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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Cerebus Vol 16: The Last Day (Graphic Novel)

By Dave Sim & Gerhard

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanheim (March 31, 2004)

Softcover 260 pages

Finished 9/6/2017

Amazon Listing

    This is it! The last volume of Cerebus, collecting issues 289 - 300 of the stellar independent series. Cerebus was truly the first breakout independent title, the first comic to go 300 issues with the same writer and artist (I think the only one to come close would be the 190 issues of G.I. Joe written by Larry Hama- and that’s not including the artist). As you read from the volume to volume you can truly take in the growth of the artist. When Cerebus was good, it was the best. When it went downhill, it was still good (art wise) just not as much as it used to be. And while I lambasted the previous volume, I believe this one comes back on track.

    It opens with a forty page spread of a new revelation by Cerebus on the creation of the universe. Based on previous biblical text combined with scientific theory, it is a reworking of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. This may sound similar to what I was complaining about in the previous volume, but here he does the execution right. Script with illustration, rather than long blocks of text. The only flaw is the microscopic annotations at the bottom of each page. Which should have included them in the back of the volume along with all the others. Cerebus writes down this revelation and hides it, ala I, Claudius.

    It is many many years later, and the sanctuary the three wise guys created is not a fortress. A collective religious shrine, political powerhouse, with the various city states about all tied in a mutual defense pact. The world is on high alert. A new collective of feminist/pedophile/terrorist groups is threatening to destabilize civilization. It sounded farfetched then when it was written in 2004, but now it seems like a lot of these prediction have bloomed. He was called a religious nut and paranoid, but in the end Dave Sim seems to be right about what is coming.
It’s with a heavy heart that I watch our once vibrant antihero descend into decrepitude and senility. Cerebus is a wrinkled incontinent mess, his body on the verge of collapse. Mentally he is gone, his mind a garbage heap of old ideas and incongruent memories. Close to two hundred years old, his one obsession is to see his son again. Shep-Shep as he is called hasn’t been to see Cerebus in close to fifteen years, but the latter cannot remember why they parted.
He is Cerebus’s son with New Joanne, whom we meet at the end of Latter Days. She is the reporter who is talking with Cerebus about his ideas on the Torah and his past with the prophet Rick. She is in fact a dead ringer for Jaka, which is why Cerebus falls for her.
An interesting note about Shep-Shep is that his only resemblance to his father that is he has three toes. A subtle detail that I missed and had to read about it in the annotations. The reunion, as you can guess, is not a happy one. The Judge way back in issue 123 decreed that Cerebus would die, “alone, unmourned, and unloved” and he did not lie.
Shep-Shep is a creepy little shit, full of odd powers, and weird ideas. He has completely sided with his mother and they share an incestuous relationship. Apparently he is destined to be the inspiration for the Sphinx (or his bastard creations are). His purpose in visiting is to taunt his father about his beliefs and his collapsing religious foundation. The Muslims are coming. One of the interesting aspects here is that Shep-Shep’s mother, New Joanne, has inserted herself into Cerebus’s history, rewriting the events to give herself a prominent role. This is reminiscent of feminist rewriting of history to suit their political agendas. It reminds me of Erin Patria Margaret Pizzey, the woman who created the first domestic abuse shelter, but has since nearly been erased from history  because she rejected the Marxist ideology that most feminist organizations at the time projected.
After he leaves, Cerebus is in a rage. I will say this for our antihero, he dies with sword in hand, leaping from his bed. But the flesh is weak and he collapses dying alone on the floor. What comes next is a manner of some debate. The light opens, the spirit of Cerebus sees all of the figures from the past, friend and foe, with one exception. Rick is absent. The prophet and messianic figure for Cerebus's religion isn't present, which gives our antihero pause. He then runs, runs from the light. His spirit is yanked and that is that.
This was a quarter of a century long journey. A feat many jealous naysayers claimed would be impossible. The talent of the author cannot be denied, whether or not you agree with what he did with it. Cerebus lived hard and died hard, this was a true and fitting ending for him. An ending that should used a model for others. I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading this series and I cannot recommend strongly enough for everyone else to read it as well.
Oh and I forgot to mention that Cerebus once met the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

       For more readings, try my collection of books. 


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