Page 45 Review by Stephen
Its brilliant, its back and its better than ever!
This or CEREBUS VOL 5: JAKAS STORY is where we heartily recommend you join the 6,000-page epic that is CEREBUS written and drawn by a single man, Dave Sim, and his landscape artist Gerhard who will join Dave later in the run but here supplies the architecture on the cover.
Re-mastered so that the lines are sharper and the rich blacks of its ingenious framing devices shine through, out initial stock includes a signed, limited edition, tipped-in plate.
(Please note: the new interior art is hard to find online at the time of typing, so examples here may have been gleaned from earlier editions or scans of original pages including the blue lines underneath.)
The first book was episodic, Dave as an artist growing on the page in front of you, but this is a single story told in 25 chapters with a beginning, a middle and an end. One of our rationales for recommending this book as your introduction to CEREBUS is that if you can trust Dave Sim to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end over 25 issues - and you can - you'll be able to trust that he can do the same over 300 of them. It's also very, very funny.
It's a cross between Blackadder and Yes, Prime Minister, making mockery not just of politics but of exchange rates: the very idea that you can make money from having money and/or just swapping its currency. Economists quote it at length.
It co-stars arch-manipulator and mischief-merchant Lord Julius who confuses through chaos, and the extraordinary thing about Sim's treatment is that he looks and sounds precisely like Groucho Marx. You can hear him in your head, and the already impressive wit/actor/iconoclast is given a delirious script eminently worthy of him.
Cerebus previously little more than a mercenary thug and barbarian for whom greed was (and remains) a primary motivation finds himself so much in demand amongst High Society that they elect him as their candidate for Prime Minister. His opponent? Lord Julius' goat.
Not an anthropomorphic goat, but an actual goat. It's a surprisingly close-run contest until you recall that America did actually elect both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush the second time, anyway.
Also: Jaka, Cerebus sole soft spot, returns in a heart-rending scene during which you will learn the difference between inference and implication; after which you will quote Dave Sim on the subject for the rest of your newly pedantic life.
By this point Sim's skills as a sequential artist have already reached what would be most others' pinnacle, but he's only just begun. For example there are sequences in which Cerebus is drunk and so, reflecting that, the pages need to be tilted 90 degrees successively. It's also relatively rare to be able to emulate other styles and incorporate them successfully into your own comics (Mark Buckingham's particularly good at that see Neil Gaiman's DEATH: most readers think Chris Bachalo drew the whole thing), but in using his own Roach character to parody Doug Moenchs run on Marvel's MOON KNIGHT, he pulls off an exceptional impersonation of its artist Bill Sienkiewicz then in thrall to Neal Adams' neo-classical photo-realism.
Note: you don't have to have a clue what the contents of that last sentence meant to enjoy the comedy in its own right. Over 1,000 copies of CEREBUS: HIGH SOCIETY have been rung through a till either here or at the last shop where Mark and I worked for during which we organised the creators CEREBUS UK TOUR 93 whose poster is still available for sale!
Each copy was sold with a money-back guarantee. I have had one copy returned in twenty-two years.
Now it is also available as the CEREBUS: HIGH SOCIETY DIGITAL AUDIO/VISUAL EXPERIENCE DVD SET.
CEREBUS is such an exceptional series that I reviewed all sixteen volumes in the series along with the equally accessible (and far more affordable at a mere £1-80!) CEREBUS: ZERO from scratch before the launch of our website in 2010.
Do you trust me? Of course you trust me! Or if you dont trust me by now, then you really never will!