Review: Church & State Vol. 2 (Cerebus Vol. 4)

July 17, 2009

Onward then; more brilliant (at times) writing mixed with surreal imagery…spoilers ahead…

From Wikipedia:

Cerebus returns to Iest’s Upper City and uses Weisshaupt’s cannons to destroy Thrunk and reclaim the papacy. Astoria has mysteriously killed the Western pope (“the Lion of Serrea”), and Cerebus must execute her for the crime in order to retain his papacy. Cerebus confronts her in a dungeon, and after being taunted by Astoria, he grants himself a divorce from Red Sophia, marries himself to Astoria, rapes her, and then divorces himself from her. Astoria’s trial, which echoes with similarities to a repeating pattern of historical executions of reformers, is interrupted when Cerebus makes the predicted Ascension to the Moon that is the culmination of the land’s religious prophecy. There, Cerebus meets the Judge, a timeless, godlike being who has watched over history from the very beginning. The Judge explains his version of the creation myth of Cerebus’s universe, before warning Cerebus that he will live only a few more years before dying “alone, unmourned and unloved.” The Judge tells Cerebus that if the Aardvark ever questions his suffering, he should remember his “second marriage” to Astoria. Cerebus then falls back to earth, where he discovers that the Cirinists have invaded, and his empire has collapsed.

I’m not too keen on the other aardvarks in the series.  Feels like lazy writing to me. That Suentius Po and Cirin are both aardvarks seems a little too convenient.

Church 2 C

Nice peek at some of the silly stuff that would lead to a schism in religious sects though…

Church 2 B

I do have to give Sim credit for his writing though – one never knows where he’s going to go with the narrative, especially when you get a guest star with the Flaming Carrot.*

Church 2 D

Coming to the rape scene (and in no way would I endorse such behavior in real people), it’s handled in a tasteful manner, and in no way do I sense Sim condoning the act – it merely happens in the narrative, organically through chacterization.

Here’s where he starts going overboard with the page layout (sorry, not adding a scan here – they’re difficult to read in the original form as it is), and with the rendering of dialect.  Now, I acknowledge he’s a master at this, but I’m starting to think he’s overdoing it when I have to stop reading in order to sound out the text to figure out what a character is saying.

Church 2 A

And the layout issues – forcing the reader to turn the book physically in order to read the pages – sorry dude, asinine.

It also feels like Sim is reaching with this book of the narrative – almost like he’s looking around for a big finish. The stuff with the Judge near the end of the volume especially – almost as if he’s exorcising some personal stuff through the medium.

* Look him up, kids.

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