Yes, it's that time again. With another issue of Manx Cat in my hands, I'm passing the time, seeing what we can learn about Grimjack (John Gaunt) and his world from these issues, since, in theory, they're barely scratching the considerable backstory that already exists.
Page 1 - We've already seen that Gaunt likes to be prepared, as he carries swords, guns, smoke grenades, and grappling hooks. Apparently he's not the only one, because Darlin's Lil keeps a sword by her bed. She also may have some non-human side, because her eyes are yellow, her teeth are longer and pointy, and she's not doing much but hissing.
Page 2 - The shadows with faces are all around Lil, and Gaunt wonders whether she's possessedm which suggests he's encountered that before. He also says someone in the grip of night terrors can kill, suggesting he has experience with that, too. Two callbacks to issue 2. First, Gaunt says he doesn't want to kill her if he can avoid it, much the same way he didn't bother to kill all the repo men when they crossed paths. Two, his left eye has done that thing where it goes totally black except for the pupil, which is blue (see my comments on Page 13 from last month's issue). The right eye still looks normal. Perhaps it's something Gaunt does when he's being serious?
Page 3 - Gaunt's not willing to die to protect the Cat, seeing as he used it to block a sword. He also looks winded after he does it, which might be referencing BlacJac's frequent comments about how Gaunt's getting old.
Page 4 - It appears using the Cat was part of a plan, since Gaunt's unsurprised by what happens to Lil. He's slightly more surprised that the Cat heals itself. Lil's smart enough to know when something's bad news, since she's now OK with Gaunt taking the Cat. Once again Gaunt senses things, this time about either the Cat, or the whole situation in general, but his instinct is to not get involved.
Page 5 - Gaunt thinks the Cat's more than just some rare collectible. But when he starts wondering why he shouldn't just keep it, he calls the Cat a 'nasty lil' bastard'. So perhaps Gaunt's not much of a hobbyist, or he has enough experience with "artifacts" to know when they're messing with him?
Page 6 - Gaunt has not changed his mind about wanting the Gatorlizard gone. He and Gordon don't have a cordial relationship. Gaunt won't answer Gordon's questions, and Gordon didn't get rid of the Gatorlizard.
Page 7 - It's Jean Loire, the Tourbot user from last time. Gaunt can be friendly enough to offer potential clients a drink. A drink of what, I'm not sure. Something strong, since Jean declines, stating that hard drinks give her vapors. Hard to tell whether Gaunt disapproves of blackmailing or not.
Page 8 - OK, the Cat is making Bob the Gatorlizard dream. It seems Gaunt doesn't like blackmailers, because he rejects Jean's offer. Not interested in Jean's other offer either. And Jean's a shapeshifter, so add that to the list of things you find in Cynosure (along with clones, talking animals, and robots).
Page 9 - Now the Cat's making Gordon see his deceased wife, Jo Chaney, mentioned on Page 3 last issue. Gaunt's still not interested in Jean, actually creeped out. OK, Munden's Bar seems to serve a wide array of drinks. Jean was drinking something, possibly wine, but not strong, considering the earlier comment, out of a reasonably nice glass. Gaunt's drinking something with a first word that ends in "ld", and a second word that ends in "iss", straight from the bottle. Gaunt doesn't think it was bright of Jean to pull a gun on him.
Page 10 - GrimJack deals with that threat in two panels. Again, opts not to kill the threat. Curious, considering he knows Jean can alter her (his?) appearance, which would make Jean harder to guard against.
Page 11 - Gaunt feeling itchy = the Cat acting up. Gaunt won't say where he plans to hide the Cat now, but both Gordon and Bob look rather depressed that he's taking it. Odd, considering Darlin' Lil seemed pleased to be rid of it. It hadn't started controlling them yet, though. And Bob's gonna follow Gaunt. Less afraid of him? Less trusting of his judgment? Concerned for him? Needs what the Cat's offering that much worse than Gordon?
Page 12 - There are places deeper in the Pit (which Gaunt mentioned is where he grew up last issue), than Munden's. OK, Gaunt's definitely aware of what the Cat's doing to people. Whether that's simple powers of observation, or some deeper sense is still uncertain. Gaunt's pupil has the same triangle slice of obsidian in it the Cat's do, and then demons attack.
Page 13 - OK, last issue mentioned Demon Wars, and based on GrimJack's comments as he starts immediately beheading them, demon was not a metaphor for something. The war was 20 years ago, the demons were driven out, and the "gates" were closed.
Page 14 - OK, the Cat can control others' actions, make people dream of happy things, and make them see their worst nightmares. Did it give Gaunt's nightmares solid form, or was he just hallucinating? Gaunt promises to find a way to hurt the Cat if it doesn't stay out of his head. Bob not frightened off by Gaunt swinging his sword wildly for awhile.
Page 15 - In Cynosure, people can use mechanical insects they control remotely to gather information. Gatorlizards eat insects.
Page 16 - Is the bug controlled mentally? It's being eaten seems to hurt Jean. Gatorlizards don't like the taste of mechanical insects. Unlike in issue 2, Gaunt is unaware that he's being followed. When in doubt, he turns to BlacJacMac to watch it. Gives him a little more explanation than he did Gordon. More concerned about BlacJac?
Page 17 - BlacJac's initially unimpressed, keeps cracking jokes about Gaunt getting old, but when gaunt remains serious, BlacJac sobers up a bit. Still, he doesn't sense anything odd about the cat, so he may not have the same senses Jack does. Or he's too tired, since he's in a bathrobe, and may have been woken up by Gaunt. It's been true throughout this issue, but I'll mention it here. There must be a lot of grates and vents in the street, because there seems to be steam rising up from the ground no matter where Gaunt goes.
Page 18 - Gaunt's gone looking for Goethe (the middleman who hired to Gaunt to retrieve the Cat in the first place), and knows where to find him when he's not at work. Cynosure has bars for sentient humanoid animal types to get together and get their freak on. Gaunt says it's not his taste, but he doesn't judge. No clues as to what his 'private perv' is.
Page 19 - I think everything that needs be said I already mentioned for the previous page, so let's move on.
Page 20 - Gaunt prefers rotgut to absinthe. Gaunt is pretty good at talking while keeping a cigarette in his mouth. Doesn't mince words when he wants to talk.
Page 21 - Goethe is part owner of the place they're in, and Gaunt doesn't care. Gaunt knows he wasn't given all the facts about the Cat, and Goethe pretty much confirms it. When Gaunt says others have shown up bidding for it, Goethe's first guess is Jean Loire.
Page 22 - I'm not sure how to interpret this page. Gaunt says he knows it has a connection with the Chaotic Gods (which is what Goddess warned him of last issue), and knows that makes it dangerous. Yet he's willing to take the risk of what could happen if it awakens to meet the ones he's working for. So is he just that unconcerned with what the Cat can do, or is it because he's concerned, that he wants to make certain he's giving it to the right people? At any rate, they're off to see the Sleepless Monks. The last panel shows what appears to be an industrial area at either sunset or dawn.
Page 23 - Not entirely sure what the industrial area was about, as we shift to night (with five worlds visible in the sky) in a area full of building with tall, narrow towers. The largest building, dead center of the page, looks to be carved directly from some existing rock formation, or maybe a ridiculously large tree. Gaunt has never heard of Sleepless Monks. There are anti-grav vehicles, because Goethe has a 'ancient' one. Is that because it's old technology mostly lost in the present, or is Goethe just cheap? In Cynosure, there is such a thing as a Kucinich Ring, which makes things appear inconsequential, rather than invisible. This impresses Gaunt. Grimjack can be a smart ass. When told what he must do out of respect for the Monks' beliefs (cover hair and mouth), he responds 'What respect?' But after Goethe points out that this is the Monks turf, and Gaunt doesn't know what he deals with, Gaunt responds 'Fair enough', and follows instructions.
Page 24 - Leader of the Sleepless Monks is Fra Jess. I think its design is based on the Caterpillar from Alive in Wonderland. Fra Jess sits on a giant mushroom (toadstool?), wears robes, has hands, but also what appear to be multiple little legs.
Page 25 - OK, another mention of a multiverse, this time with the additional comment that the Cat being on the loose moves said multiverse closer to chaos. Gaunt doesn't like it when people discuss him like he isn't there, and he is a rude man. The Monks are the Cat's Keepers, not it's owners, as Gaunt figured.
Page 26 - Fra Jess has a hover toadstool. Cool. Manx Cat is a doorway to the Chaotic Gods. Dangerous to sentients and to the fabric of reality. Well, yeah, if it endangers the fabric of reality, I imagine it's dangerous to sentient beings. Hmm, when Fra Jess says to summon all brethren to the Great Hall, Gaunt's first instinct is they're going to attack him. Says something about his life, that he assumes people will resolve their issues with him through violence.
Page 27 - The statuette called the Manx Cat is the result of the entity being confined in a single time and place. The reason the monks are supposed to be sleepless is that the Cat can escape through their dreams, so they can't sleep. Except some do. So if you were wondering who took the Cat from the Monks originally, the answer is "the Manx Cat itself". Gaunt's not buying that, so some things stretch his limits of believability.
Page 28 - There is a Chant of Transit, which can send one's essence through time. Songs have power, and Gaunt can sense that. He may also be able to sense whether there's the power to harm in the song, but if so, he hasn't honed that sense as much. Or perhaps he's just paranoid.
That's it for this month. Come back next month when the Essence of GrimJack enters the past and finds St. John of Knives!