Saturday, 10 May 2014

Cerebus Zero (#51, #112/113 and #137/138)

"Nothing ever goes right" - Cerebus

A short one today. Cerebus Zero is a compilation of the five "in between" issues, #51 (Between High Society and Church and State), #112/113 (Between Church and State and Jaka's Story) and #137/138 (Between Jaka's Story and Melmoth).  These are issues that didn't quite fit either plotwise or tonally to be attached the major arcs of the story they once they were to be compiled into trade paperbacks.

#51 - "Exodus" - is a comedic tribute to the Marx Brothers film "A Night At The Opera", Lord Julius, Duke Leonardi, Elrod, The Roach and an ex-cabinet minister all end up crammed into a small room on a ship with an increasingly angry Cerebus, check out this Youtube link for the original hilarious scene it's riffing from.  When a huge load of potatos get dumped on them as well, he makes his escape before the ship leaves, off to the pub we see him at the start of Church and State I.   It's an enjoyable frippery, but I can se why it was left off the end of High Society, giving that arc a "clean" ending with Cerebus deaprting The Regency.  And it wouldn't have fitted very well at the start of Church and State either.  As with the other issues here, this isn't a problem when you are reading month to month, but when the arcs are compiled into books the starts and ends need to feel right and so trimming the odd issue is somewhat forgivable.

Cerebus, Lord Julius and Elrod discuss politics

 #112/113 - "Square One" - has Cerebus returning to the ruined hotel at the end of Church and State where Cerebus goes to collect his few possessions.  I've praised Dave Sims mastery of sequential flow before and these issues are a prime example of his craft.  The panels lead us slowly through the hotel, showing us Cerebus' genuine sadness at all he has lost, both people and possessions and there is no dialogue until the very end.  Most notable is Cerbus contemplating snd nearly committing suicide, which he does again at a later date as well.  Haunted by The Judges words that "you will die alone.. unmourned and unloved."  According to Dave Sim's notes this was seriously considered being added to later printings of Church and State II.  But I think that book ends more dramatically and satispfyingly with the full page shot of Cerebus outside the ruined hotel.

"Hmm, maybe I Shouldn't have Done That Rape.."
#137/138 - "Like-a-Looks" - This is another comedic pair of issues that definitely would jar moodwise attached to either the end of Jaka's Story or the start of Melmoth, both of those are melancholy in tone and this silliness wouldn't fit at all.  During Jaka's Story, Lord Julius showed up in a dress briefly and chatted with Oscar.  Well it wasn't the real Lord Julius, it was a Like-a-Look, used for when it's too dangerous for the real Lord Julius to attend.  The two issues look at what happens when all the doubles met up and forget who is the real Lord Julius, with plenty of joking around.  And it's Lord Julius' last major role in the grand narrative, he's relagated to cameos after this.

I Wonder What The Collecitve Noun For Them Would Be?

Nothing vital to the main storyline is revealed in these issues. Three issues are simply enjoyable fluff, hardly essential.  For me the two mainly dialogue free issues are the best, telling us a story with just Cerebus' expressions. That said Cerebus Zero is really for completists only.


  1. And you are nothing if not a completist :-D

  2. I should jolly well say so. Though I think I may give the post-Cerebus stuff a miss, if only because I can't stomach Dave Sim's politics anymore.