Sim, Dave – Cerebus Volume 9: Reads
There’s an immediate dilemma to my reviewing this. Do I review the text parts, the comic parts or both? Because the reviews for the two of them would be quite different. I’ll tell you right now that I’m not going to touch #186 though. Smarter people than me have done it, and that’s not what I’m here for right now. Well, obviously you can’t separate the text from the pictures. Like it or not, this is how Sim chose do to Reads and this is how it is now. One thing that he made abundantly clear in his rambling is that we are only the audience, so we have to accept that. That being said, this is my third time reading this over the years. It was a chore to get through when I was reading it month to month, but I looked forward to it because it helped me kill some of the dead time between classes, what with taking a couple of hours to read per issue (between the Notes From the President, Aardvark Comment, the preview each month and, oh yeah, the actual comic). The second time around I thought the text was intrusive and unnecessary and, quite honestly, I skipped over chunks of it. This time, I actually liked the first part of the text. It didn’t fit in the story, granted, but it was a needed shift in momentum from all the action going on in the actual comic. But the text bits changed when the fight between Cerebus and Cirin started, and that’s when this whole thing became self-indulgent and meaningless in the extreme.
What’s that you say? You can say anything you want about Sim’s comments throughout this, but “meaningless” isn’t one of them? Sure it is. What did it do for the story? Absolutely nothing. The only reason he put this in the context of the story is so it would be in print for as long as the series was. Honestly, he’s addressed this issue since then, and it’s never been in the storyline since. Why? What makes it less intrusive now than it was then? I don’t know, and I’m among the many who can’t figure this guy out for anything. Even with what he believes in, the guy is still one of my heroes simply for what he’s done in comics and how high he’s raised the bar for anybody else who wants to do a continuing story. This could have easily been the best of the books. How can you go wrong when you start with Cerebus, Cirin, Astoria and Suentes Po all in a room? He could have changed the name of the book to “Revelations”, kept the text out of it (or at least kept it fictional), and he would have had a masterpiece. Instead he’s got a jumbled mess. People, if you’re asking my advice here, skip the text pieces entirely. That’s not what his story is and I have no right to tell you that, but when I read this thing again through the years, I’m not going to read the text again. It would improve the story immeasurably, that’s for sure. All that being said, this is still a crucial piece of the larger story. Much as you’d like to, you can’t skip reading this one. Don’t get me wrong, the comic part is fantastic. The fight scene between Cerebus and Cirin is one of the best I’ve seen, and I’ve been reading comics for a long time. He took a big chance with this one creatively, and I think he blew it. You’re entitled to your opinion, but after the third time through I just can’t see where this text helps the story in any way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to read otherwise, but we could have read it in the Aardvark Comment and everything would have been fine. It’s the mark of a great storyteller, though, that I can’t wait to move onto the next book.
OK, I’ve been looking around online for almost an hour now, trying to find an “intellectual” review of #186. I can’t find one. I’ve found a few that call it a “misogynistic rant”, but they’re really short on fact about that comment, and don’t offer much in the way of debate. Anybody out there know of any intelligent reviews of this issue? I know I’ve seen some before. Let me know, I’ll put a link to it up here.