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Friday, July 28, 2017

Cerebus Vol. 7: Flight (Graphic Novel)

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.

       For more readings, try my collection of books. 

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