Page 45 Review by Stephen
Complete with nearly 50 pages of notes.
For me this penultimate volume is the only problematic CEREBUS book since the very first collection. The latter is easily forgiven, being the meandering journey of Cerebus into society, the book into its full potential, and the creator into his two and a half decades as an extraordinarily accomplished writer and peerless sequential artist. As in: he knows this medium, he uses this medium and he invents devices for this medium like no other person on this planet. You could do a thesis on his craftsmanship, for even the lettering is exquisite.
CEREBUS is the story of one life, and as early as the fourth volume the title character was promised he would die "alone, unmourned and unloved." His rejection of Jaka in the closing sequence of the previous chapter takes him one step there, and LATTER DAYS accelerates the process, often taking the preternaturally long-lived individual decades on in the space of a single panel. Narrated by Cerebus from some unspecified point in his future, we see the increasingly portly, wrinkled and grey-haired protagonist taking up a rustic life as a lowly shepherd, sporting champion, drunken tavern owner, kidnap victim, military conqueror and spiritual leader. The first issue boasts some very funny sheep gags.
So why is this problematic for me?
Well, I don't like the Three Stooges. The Marx Brothers, I love, the Three Stooges leave me cold. So early on, with their central role, I was tiring.
Secondly and of far more import, I'm no scripture nut. I did manage to score 99.3% in my Divinity O Level (fact, not a guestimate - it was New Testament, so with the laudable Jesus H. Christ on hand there was plenty there worth taking note of), though I doubt I could repeat that improbable performance today. And whereas The Old Testament is an interesting fantasy full of hatred and violence which I can therefore only endure in very small doses (you certainly can't fault its sales figures), a full third of LATTER DAYS consists of a text-heavy (and when I say heavy, we're talking a planet of lead compressed a pinhead), repetitive, and allegedly 'amusing' analysis by Cerebus of - what - the Torah...? Bits of the Torah...? Oh, I don't even care... all contrived to reinforce Dave's asinine view that - to quote The Cramps' sarcastic, thundering swamp-stomp - All Women Are Bad. And, of course, that God is wonderful. And male.
I have never previously skipped or even skimmed a note of this work. In fact I lapped up READS including its controversial contents, and found it cleverly done. So cleverly done. But this, I gave up on the text. It bored me rigid.
However, however, however. Although this seems completely implausible, these four hundred and sixty pages represent yet another incredible leap in Dave and Gerhard's extraordinary visual prowess. Page after page of unbelievable beauty and, of course, comicbook innovation. As ever, CEREBUS is a masterclass in what can be done. I just wasn't overly keen on what was being done, though I can tell you that the next and final book was stunning.
Plus, the notes here will help.