After the emotionally draining events at the climax of Jaka's Story, we get this.. strange little book. Only twelve issues long, the shortest one so far, it tells two tales that only interact with each other for a couple of frames. We get Cerebus dealing with what he believes to be the death of Jaka, and the slow decline and death of Oscar Wilde. Not the Oscar character based on Oscar Wilde of Jaka's Story - he's in a Cirnist prison. No, it seems after enjoying writing Oscar in that book Dave Sim wanted to do more with him, and so simply put in the "real" Oscar Wilde as a character, but uses excerpts from the letters of Oscar Wilde's friend Robert Ross about Wilde's last days and death, instead of writing new material himself. Yes a peculiar choice which makes it a little difficult for me to write an awful lot about this volume, because over half of the text is not by Dave Sim. In later books, F.Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemmingway play major roles, as of course Oscar did in the previous book and are incorporated into the action in ways that make heir usage justifiable. But here the Wilde portions of the book are far removed from the Cerebus parts, and give no insight into any ongoing characters nor do they even match a general theme. It's the first worrying sign of self-indulgence on the part of Dave Sim, and while collected in one volume it's a pleasant enough hour's read, this would have taken twelve months to complete reading on a monthly basis and I can't imagine how annoying that must have been for the comic's audience back then.
Melmoth: "One of the happiest of Cirin's many 'happy accidents' is complete freedom of expression. In a society where dissenting viewpoints are suppressed those viewpoints are potent and dangerous. Where dissent is tolerated, it rapidly becomes quaint and is viewed as unsophisticated. People merely amuse themselves with the expression of contrary opinion... Conformity then supplants awareness as the cornerstone of wisdom."
|Melmoth and Robbie|
|The Unpleasant End Of Mr. Melmoth|
The Cerebus storyline is even more uneventful. Cerebus, completely shell-shocked after coming back to Pud Withers burnt out place to find Jaka gone, presumed dead, is shown blankly clutching the smoke blackened doll Missy while paying for room and board in another inn for the rest of his life. It was
|Pictured: Half Of The Book.|
Cerebus finally snaps out of it when he hears two Cirinist soldiers boasting of their mistreatment of Jaka while she was in jail. He cuts them down in a blind rage, then we get a flashback to his mercenary days talking with Bear about how the Cirinists seem telepathically connected:
Bear: "They're women yeah...but they're like giant waddayacall hornets, like if you hurt one of 'em anywhere within miles of the others they all waddayacall feel it and they, you know swarm."
|Women, Bees, So Easy To Get Those Two Confused...|
Before we wave goodbye to this, strange, slightly pointless, grotesquely padded, non-adventure it's worth highlighting a couple of things Dave Sim says in the notes at the end of the book.
Dave Sim: "While I am not specifically a church goer, nor affiliated with any denomination or system of belief, I have appropriate respect for the Church of Rome and it's attendent Power and Mystery".
Dave Sim: "I could find no workable equivalent for 'jew' (sic) and didn't want a deluge of mail questioning the existence of Judaism in ancient Estarcion."
Remember these words, they'll be a test later on. Next up, the beginning of the "Mothers And Daughters" four book arc, and also the start of Dave Sim's swimming into more contentious waters. Oh it'll be such fun to talk about. But first, another guest appearence...