Saturday, February 4, 2017

Cerebus the Aardvark - Melmoth

Melmoth was the poet/writer from Jaka's Story who presented to the reader Jaka's childhood, as related to him by Rick, Jaka's husband. He's loosely based on Oscar Wilde, although the events in this volume are lifted largely from correspondence between Oscar and his associates at the end of Oscar's life. Jaka's Story ended with Melmoth's arrest for writing fiction without an artistic license, and his subsequent imprisonment on a 2-year sentence. In this volume, Melmoth has been released from prison, but he looks 20 years older, and his health is fading fast, spurred on by his insistence on drinking too much. Most of the story concerning him is told by the people closest to him as they try to raise money to pay for his doctors.

At the same time, Cerebus is in shock. He arrives at the same town Melmoth is at, and he spends his days on the patio of a cafe, and his nights in a room he's paid for in the same building. He gave the owner a gold crown, which pretty much is more money than the guy has seen before in his life, so he decides to have the place remodeled. Cerebus had found Jaka's doll, and he's hugging it as if it were Jaka herself. In the end, a pair of Cirinist soldiers arrive at the cafe, and one brags about being the dungeon guard that had been in charge of Jaka while she was a prisoner there. When she laughs about ripping some of Jaka's hair off, Cerebus kills her in a rage, then is forced to flee as every other Cirinist in the city gets alerted and runs out to cut him down.

If you're familiar with the life of Oscar Wilde (who had taken the pseudonym Melmoth at one point), then you'll either love or hate this book (either because you agree with Dave Sim's interpretation of events, or want to argue them loudly). If you're a Cerebus fan, you may be disappointed that Cerebus is still not the central character again. Still, it's a great book, the story flows fast, and the artwork is fantastic. Highly recommended.

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