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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Cerebus Vol 10: Minds (Graphic Novel)

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. 

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