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Monday, July 31, 2017

Cerebus Vol. 8: Women (Graphic Novel)

by Dave Sim & Gerhard

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanaheim (June 1994)

Softcover 247 pages

    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.


       For more readings, try my collection of books. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Cerebus Vol. 7: Flight (Graphic Novel)

By Dave Sim & Gerhard

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanheim (January 1993)

Softcover 245 pages

           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. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cerebus Vol 6: Melmoth (Graphic Novel)

By Dave Sim and Gerhard

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

Softcover 267 pages

        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.

       For more readings, try my collection of books. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Cerebus Zero (Graphic Novel)

By Dave Sim and Gerhard

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanheim; 1st edition (1993)

Softcover 105 pages

"Someone pushes a button and blows up the sun."
This is a collection of five issues which, though part of the Cerebus continuity, has been left out of the phonebook trade paperbacks. These are not as such a book, technically it is a large comic book, but I am putting them in a post simply for completeness sake.
The issues collected here, numbers 51, 112, 113, 137, & 138, are transitional issues between arcs. Issue 51 “Exodus” comes between High Society and Church and State, 112 and 113 “Square One” go between Church and State and Jaka’s Story, and the last pair, “Like-a-Looks” bridges the gap from Jaka’s Story to Melmoth (which will be the next review after this one).
The action in “Exodus” takes place after our anti-hero has been deposed as the prime minister of the city-state of Iest, the area is now occupied by an enemy army, and he is forced to flee in the hold of a ship. He discovers he is not alone, as every other major official of the fallen government is making their escape on the exact same vessel. This leads to a war of words and puns between Lord Julius, Elrod of Melvinbone, the Roach, and so on. Cerebus, out for blood, can’t decide who to kill first. 

“Square One” happens just after Cerebus has returned from his meeting on the moon with the Judge who has informed him that his dreams of military conquest will all fail,  that he will die in a few years “alone, unloved, and unmourned”, and that life on the planet will eventually be snuffed out in a nuclear holocaust. Of course, to the Judge, who is hundreds of thousands of years old, a “few years” could be a long time from our perspective. Cerebus is understandably depressed and entertains thoughts of suicide. He walks through the wreckage of his life, physically and emotionally, and sees how little his ambition has yielded him. All of his money is gone, his loyal retainers run off, and his power evaporated.  
The telling scene is when he is standing over the rotting corpse of Bran Mak Morn, a true believer that  committed suicide. As the maggots devour his unburied retainer's flesh, he realizes the only thing he has ever accomplished is death. Now back to square one, he picks up his sword, dons his leather Han Solo vest, and reclaims his medallions (his outfit is so 70s, I’m surprised that he wasn’t into EST as well), and walks down the mountain into Jaka’s Story.  

We learn a bit more of the Cirinist sex-negative militant feminist philosophy as well, at least the practical applications on it. Women are not allowed in bars (they might be attacked by sexually crazed men), no music is allowed (as if might cause lustful thoughts and cause men to rape women), no dancing either (for the same reasons), all children are raised in government nurseries, and voting rights and citizenry only extended to women who have given birth. That last stipulation is the cause of the great divide in their movement.  
Mostly told with silent imagery, the silence is powerful and necessary. There are no words that could adequately express what he has learned. It is reminiscent of the “Silent Interlude” issue of G.I. Joe back in the early 80s. I truly wish these issues had been included in the beginning of volume 5 or the end of volume 4, because without them it appears as if Cerebus was completely unphased by his cosmic trip.  

The last pair “Like-a-Looks” has a purely humorous plot. Lord Julius, the Groucho Marx analogue, has returned home to discover that a number of his stand-ins\body doubles, are now all claiming to be him. A power struggle occurs where it is nearly impossible for the reader to tell who is the real Julius (except for the pair that are obviously Elrod and Chico Marx).  There is lots of snappy dialogue and a very humorous ending- not gut-busting laughs, but still funny. It also reveals that the Lord Julius who appears in Jaka’s Story is one of these like-a-looks. 

These are not essential issues, but if you’re going to collect all of Cerebus then you 

will need this book. 

       For more readings, try my collection of books. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Cerebus Vol. 5: Jaka's Story (Graphic Novel)

By Dave: Sim & Gerhard

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanheim; 6th Printing edition (September 1991)

Softcover  486 pages

    “Over that night, as Jaka slept soundly for the first time since her mother’s funeral; as those wavering horrors which had filled the air between her and the room visible to her were banished at last; as she shared the solitude with Missy for the first time in their short life together…”

    This volume collects issues 114-136 of the series. Cerebus takes a back seat here, becoming a minor character and actually disappearing for the last quarter of the book - not that it detracts from the story. I have heard and read many people claim that Jaka’s Story is the pinnacle of his artistic achievement in art and story.

In this volume also the author begins his award-winning expressive use of lettering and speech balloons to illustrate the character’s verbal rhythms and intonations.
    Cerebus has returned to Earth, his empire, religious and secular, destroyed. The city-state of Inest, the largest in the world, has been overrun by Cirin and her religious fanatics. They are roaming about the city killing and maiming all those who will not bend the knee to the new faith of female supremacy. Men executed, men disfigured, men mutilating their genitals to join the new priesthood. It is commented on that most of the torture is confined to the poorer areas who cannot defend themselves- thus showing the true cowardice of the movement. Cerebus finds himself alone and in need of shelter from those who must surely be hunting him.
    The Cirinist movement is a violent sex-negative feminist sect with fascistic goals and an ideology determined to ground down a person’s soul until they are nothing but a ball of conformity. Women, especially mothers, are at the top of the food chain with everyone else expected to bow before them. Convinced that all men are on the verge raping women if their passions are aroused, their violent rhetoric is dove-tailed with certain elements of Islamic extremism. Cirinists dress in burqas, revealing only their eyes and act in a sort of Police of Vice and Virtue manner, committing summary executions on the spot for minor crimes, especially any hint of sexuality. It is interesting that the author had been discussing and warning us of what is now the norm for fourth-wave intersectional feminism at least two decades before it emerged. He saw the writing on the wall.
Author Dave Sim
    The action takes a jolt, or come to a screeching halt depending on your opinion, and a detour in style. Cerebus, back from a jaunt to the moon, spends the next 25 issues mooning over his lost love Jaka. The extraordinary events of the past issues not phasing him a bit- or changing him. Cerebus, if anything, is  the static character. Previously the action revolved around mystic prophecies, armies warring, political intrigue, betrayal, magic, and murder. Now it changes to emotional, rather than physical danger. A love triangle between her, Cerebus, and her unemployable husband Rick (technically a quintangle if we add their neighbor’s lust for Rick, as well as Jaka’s employer Pud secret covetous attitude toward her as well).
    This alternating of the tone is fitting to the character of Jaka. She had voluntarily given up her life of pomp and privilege to live simply and dance, diverging her power from the reaction of crowd swooning over her. As such, a story focusing almost exclusively on her would not involve world shattering events, but be a celebration of the mundanity of life, the in-between the exciting moments.    
The tone of these issues reflects the quiet before the storm. Alternating between a, possibly exaggerated, narrative account of her upbringing in Palnu under the Groucho Marx analogue Lord Julius, to her current existence dancing in a forgotten inn and shacking up with Rick and Cerebus, who add nothing to the larder. It is painfully apparent that this state of affairs cannot stay as it is. The bar has no business, Pud’s lust will boil over, Rick will need to grow up or end his marriage, Jaka will have to move on elsewhere, and Cerebus will have to flee or be captured by Cirinist forces.
    We are introduced to two new characters in this arc. One being Oscar, not-so-loosely based on Oscar Wilde. Who is secretly writing Jaka’s story based on conversations with her husband and his command of dialogue and body language. As such the stories from Jaka’s past, while factually correct, are possibly misinterpreted emotionally. The author does an excellent job capturing Wilde’s flamboyant, yet refined, style. And in the prose sections he captures Wilde’s style almost exactly with an overabundance of detail in every single act, which simultaneously casts a critical eye on their respective society.
    Next we have Rick, Jaka’s childlike husband. He is a well meaning goof. A typical guy in his early 20’: Unable to get a job, doesn’t really to get a job, hanging with the boys is the highlight of his day. Rick is completely without ambition and guile, which is why I suspect Jaka claimed him. He is the exact opposite of any man she grew up around, someone she could dominate, and as a rebellion against an uncaring “daddy” figure. Their relationship is strained, sexual, and punctuated with lots and lots of arguing. In short, it feels very real.
    The prose and visual mediums, while seemingly on alternate topics, connect on the theme of minor triumphs that escape the pages of the history book and make up the majority of our lives. Rick’s obsession with tossing a ball into a wastepaper basket, Pud mental recital of how he will declare his love\lust for Jaka and nearly making it (until she vomits on him), Cerebus’s drifting nature, Oscar’s story of young Jaka’s first feeble rebellion, the opening of a forbidden door- a triumph for her, barely notied by anyone else.
    The ending does offer a different aspect on Jaka, tarnishing her golden girl image. She is shown to be willing to allow others to suffer or be placed in danger to further her own selfish ends. As long as she feels happy the ends justify the means. This attitude leads to the deaths or ruin of every other character in this arc.

       For more readings, try my collection of books. 


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cerebus Vol. 4: Church and State II (Graphic Novel)

 By Dave Sims and Gerhard

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanheim; First Edition edition (July 1988)

Softcover 630 pages

    “So Cerebus the Aardvark...First married pope in history… first divorced pope in history. First individual I’ve ever spoken to in all of the hundreds of thousands of years I’ve been here. <Sigh>. You’ll forgive me if I’m a little disappointed.” - The Judge
    Church and State II wraps up the largest and most ambitious arc in Cerebus’s run. Comprising issues 85 -111 of the series, it brings forth and defines the tone for the rest of the series. Cerebus, our anti-hero, is ulitmarly a failure. Though surrounded by greatness he is ultimately doomed to fail and will die, as the Judge proclaims “alone, unmourned, and unloved.” Oh… spoilers I guess… but considering the end happened in 2004 and was written in 1988, I suppose it should be called foreshadowing, though of a very blunt variety.
This is the time in Cerebus’s original publication history when sales began to take a significant drop. There were a number of reasons for this. The first being oversaturation of the market, direct sales meant a lot of smaller players could flood the distributors with fast and cheap products. This caused the whole industry to take a slump in sales, everyone had to deal with a much smaller slice. The second was that Cerebus is not a series that you can just jump into midstream.  To understand, beyond the vaguest idea, of what is happening you really do need to absorb it all from the beginning, or at least start at the second volume High Society
Author Dave Sim
    The book takes its time in developing its plot. It makes hints, adds things, but doesn’t really get underway for about 300 pages, (thought those pages are beautiful to look at). When I first read it, I thought the story dragged considerably, as I was anxious to get the get to the good stuff or some sort of explanation, but on a second read (or third, I can’t remember) I enjoyed it much more. Knowing the end, I can see much more merit in the journey.
    And to keep up with our Roach count. The character now becomes a religious fanatic, the Super Secret Wars Roach. The character is a perfect parody of the superhero genre in comics. He is a deeply fanatical towards the cause he is championing. He is powerful, superhumanly strong, and beats up anyone that opposes him (with the exception of Cerebus himself), but essentially he is ineffective as an agent of change. He changes from one persona to the next, but cannot alter the world. He is, in a sense, a failed Cerebus, as our anti-hero changes everything just by walking near it. 
Super Secret War Roach

    We finally catch a glimpse of the second Aardvark, or Earth Pig born, in the veiled character of Cirin who has founded the Cirinist movement, a female-centric religious fanatic organization, which Astoria (we remember her as Cerebus’s Hillary Clinton character) split off from on doctrinal grounds. She formed the rival Kevillist movement and two have been at odds ever since. This division will be explained more in future posts, as it is developed in greater detail in later volumes.
    There is a cross-over issue here, with the character of Flaming Carrot popping up during Cerebus’s ascent to the moon. Younger readers may not remember, or even have heard about, this indie sensation, as his popularity dried up with the comics book’s bust in the mid 90s. The character is a Don Quixote type, a man who reads too many comic books and ends up trying to be superhero with mixed results. The character had a spin off, Mysterymen, which was eventually made into a good film - one that was actually better than its source material. At the time of this meet-up, the character was being published by Aardvark-Vanaheim which produced Cerebus as well. So if anyone is confused as to what the hell is happening in that issue, it was a promotional thing, placed in such a way as to suggest it may be a delusion or mystic vision at Cerebus climbs the Black Tower. 
Flaming Carrot
    With the Ascension underway we see various aspects of religious thought emerge. Essentially it is a race (in this case literally) to the top of the mountain to see who will meet and then be Tarim. As was mentioned before the name Tarim refers both to the  deity and the prophet. Which they expect to meet and/or become is vague and even the players themselves don’t seem to understand. In this author offers a discussion on the nature of messianic figures. In this case it is a job title, not an ordainment of a predestined chosen one by a celestial being. Anyone who fits the qualifications can potentially get the position.
This is partially a reflection of the time of Jesus’s crucifixion. Judea at the time was lousy with messiahs. Such as Simon of Peraea, a former slave turned revolutionary and was likewise crucified, Moses of Crete who persuaded the Jews of Crete to walk into the sea, ala his namesake, to return to Israel. The results were disastrous and he soon disappeared. Simon bar Kokhba who lead a revolt against the Romans and died defending his fledgling Jewish state. And so on. Many with signs and portents and miracles attributed to their name. But being eligible for the top job is not enough, one has to have the right stuff. That something extra. This view is demonstrated by the fact that when Cerebus finally ascends to the moon there is another applicant waiting to try and kick him off. 
Cirin, the second Aardvark
The series steadily develops its major theme of the struggle between male and female aspects of reality. Primarily demonstrated in the argument between Astoria (on trial for the assassination of the Western pope) and Cerebus. Strangely enough their argument descends into an is-to\is-not spat over the correct terminology for their deity Tarim (the masculine) and Terim (the feminine). This verbal jousting, as always, leads nowhere, as one viewpoint cannot win out over another without a physical show of force to beat the other into silent submission. As the author postulates the entirety of life is a flux between male and female, void and form, essences. This struggle is eternal and all concurrent struggles are a reflection, or ripple, of the initial one. This is hinted during Astoria’s interrogation, a temporal slip occurs where she is the male Aardvark prophet and Cerebus is the female condemner. This struggle for control, for enlightenment, for peace has been going on as long there has been mankind with no end in sight.   

An interesting aspect is that when Cerebus ascends to the higher plane to meet the divine entity, he goes to the moon. Traditionally this heavenly sphere is associated with the feminine and yet the creature he meets there is a male. This does fit in with a yin-yang aspect to the night the sky. The black void is male, but the most prominent feature, the moon, is the female form emerging. And this is represented in both of the messiah claimants who eventually take part in the launch sequence and leave earth. Both physically represent male and female traits. The first, an Alan Moore characiature who is fused with both a male and female apocalypse beast (seen in the first volume of the series), and Cerebus himself is <SPOILERS> a hermaphrodite- though this is not revealed for a least a hundred more issues.  
Which brings us to the story’s culmination Cerebus’s meeting with the Judge. Personality wise based on playwright Jules Feiffer's character Judge Stern in Little Murders, physically the Judge was based on character actor Lou Jacobi , who played the role. While he is called the Judge, he should be referred to as the judgemental as inevitably all of his pronouncements are negative and pessimistic. The character talks much, discussing the nature of creation between Tarim and Terim and their accidental generation of the Big Bang, interpreted  as act of forcible sex (very nice play on words) and reproduction. 

                        Actor Lou Jacobi                                   The Judge
The character itself is an exercise in futility. He claims that he is there to observe mankind and to judge them, but he already knows what will happen in Cerebus’s future and the eventual extinction of all life in the solar system so what is the point of him observing? What is the point of him judging? For whose benefit? And who set him on the task. In his discussions of Terim and Tarim it is obvious that neither of these entities were responsible. The answer, of course is: Dave, the author, placed him there to be a cut-out, a buffer. As the author eventually becomes a character in his own series, we will have to view him as the ultimate and flawed architect of this universe.
One may see the Judge as a comment on religious exercise in general. All of this effort, all of this strife and death, for ultimately an unsatisfying and pointless encounter. Does how the creation of the world matter? Does knowing the spiritual why of things off-set the reality of what a person needs to do on a day-to-day basis? In the case of our anti-hero, it absolutely does not. 
Many have claimed that the author, Dave Sim, is a misogynist who hates women, an all too common term tossed about nowadays. But after reading the Judge's viewpoints here I don't see it. He simply comes across as a person who will offer more than one perspective on an issue. Therein lies the problem. Any deviation from a preconceived societal norm offers immediate attack and ostracization. And Dave Sim was one of the first of many public whippings in the progressive press for thoughtcrime.

       For more readings, try my collection of books.