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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cerebus Vol. 12: Rick's Story

By Dave Sim & Gerhard

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanheim; Reprint edition (March 2002)

Softcover 247 pages

Finished 8/14/2017

Amazon Listing

     Collecting issues 220 to 231 of the Cerebus series’s denouement. Cerebus is still stuck in the bar, waiting for something to happen. Either to get kicked out, for his friends to come back, or to die. In this we are reintroduced to Rick, last seen a hundred issues ago. He is the former husband of Jaka, their marriage having broke up after it is revealed that she had a clandestine abortion.
    Rick is no longer the guileless and shiftless boy, angry at having to get a job. He is now middle aged, or at least in his late 30s. There is no discussion about what had been happening to Rick since then, though it is implied that he has just been drifting from one bar to another for years.
    While at the bar something happens to him. I’m not sure if he is having a genuine religious experience filled with portents and signs following, or if he’s having a stroke and/or nervous breakdown. Whatever it is, he has childishly cast himself as the epic hero and Cerebus is alternately the God or the Devil.
    His inevitable turning on Cerebus speaks much of the fanatic. When one looks elsewhere, in a book or person, for spiritual fulfillment, they will eventually become disappointed and then that fanaticism is turned against the former object of its adoration. Rick is that man, perpetually waiting for someone else to show him the light. And thus will always be disappointed.
There has been a lot of discussion on this book, much more than there should have been, on its importance in the series. I don’t understand why those who accept volume 6 Melmoth, but have problems with this book. The criticisms that the text portions of the book incomprehensible or impenetrable is nonsense.
As Rick begins his religious convergence, he shifts into a religious style of writing, faux biblical. Many archaic and exaggerated spelling are used in the script, which is more reminiscent of American colonial style than reformation-era English. And while they prose can be tedious, it is by no means incomprehensible. For those who find it so, you can easily skip over it, the visuals tell the story in that part just as well as the text.
I will say that the text portions are much less interesting than the rest of the book. Despite what he might want to believe, Sim is a better writing comic dialogue than he is at prose. His style is always thick, slow moving, with an excess of unimportant details. And that contrasts sharply against his amazing artwork and uniquely expressive balloon dialogue.
And perhaps this all becomes tedious to the author as well, as he makes his second appearance in the series in an effort to dislodge his creation from his comfy tavern. Dave explains that Cerebus’s struggle is a reflection of his own reluctance to leave a bar. Which is why Cerebus is having so much difficulty moving on, so to facilitate this he gives the one surefire thing that will get his ass off the barstool, the return of his true love, Jaka. Which is where the next volume picks up.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cerebus Vol 11: Guys

By Dave Sim & Gerhard

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanheim; 1 edition (October 1997)

Softcover 408 pages

Finished 8/10/2017

Amazon Listing

     Now collecting the issues 201-219 of the series. The main action of the story is over and we enter a decline in the character’s life where he wanders about as all of his dreams and ambitions have become dust. Cerebus, after mulling things over on Pluto, is placed in a bar on the Wall of Tsi (much mentioned, never seen before) where he spends...years apparently screwing around and hanging with his bar buddies.
    The Cirinist takeover is complete and men have been relegated as second class citizens. Government for the most part has been reduced to a series of local districts chiefly concerned with food and hearth maintenance. All work is done by women, leaving men with little to do. That is the interesting thing here, each district supplies a bar for men to frequent and supplies them with free booze and food. Unmarried men are free to stay there as long as they like and married men who stay in such a place for longer than three days automatically have their marriages annulled. They are free to waste their lives and die early from alcohol related illnesses. 

    Cerebus is allowed to live in one of these bars as long as he adheres to the official fiction that Cirin won the battle against the God Tarim and that she and her goddess are the one true religion. Cerebus complies by not speaking on the subject at all. And why should he? He has nothing, so politics do not interest him at all.
If you don’t mind reading Cerebus screwing around in a bar for 400 pages then this is the book for you. For anyone who has spent enough time hanging around in a single bar, long enough to get to know the other patrons, then the dialogue, the characters, the rowdiness, the drunken jokes, and the inebriated conversations all ring true. This feels like a real bar, a male oasis in a sea of cringing feminism. It also demonstrates that band always breaks up due to women. They cannot stay away, either looking for a cheap thrill, some affection from Daddy, or as some pathetic power play, men’s sanctuaries are constantly under assault.
Eventually all the men leave, either driven out by women or suckered into marrying them, thus being forced to remain home. Again for those who had a favorite dive, this is how it goes. One by one all the guys there stop showing up. Maybe they move away, get an early job so they can’t go out at night, or preferred to spend time with their wife and kids, but the party eventually goes dead. And that leaves our anti-hero alone to drink in misery. 

Cerebus begins a purely sexual relationship with a lonely woman, Joanne, who he had seen before in a vision given to him by Dave, the manifestation of the author in the series.  Like all relationships, it starts off fun and casual, but eventually morphs into the woman trying to take over and shape the man into what she thinks she wants, but also someone she will eventually get bored of. But Cerebus sidesteps the trap, by ironically being too self absorbed to fall for her manipulations.
This volume is rife with character cameos from famous (famous from the 90s) independant comic characters. We have two from Eddie Campbell, Bacchus the greek god of wine and debauchery, and Alec, a loud mouthed Scottsman- at least in here it is. This is coupled with a brief appearance of Too Much Coffee Man- here it's Too Much Coffee Liqueur man. Marty, a character based on Marty Feldman’s role in Young Frankenstein. Others are based on members of the Rolling Stones and Norman Mailer.
We also see the reappearance of Bear and Bo-Bah, old mercenary friends of Cerebus, whom he had hired as muscle when he was pope, and the reemergence of Rick, Jaka’s childish husband from a hundred issues previous. Their marked physical differences indicated the amount of time that has gone by, either in the bar during this volume or the Melmoth book. I’d say at least between ten and fifteen years. Cerebus looks the same because Aardvarks age differently. I believe, and I may be wrong, but he lives to around one hundred and fifty years old. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Cerebus Vol 10: Minds

By Dave Sim & Gerhard

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanheim; 2nd Printing edition (June 1996)

Softcover 286 pages

Finished 8/5/2017

Amazon Listing

               “You are the baker and your life is the bread.”
              Collecting issues 186-200 of the series, this volume is the fourth and last in the Mothers and Daughters arc. We are now two thirds of the way through the series and after this the pace will change considerably. The author has stated that this is the falling action of the series and the next 100 issues should be regarded as the denouement of the series.  
             The action takes place on a stroll around the solar system, and I found it interesting how the various celestial spheres (and the Van Allen belt) fit into the mythology  of this world. Most of the plot is absorbed by the entrance of the ultimate celestial being, the author himself, Dave.
             While meta and, some would say, silly, there is a precedent of authors meeting their creations in literature. Kurt Vonnegut meets Kilgore Trout at the end of Breakfast of Champions. Grant Morrison meets Animal Man at the end of his run on the series. Steve Gerber in Howard the Duck. Brian K. Vaughn in Ex Machina. And so on. So while not original, this part is well done. Dave claims to Cerebus that this is a religious experience on par with his own awakening after he was hospitalized for a LSD overdose. It was during this that he conceived the ideas, characters, and plot points which has unfolded over the last two hundred issues. 

If anything this book demonstrates (or re-demonstrates) Cerebus’s ignorance. In his argument with Cirin we see that he doesn’t understand the religion that he became high pontiff of, and claims to believe deeply in, as he constantly mixes it up with various bits and pieces of other religions. In his conversation with Dave all he cares about is claiming Jaka for his own. He gains revelations about Cirin, her movement, and the nature of Aardvarks, but he isn’t interested.  All the mysteries of his world were available and all he cares about was getting Jaka back.
In a sense he can’t be blamed, his dreams of conquest have been demonstrated to be absolutely unworkable and Cerebus finally accepts that. So his mind drifts to Jaka as it always does when his life fall apart. She is his safety net, his comfort animal, but he looks at her as the possession, not a person.  You just can’t take the barbarian out of the man. But it is not to be, no matter how Cerebus shifts the goals and changes parameters, their relationship will be end in disaster and misery. Which is just as well, both characters, Jaka and Cerebus, are equally vapid. There just is not much to either. 

I have to question what is Dave’s motivation in talking to his creation. Apart from wanting to be “meta”, I suspect the reason is the spur his character into a new direction in life. And for Cerebus to change, stubborn beast that he is, extraordinary methods are needed. He must be dragged to the ass end of the solar system, brutally stripped of all illusions, and abandoned in the barren wastes of Pluto for him to admit his faults and realize that he is a terrible person. 

It is an odd ending for the action of a story. The big revelation, the resolution of conflict between two opposite forces boils down to the author himself popping up and putting everything to right. One would expect some great death scene, but it ends with Cirin now completely uninterested in Cerebus and our anti-hero adrift with no direction beyond self-indulgence. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Cerebus Vol. 9: Reads

By Dave Sim & Gerhard

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanheim; Second Printing edition (January 1997)

Softcover 247 pages

Finished 8/2/2017

Amazon Listing

Collecting issues 175-186 of the series, it is the third volume in the Mothers and Daughters arc. This volume breaks down into three sections: the one everyone cares about, the confrontation between Cerebus, Astoria, Cirin, and Po; and the other two which many many people hated. But we're going to cover them anyway.
Of the four characters Po takes the center stage, explaining that his self-exile is due to the “magnifier” ability of the Aardvark mutation. Things happen around an aardvark that it has no control over. It is a celestial force of undirected change. But ultimately this change will come to nothing, as once the magnifier influence is removed, everything falls back into its natural pattern. Essentially the aardvark is a bubble in reality that the universe will eventually smooth out. Po then takes his bows and leaves, stating that the attempting to control another is useless and he would prefer to live quietly until he dies.
Astoria’s exit is done with style and taste. She alone listens to Po’s words and realizes that she cannot achieve the things that she wants and remain happy. Her and Cirin make are faced with the choice and both, representing their philosophies (described in Women)  choose opposite sides- as they do in all things. She chooses happiness and Cirin chooses power.

Before Astoria leaves she does give us the revelation that Cerebus is a hermaphrodite and that Cirin’s greatest fear is that he will impregnate himself and become the progenitor of a whole race of Aardvarks. This scares the feminist more than anything else, as she, the great advocate of motherhood, desires this spot in history. Her need to be the “great mother” overrides all other consideration, leading to her moral and political corruption.
Also making his last appearance is Elrod of Melvinbone, the lost scion of a dead race who talks like Foghorn Leghorn. Easily the most annoying character in the series, I welcomed his departure. As it turns out, he is a illusionary product of the chaos gems from issue two and only held together by a belief in himself. Once it’s revealed to him that he isn’t real, he disappears. Good riddance.
Thus we are left with the massive fight scene between the two unwavering polar opposites of Cerebus series. Cirin, who will not give up her political rhetoric or desires, and Cerebus who fights because that is what he does. He is the warrior and what is important to him is the struggle, not the why of it or how it will end, but the fight itself. He fights because without the struggle he has no definition. Thus a giant battle is inevitable. He had spotted an enemy, even if she is an enemy that he doesn’t understand or care about, therefore she must be destroyed.
The battle, taking most of the last half of the book, is long, extraordinarily bloody, untainted by dialogue, and beautifully illustrated. It is a joy to gaze upon and took me just as long sucking in the visuals and reading the prose. Epic by any definition, it ends spectacularly with another ascension, up to the heavens. But it won’t be the Judge they meet this time, that characters seems to have been merging with the Roach, causing split-personality and forty thousand eyes. It’s why I feel it’s a shame that many believe this volume to be the series’s jumping-the-shark moment (When we all know that distinction goes to volume 13 Going Home).
Author Dave Sim

The section which many claimed was boring is the “reads” story, which this volume is named for. The style used here is double column prose with a single illustration on the corresponding page. In the series, reads are heavily illustrated books, cheaply produced, and lurid in plot, popular among the masses. The protagonist here Victor Reis is a suddenly popular author, now faced with dealing with the politics of a big publisher. His wishes are crushed beneath the weight of the money offered and ultimately he crosses the line between being successful as an author and selling out as an artist.
His dreams of the Ascension reads, where he wants to ascend in his writing is put aside, his ideas of cutting down the illustration in reads- an unsubtle jab at what the author is doing in this section. All the protagonist's desires are shoved aside and he becomes a parody of himself, churning out faded shadows of his past work.
For some reason these sections garnered a lot of vitriol from longtime fans. I’m not sure why, in reality it wasn’t much different from the style he used in Jaka’s Story, only with more text. One fan said to me, “If I wanted to read a book, I’d read a goddamn book. But I wanted a comic book here.” It could be that fans were more interested in the overall plot between the series’s main player, and felt that the Victor Reis story just got in the way. If this is the case then I can understand. The confrontation was certainly much more interesting. I do remember the text elements not being such a problem when reading Jaka’s Story- probably because the two elements were linked more firmly together.
The author, in his introduction, suggests that if the reader has a problem with the text pieces then they should feel free to take a razor blade and cut them out. Personally I have a less damaging suggestion: read the book out of order. Start with the confrontation, skipping ahead to each part. Then read the Victor Reis reads section. Then the editorial section at the end with the paper thin facade of Victor Davis. The books flows better that way and you will find it a much more satisfying read.

The last part mostly is experimental writing by the author. He plays with different methods of expressing himself, interspersed with various vignettes containing famous comic book personalities and other observations. It comes across very distinctly that the author was a mean drunk. The type to make vicious phone calls at night while shitfaced, then forget them in the morning. It’s just as well that he converted to Islam (or a subsidiary thereof) and quit the vino. The writing itself is not great, can be tedious, and really out of place in the book.
The end of this volume contains the infamous issue number 186, Tangent, which went on to become one of the most controversial books in comic history and this, coupled with the other criticisms above, lead to a sharp decline in Cerebus’s readership A lot of people have tried to defend or excuse this portion claiming it to be satire, but it certainly doesn’t read that way. I am of the opinion that he believes what he says, at least at the time of its publication, and must point out that many of his points in regards of feminism and misandry are becoming more and more popular in light of the anti-sjw backlash appearing online. It seems that once again Sims was ahead of the curve. He highlights that in the then media (the 90s) and other talking points feelings trump reason. How one feels about a situation is the most important aspect of the story, not the facts.
His view of male feminists and men in relationships in modern times is, again, now standard. He held back previously from these observations because he was trying to get laid. Now that has given it up, he felt free to express himself without restraint. And as most the male population still wants to have sex, they go along with the feminist dogma.
Using the idea of the female void vs. the male light, he lambastes the idea of patriarchy ruling the government, and the politics of feelings have overrun the necessity to get things done. Virtue signaling through government funds is the most important and visual part of a politician's job.  Though I believe part of that is the introduction of television into the political process, not the feminization of politics themselves.

None of these are new ideas now. They are howled from every corner of Youtube. The skeptic community agrees to all of his points and expands upon them. So why was he vilified in certain quarters? Because he was the first to come out and say it, and the first man who tells the truth is always nailed to a tree. The new Mountain Dew flavor should be “Dave Sim did nothing wrong.”

Monday, July 31, 2017

Cerebus Vol. 8: Women

by Dave Sim & Gerhard

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanaheim (June 1994)

Softcover 247 pages

Finished 7/30/2017

Amazon Listing 

    This volume collects issues 163-174 of Cerebus and is the second volume in the Mothers and Daughters arc, which dominates the second third of the Cerebus series. With the depth of a story in a series like this, it reminds me often of Dante’s The Divine Comedy. That is of the many people I talk to about literature, many have heard of it, but almost none have read it all the way through.
The diverging philosophies of Cirinism and Kevillism are explained in more detail here. While both are sexist female dominance matriarchy they differ in some key points. Well key for a liberal agenda, as often these types of movements and organizations break into splinter groups over minor dogmatic trivia- which then leads to violence. As it has been shown, when you leave a leftist organization alone it begins to feed on itself, as they are only good as destroying what exists, not in building anything. These are told in various documents written by Cirin and Astoria, the mother and daughter respectively.
    The difference between the two aspects dwells on who should be allowed to have the responsibility for government. The Cirinist views only that women who have given birth (whether live or not is uncertain) should be allowed to vote or hold office. They believe that only the tempering effect of having a fragile life depend on them absolutely can allow a woman to fully understand the what is important in life. They represent a more traditional standard values of aspect of early feminism. Essentially they are conservative and interested primarily in maintaining the status quo, only with women in charge. Astoria points out the hypocrisy of this in that most of these “mothers” who take power often then pawn their children off on nannies and wet nurses to raise for them- thus defeating the purpose of being a mother in the Cirinist philosophy. Shades of Hillary Clinton here.
    While the Kevillist view exists solely on the basis of choice,  constant choice for the woman. The choice to become a mother, to abort a child or keep it, to become married or not, to gain a career or not- and that society should constantly respond accordingly and positively to the choices that a woman makes. It is pointed out that having more choices increases, rather than decreases, factionalism. As leftists are “all or nothing” political personalities, groups popped up each fervently believing with religious ferocity that they have the one-and-only correct view of life and that those who do not agree are monsters requiring extermination. Hence all of the political violence stemming from the left. Astoria, through her Kevillist dogma, states that the Cirnist mothers should handle the domestic policies, while the Kevillist handle all the others.
    Of course both of these policies boil down to have and have-nots. Those who are mothers have no problem with the Cirinist model, while unable to unwilling to procreate are staunch Kevillists.
    We are seeing the end of Astoria here, the political force behind Cerebus’s rise to power/ Her main ability seems to be in propping up others and stirring domestic unrest. She is the brain behind two dissident organizations: Kevillist and the Eye of the Pyramid- a terrorist organization in Palnu that she formed primarily to assassinate her ex-husband Lord Julius. She is stripped of power and lost faith in her followers whom she attempted to empower, but mindlessly bleat after her like sheep.
    The Roach enters his best incarnation, in my opinion, as Swoon, a parody of Dream from the massive hit Vertigo series Sandman. In it we see a comment on the angst ridden goth narcissism which was a popular stance at the time. Swoon (and his sister Snuff) is a mopey whiner, chronic masturbater, that contemplates the futility of life and everything ad nauseum.  He claims to wield great power, but spends most of his time ineffectually complaining about life in purple prose.
    Endgame for the drama of the series starts with this book, with the current incarnation of Suenteus Po, dressed as Death, bringing all of the players together at the end of the book for a final showdown. And explosive it will be.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Cerebus Vol. 7: Flight

By Dave Sim & Gerhard

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanheim (January 1993)

Softcover 245 pages

Finished 7/27/2017

Amazon Listing

           We start the second half of Cerebus with this volume, which binds together issues 151-162.  In this text, we get back to the main conflicts of the Cerebus series. Some say that the story finally starts again, after being dragged down by Jaka’s Story and Melmoth, and I can see there point. Church and State I & II, while great, gave us more questions than answers and offered a whole host of odd occurrences that hadn’t been addressed up until this point. People invested in a series want answers and a three year tease is quite enough.
This is the first book in the Mother’s and Daughters arc, which will encompass the next three volumes as well, essentially ending most of the action in the series. But what a ride it will be.
An aspect that is brought out here and mentioned in the previous volume Melmoth, is the shared hivemind of the Cirinist and their ability to communicate telepathically. This seems a deliberate spin on the communist collective element present in many radicalized leftist organizations. The idea that you must either “believe in every idea we have or you are our enemy” is very present in this mental communication. It is expressed in a very similar method as “sending” is in Elfquest.

The Cirinists have run wild, executing anyone that stands in their way. We discover what has happened to all of the gold collected by Cerebus during his tenure as Pope. Cirin plans to melt and pour it together in a huge sphere, so that she may have her own ascension, similar to the one Cerebus had at the end of Church and State.
We see a general wrapping up of characters and concepts that appeared in the first volume of the series, in some of the first issues even. He begins to tie them all together in what is termed the “great change” that is to come. The succubi from issue 2 dissipates into nothing; the character of Death which may or may not have been Tarim, known for his cowled pure black figure and an hourglass dangling before him, has his life force drained away by the chaos gems; the Pigts of Northland kill each other off; two versions of the Judge appear and begin arguing etc etc.

The odd events surrounding Cerebus are reminiscent of those in Church and State, indicating a cosmic event will soon occur. Miniature Cerebus’s appear around people, threatening them. People disappear at Cerebus’s command, as did Astoria just before she murdered the Eastern Pontiff. Vision of Gods appear on Earth and dreams, things change, fall apart, and cannot hold together.  The Roach, now Punisherroach, has accidentally shifted his consciousness to a higher plane and begins reading people’s minds and gains insight into the higher spheres of existence. This seems to be mostly due to his mental illness.
These random causations, are a result of Cerebus’s eventual ascension to the eighth sphere, and are act of wills and enlightenment. The sphere’s referenced here are representative of the planets, in this case it is Neptune. it is so far away and so stressful a journey that only a mental construct of Cerebus’s can be projected there. This eventually causes (I’m extrapolating here, none of it is explicitly explained) the ripple effect of visions and tiny Cerebi appearing.
In his journey, he is given an alternate vision of his future one where he eventually defeats the Cirinists and becomes the toast of the Iest once again. Cerebus rejects this, because of what the Judge states, but as we will see all visions of his future are true, just not true at the same time.
As you may have noted, at the time this was written there were nine spheres, Pluto was still considered a planet (and it still is to me, damnit!). But what is there? That will be revealed in volume 10, Minds.

Cerebus’s next ascension, this time a mental rather than physical one,  leads to a chess game with the third Aardvark, Suenteus Po, shown here an an ethereal construct, barely outlined. This is the culmination of Suenteus Po’s various lives, possibly an oversoul collecting the experiences and knowledge of  his various incarnations. It appears that all of the other conversations with this character (in the Mind Games I-VI issues) were aspects of his consciousness or temporal shifts in the other spheres, resulting in him talking to a previous incarnation of the Suenteus Po.

The Po placed here has previously been an incarnated as some of the most significant innovators and revolutionaries in the continent’s history. And in every case his revolutions has descended into vice, corruption, decay, and collapsed. Then he is reincarnated again to start to the entire process over. So in this life, and due to the “magnifier” effect that Aardvarks have upon the world (more on that in future posts), he has opted out in this life, living in complete seclusion with no friends or family. His only indulgence is a chessboard.  He will not interfere, because he sees that it leads nowhere.
This encounter leads to my first real negative criticism of the Cerebus storyline. There are simply too times that Cerebus accidently bumps into an omnipresent being who knows everything and fills in our uncaring anti-hero on a much of major plot points and background detail. This has happened twice so far (the Judge and Suenteus Po) and will occur three more times during the course of the series.  What these characters have to say and their perspectives is fascinating and well-written, but such a device begins to wear thin when their main purpose is to disseminate information.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cerebus Vol 6: Melmoth

By Dave Sim and Gerhard

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanheim; 4th Printing edition (October 1991)

Softcover 267 pages

Finished 7/24/2017

Amazon Listing

        With this volume we reach the halfway mark for Cerebus. It collects issues 139-150 out of a total of 300. As with Jaka’s Story, Cerebus becomes a background character in this volume, spending the time staring into space on a patio and eating raw potatoes. The art has certainly matured here. It is much less cartoony, expressing a greater depth of emotion, detail, and versatility than ever before. This is demonstrated in the last twenty pages of the book.
The story’s main focus is on the death of Oscar Wilde. For continuity’s sake the Oscar in this story is not the same as the Oscar from Jaka’s Story, though they are based on the same person at different points in his life. The one presented here is Oscar Melmoth- Melmoth being Wilde’s traveling name when traveling Europe. This was during his unofficial  exile from Victorian society following his two year stint in jail for “gross indecency with men.”
While reaching for this novel, the author has commented on he has found no dispassionate biographies of the man. That each one displays as much, if not more, on the beliefs and politics of the author as it does about the life of Oscar Wilde. Often they cherry pick information to help form their narratives and ignore those which might contradict it. In one biography he is the Literary Giant, brought low by mediocre vermin. In others he the Predator, a corruptor of youth and of middling talent. And in this the author here is not much different, he only varies in his execution.
         For the most part, apart from the visuals, he presents the final days on Oscar Wilde in the words of Robert Ross and Reginald Turner, his two friends who were with him at the end. He quotes exclusively from their correspondence at the time of his death, adjusting only the place names to fit in with the geography of the series. In Melmoth, Wilde is the Dying Martyr, riddled with debt and rife with illness. The reader cannot help but be moved by his plight. If not for the help of his friends, he would’ve ended up dying in a gutter on a dingy street.
Included as an appendix are copies of the documents the author used to assemble Melmoth’s story, along with reflections by Sim on the quality and accuracy of the material. It is quite interesting for those who want to learn a bit more on the historical events surrounding Oscar Wilde.
Throughout the novel Cerebus is in a state of shock. Having learned from the Judge that his life will be a forgotten failure and believing that Jaka, his true love, is dead, he wanders to a lonely inn and offers the owner a gold piece in exchange for room and board for the rest of Cerebus’s life. When Cerebus was pope, as we remember from Church and State I and II, he demanded that everyone turn all of their gold over to him, which collapsed the economy. After Cirin’s forces moved in the confiscated the gold, but none of it has been distributed in the city (there will be more on where the money went next volume), so the offer of a single gold piece is like offering a motel owner ten million dollars to stay in a room forever. His solitude ends violently (of course it does, this is Cerebus) when he discovers Jaka is alive and the book concludes in one of the best fight scenes in the series.
We see several characters from the past and their degradation and imprisonment under the new Cirinist rule the city-state of Iest. They are all forced to wear a similar outfit and have their hair cut to a particular style. One designed not to arouse sexual impulses as part of the Cirinist sex-negative philosophy. We encounter the Roach, a once powerful if idiotic character,  now reduced to a hate filled mass of anger which he dares not show. The character is shown here as wearing horn rimmed glasses and a beige suit and some people not familiar with indie comics from the 80s may not realize that he is parodying the character of Normalman, which was published by Aardvark-Vanaheim comics at one point.