And so, finally it has come to the end.
All hail, and farewell, Cerebus.
Like all long sagas, it has an unsatisfactory ending. With more questions than answers, but even within this, as Cerebus sees his life flash before his eyes, Sim manages to get one last fart joke in.
Does Cerebus die, as he was told by the Judge, “Alone. Unloved. Unmourned”? Yes. And I must admit that I was somewhat surprised that Sim did not have one last conversation with his creation. Sim has appeared twice in the tale and Cerebus knows that he is nothing but someone else’s imagination. This seems to have been forgotten by both him and Sim at the end, and it’s a shame. You’d have expected Sim to have something to say to the character he’s worked on for the last twenty-five years, even if its only goodbye and good riddance.
Although the second act of Latter Days was taken over by Sim’s seeming religious conversion and therefore took undue precedence, the last thirty issues of Cerebus has seen his writing become on a par with Samuel Beckett. Cerebus, now old, infirm, and alone in his bedroom suite, gives a one-man tour-de-force on the condition of approaching death. As he walks from one side of his bedroom to talk to God .And then slowly, still moaning all the time about his infirmities, walks to a door on the other side to argue with his representative on the outside in a running joke that mirrors the UN’s involvement in Iraq. We realize that Sim has coalesced all the anger and helplessness that someone once so important feels as they finally reach the end. All the while, Cerebus also wonders why he has the word “Rosebud” on his mind so much. A story like this, related over three years, in a serial, once a month format, with nothing seemingly happening over the period, is very hard for non-readers of comics to take. But when read as a whole, takes on a lot more meaning.
A final work of genius and complexity, from a difficult man to fathom. I, for one, felt a twinge of regret when I realized that the regular comic would no longer be appearing in the Previews catalogue, as it has for the last twenty-five years.
It’s not all over yet. For now, comes the dissection and critical mauling as the authors of the Twin Peaks magazine, “Wrapped in Plastic” start their “Following Cerebus” magazine, wherein it’ll all be explained (some hope). Sim and Gerhard have given their full blessing to the project and will be giving interviews and articles. We may still will receive the full measure of Sim’s bile yet (even after his conversion it was good to see the old Sim appearing in issue 299, where he fried some poor woman and her “wimp of a husband” in the letter pages, for having the TEMERITY to disagree with some of his statements).
Goodbye also, to Jessica Jones.
Jessica is the heroine of the Alias comic from Marvel Max, written by Brian Bendis and illustrated by Michael Gaydos. This has been one of the most consistently entertaining comics in recent years and also has probably been one of the most concise look at super heroics and its place in a real-life situation (and on a more sensationalist note, it contains the first example of anal sex in Marvel Comics).
Jessica is a former super-hero who has given up the life and now works as a private detective. It’s a gritty, life on the streets drama, and whereas Jessica believes herself to have been useless at being a heroine, the life will not leave her alone. Other street-level heroes, like Daredevil and Luke Cage either call upon her services or associate with her. Characters like Captain America, The Avengers, and S.H.E.I.L.D. are the uber-gods on high.
In this final volume we find out Jessica’s secret origin and the reason why she quit. Suffice to say its not pretty, but just goes to prove how messed-up some of the villains really can be.
Bendis has always had a good ear for realistic dialogue and manner of speech, and although in Alias (as with his other heroes on the street title, Powers) his characters perhaps swear too much (does anyone know anybody who swears THIS much), it is never false or playing to an audience. Gaydos’s art is expressionistic with subtle coloring and just the right amount of grit and grime needed.
The reason for Alias’s cancellation and her reappearance in the new more family friendly comic, The Pulse, is more to do with the moneymen than bad sales. With Marvel now something of a big player in Hollywood, a lot of the comics that once had an edge are now being toned down to make them more palatable to La La Land. It’s rumored that George Clooney’s company was interested in doing a Nick Fury film and then read Garth Ennis recent 4-part mini-series on the character. Cue instant cancellation of said film project due to the content in the comic (anyone who has read it will know what I mean).
It’s sad that when Marvel was in bankruptcy, it’s comics took on a more edgier and interesting look. Taking risks and creating an older and more mature readership that was not pandered or patronized to. But once the money started rolling in with X-Men and Spider-Man, most of that has gone out the window. And although Bendis is writing The Pulse and has proved with Ultimate Spider-Man that you can write intelligently without sensation or immaturity it’s hard to realise that nobody has still learned that Hollywood is a fickle mistress (wish I’d bought Marvel stock when it was rock bottom though).
Cerbus The Aardvark by Dave Sim and Gerhard is available from Aardvark/Vanaheim and the Following Cerebus magazine will be out soon.
Alias Vol 4: Secret Origin of Jessica Jones is published by Max Comics, an imprint of Marvel Comics and is priced £11.99. Available from all good comic-book shops now.