one-upmanship.

On the other side of the spectrum, Cerebus was extremely influential, but almost forgotten.  Though the Telephone book collections' relevance is starting to gain some recognition in light of a certain American politician who shall remain nameless (ol’ whatsisname)

The fanfic I had in mind was where Aizen would've finally breached the gates of Heaven... only to find out that their gatekeeper is apathetic, greedy, immoral, and just plain confounding.

Aizen makes his way down the sparsely illuminated corridor that reveals its intricate details whenever anybody bothers to show the impressive backgrounds, until he comes across the bodyguard standing in his way: an anthropomorphic humanoid Aardvark that looks nothing like its species leaning his chair against the wall at an angle with a half-asleep expression.

"Halt.  Who goes there." is spoken not in a questioning manner, but a matter-of-fact tone of voice, by someone clearly bored with his job.

"I've come to assassinate your master of this place."

"Oh, well then.  Give me a copper coin, and I'll let you pass."

Aizen was expecting resistance, but not outright betrayal.

"Cerebus would ask for a Gold piece, but Gold has no value up here.  Neither does copper for that matter, come to think of it.  Hell, just give Cerebus the contents of your wallet, and Cerebus will be satisfied."

Aizen isn't sure what to make of this bizarre creature.  Is this a ruse to make him drop his guard at a moment of weakness?  No loyal soldier would willingly let an enemy run amok in this place, and yet, this Barbarian Pig shows great ability, but no willingness to act upon it.  Aizen decides to use his legendary hypnosis skills to pass a stone for a piece of coinage, but is summarily interrupted.

"No trickery."  Without even turning his head towards Aizen's direction, he was intuitively able to discern that Aizen was about to do something underhanded.

"You're not dealing with your typical Security Guard here.  You're dealing with an overqualified Kitchen-Staff Supervisor."

Aizen was understandably confused.  "What's a cook doing outside the kitchen?"

"I'm not a cook.  I'm a supervisor.  And it's just a fancy title placeholder until they can find something better suited for me.  Cerebus is just holding the job until something better comes along."
Cerebus started telling of the intricate politics and designs of being a Kitchen-Staff Supervisor.  His explanations went on and on, lasting minutes that turned into hours, yet Aizen couldn’t tear himself away from the increasingly redundant exposition.  More maddening, the amount of verbage assaulting him was being force-fed at a rate that was beyond his ability to cope.  This excessive infodump took an inordinate amount of time that paradoxically, could also be skimmed over in a matter of seconds and still have the same result.  And yet, when Cerebus was finally finished, Aizen was surprisingly able to immediately recall every single word that had been uttered and comprehend it.

As Aizen was still reeling from the lengthy speech, a single denouement was given:

“Cerebus prefers not to talk too much.”

After some meandering dialogue, Aizen manages to bypass Cerebus by just walking past where he's lazily sitting.  "You're going to regret not getting any further directions that way."

Before long, Aizen comes across a bizarre Cockroach Man carrying a sword who calls himself Roachi Yojimbo, who goes into an extra-long romantic soliloquy.  Aizen already having undergone more exposition than necessary quickly makes short work of him.  Then, not long after, the RoachMan shows up yet again.

"Didn’t I just kill you?"

"You must be thinking of someone else.  I’m the Ninja, Roacho, possessed by a 9-winged Demon Cockroach as a child, who - ”

Aizen slashes him and moves on.  The same RoachMan shows up in front of him, having changed form yet again.

"You thought you struck me down, but it was me, Roachjo!” the figure ahead says, striking an anatomically impossible Gay stance.

The Roach keeps changing forms, sometimes before Aizen even swings his sword, running the gamut of multiple Manga parodies, such as Roach-Sensei, Robo-Roach, Lone Roach & Cricket, Fist of the Roach Star and in a moment of desperation, Chibi-Loli-Moe-Roach.

Eventually, Aizen gets the hint, and just ignores the living parody, leaving him in a state of perpetual transmutation... only to get caught by an Albino who won't shut up.

After getting away from those two, Aizen runs into Cerebus again, in another section, despite not having shifted positions since the last time he saw him.

"Neither of them were even carrying a weapon!!  And the Cockroach one only had two forms that properly had swords!"

"Don't take it too badly.  For some reason, Cerebus is more than capable of handling smart opponents, but is utterly weak against totally oblivious idiots.  If you figure out how to make him shut up, let Cerebus know."

"This isn't going exactly how I imagined it'd go down."

"Cerebus sympathizes.  Cerebus' role as Kitchen Staff Supervisor is how things are handled around here.  As long as nothing has any definite meaning, anything can be anything that Lord Julius decrees it to be, and nothing can be said otherwise.  This is why Cerebus doesn't bother guarding Lord Julius.  He's more than capable of handling himself."

"Alright, here's thirty pieces of Gold."

"He's behind this door," Cerebus says, stepping out of the inconspicuous door he was standing in front of.

"It doesn't look like the kind of room a ruler of Soul Society would hide behind."

"Cerebus would do it himself, but Cerebus can’t be bothered to do it.”

As Aizen steps in, Cerebus has one last thing to say:

“A word of advice - don’t bother with semantics - just go in and do the job.”

“Say, you’re not the usual cleaning service!  If you see them, could you tip them for me?”

“Clever remarks won’t save you.”  Aizen said, slashing a killing blow.

“Well now, that’s not very polite!  ”

Aizen looks at his sword, and the shredded bedsheets, and wonders how this nonthreatening mustachoid greasepaint man could’ve possible dodged his killing blows without much effort.

“Really now.  I feel like we’ve gotten off on the wrong foot.  I’m Lord Julius, Lord of all I survey.”

“Surely you can’t be serious.”

“I am!  It’s customary to introduce yourself before announcing your intent to kill me, especially if you haven’t made an appointment.  And don’t call me Shirley.”

“Well, who am I speaking to then?  The Hole in the Eye?  The Rabbit in the Pyramid?”

“The who?  The What??  Don’t try to bandy me around!”

“I never would.  But I’d like to have my gravestone immortalized by how bravely I was taken down by... was it Amber the Fatigable?”

“Fatigable isn’t a word.”

"Around these parts, anything I say can be.  But that's fine. I'm sure such a fearless assassin such as you wouldn't be bothered about others knowing who struck me down so easily.  It'd ruin your stainless reputation.  Can I put you down as Snively the Cowardly?"

"If you must know, it's Sousuke Aizen who - "

At that very moment, Aizen suddenly finds himself whisked out of Lord Julius' room against his will.  He tries to get back in, but finds himself unable to do so.

"I warned you, didn't I?  You triggered the security code," Cerebus says, pointing to a sign outside the door:

What is it that you use, yet others use it more than you do?

"Cerebus is incapable of getting in, despite Cerebus saying Cerebus' name all the time."

"Could you stop saying Cerebus?"

"Cerebus could, but since Cerebus is just a lowly Kitchen Staff Supervisor, and not Prime Minister or Pope, Cerebus doesn't want to."

"How could YOU become Prime Minister AND Pope?!  You're a cross between Link and Ganon!"

"Don't underestimate me.  Others have lived to regret it."

"I simply can't accept that this comedian is the ruler of Soul Society!"

"Oooooohhhhhhh.  You want to meet your Maker.  Well, that can be easily arranged."

Upon hearing this, Aizen tries to intercept, but the same symptom that made him glued to his spot took effect as Cerebus took his sword out and activated his Bankai:


ALGO CAYÓ. (Something Fell)

After these words were uttered, the platform Aizen was standing on started rising into the sky, a path appearing in the ceiling directly above him.

"By the way, if you happen to see 'Dave', punch him in the nose for me."  Then, after a quick moment of introspection, Cerebus hurriedly said, "Don't tell him I said that."

The effect of Cerebus' Bankai was to create a huge metallic gold sphere that would raise the intended victim's consciousness higher and higher until they'd meet their maker.  In this case, Aizen would meet Tite Kubo, and be appalled to find out that he was basically just winging everything.

"What do you mean you never intended to make me as badass as I already am?!"

"I figured I might as well bring you back from the dead, no big deal."
"I have clear memories of my elaborate plan!  You can't take credit for controlling my every action!    I distinctly recall skillfully manipulating all of Soul Society for years to arrive at this very moment of triumph!"

"I'll admit that your popularity among the fans have certainly surprised me.  I'm constantly trying to make you as reprehensible and unlikable as possible, and they only clamor for more."

"You can't possibly be manipulating my every action!  I am steadily getting more powerful with every single second, and have set up multiple backup plans in case one of my most trusted advisors (Gin) backstabs me."

"Don't get too full of yourself.  Gin's an obvious betrayer.  I'll just have Ichigo Kurosaki do some kind of elaborate powerup to beat you.  That's generally how all these types of stories end.  I just haven't figured out how yet."
"If you want your mind further blown, I'm not even the REAL Tite Kubo.  I'm the personification of an author's idea of what Tite Kubo might be like."


"I am not even here.  Goodnight."

This kind of self-referential breaking the 4th wall would be reminiscent of the end of Grant Morrison's run of Animal Man, or to a lesser extent, Satoshi Kon's Opus.  Sadly, my motivation to continue beyond this point fails here, because ultimately, neither of these characters are really mine, and I can't get into their heads, despite the amount of screentime I've seen them in action.

"Being beaten by Ichigo Kurosaki doesn't sound so bad now, does it?"

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