cover image CEREBUS: Latter Days

CEREBUS: Latter Days

Dave Sim, . . Aardvark-Vanaheim, $30 (512pp) ISBN 978-0-919359-22-2

The penultimate volume of Sim's uncategorizable 6,000-page comics epic about a talking aardvark and medieval politics is the oddest one yet. Since its debut almost 25 years ago as a parody of barbarian comics, Cerebus has become one of the most maddeningly idiosyncratic tales available anywhere. To wit, roughly a third of this collection is given over to a nearly unreadable exegesis, in tiny type, of the Torah, to the effect that God and YHWH are different entities, and that the latter (whose name is transliterated as "Yoowhoo") is actually a false, female God. Sim accompanies this with an extended parody of/commentary on Woody Allen's career. When he's on, Sim is a master cartoonist (abetted by his incomparable background artist/architect, Gerhard), and his visual technique is tops. A chunk of the book featuring the thinly disguised Three Stooges captures their body language almost miraculously, which makes a sequence about their declining years heartbreaking. This volume—much of which takes place after the entire supporting cast of the series has died, off-panel—also involves dead-on parodies of Preacher , Spawn , The Comics Journal and the Sermon on the Mount, which contains scenes of bloodshed alternately played for stomach-churning horror and for giggles; and an ending filled with abject psychological despair. Fifty pages of Sim's notes on his work follow this; they fluctuate between remarkable creative insights and sneering rants against feminism, psychiatry and "the secular mind." (Nov. 2003)