Page 45 Review by Stephen
The original art has been reshot then reprinted on such finer paper stock that the book's already considerable girth has almost doubled.
"Anything Done For The First Time Unleashes A Demon."
Around this time there was a CEREBUS cover whose only visual element was the hand-lettering of the sentence above, white letters on black. No picture at all. I don't recall that being done before or any time since. As both a brave and successful attention-grabbing visual device and as a Truth, it has stuck with me ever since to the extent that I typed the sentence from memory rather than sought out my own issue.
It's now that we start using the word 'genius'. Not because I am drunk but because the writing and art have both ascended to the point of inspired precision. Every look, every line has a weight to it. They're so well refined and targeted, and amongst the targets are melodramatic superheroes in the form of Chris Claremont's Wolverine, and organised religion. Not faith - that's a very different thing. Which is fortunate, for Sim would go on to embrace God with a passion.
Prime Minister Cerebus is persuaded to enter the Church, to vie for the role of Pope which for Cerebus involves throwing babies off roofs to prove a point about obeisance and being careful what you wish for. Please don't think that Cerebus has been converted. He hasn't. The most famous CEREBUS t-shirt has him dressed as Pope declaring, "He doesn't love you. He just wants all your money." Specifically, he wants gold.
But Cerebus achieves his status through an assassination out of his hands, and for the first time he observes that "Something fell!" It won't be the last. It will ripple through time and, when uttered in the future, will become a catalyst for destruction.
This is where the subplot - hiding in the wings but very much in evidence for those who've either been looking for it or reading in retrospect - really kicks in. There is something evidently rather singular about our Aardvark. Also something of a duality. Things happen around him. There are the Mind Games, the Strange White Glowing Thing, and the gold evidently wants him as much as he wants it ...
Did I mention he gets married? If the first book begins as a parody of CONAN, you won't be surprised at the inclusion of a character called Red Sophia based on female barbarian Red Sonja. What would perhaps surprise you is that Red Sophia's mother is an extended homage to British cartoonist Giles. It's brilliantly done, too.
More Mind Games, more chess pieces, more Jaka. Oh, yes, more Marx Brothers!
For more on CEREBUS - an overview or its story and an assessment of its structure, its art, its invention and its place in comicbook history - please see my reviews of every single one of its sixteen component parts making up 300 monthly issues written and drawn over twenty-three years.
Unusually I wrote them back to back just before Page 45's website launched because a) most of the collected editions were published long before we wrote reviews so we had none, and b) CEREBUS is such a landmark series in the history of comic art and industry that I would not countenance a Page 45 website launching without every single edition being assessed to one extent or another.
Because I wrote them back to back, they constitute one complete and hopefully coherent review dealing with different elements like the lettering and art rather than repeating myself each time as an introduction. Begin at the beginning?
CEREBUS VOL 1.