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Review: Jaka’s Story (Cerebus Vol. 5)

July 22, 2009

And now up to this volume – which I have to admit, is one hell of a piece of writing (aside from the tonal shifts that I write about below)…

From Wikipedia –

Under a brutal Cirinist dictatorship, the fallen Cerebus runs into Jaka again. She is illegally working as a dancer in her landlord (Pud’s) tavern; he treats Jaka kindly but secretly spends his days lusting after her. Cerebus agrees to live with Jaka and her husband Rick as their houseguest. That story is interwoven with unreliable tales of Jaka’s childhood told by a writer, representing Oscar Wilde, using notes and stories provided by Rick. In the end Cerebus disguises himself and travels to the Lower City; while he is gone, the Cirnists find the tavern, kill Pud, and arrest Jaka, Rick, and Oscar. Jaka is made to sign a confession of immoral behavior, and is reunited with Rick; however, the Cirinists reveal to Rick that Jaka aborted the son that Rick always wanted. He lashes out at Jaka and is allowed to divorce her (although he is maimed for striking her). Jaka returns to Palnu, and Cerebus returns to the inn to find it in ruins.

While reading this, I started to think, Well – he’s starting to lose interest in Cerebus.

Most of the characterization I found interesting was focused on characters who were not-Cerebus: Pud (who Sim wrote in sympathy to “much of the comics-reading community” due to his repressed sexuality. (more than a grain of truth to that characterization, Mr. Sim – kudos).

Jaka 2

The Oscar Wilde stand-in, Oscar…

 Jaka 1

The really well-done scene between Jaka, Rick, and the Cirinist inquisitor Mrs. Thatcher…

Jaka 3

And some characters who are hanging over Sim like albatrosses – for one, Lord Julius. Fun as far as he goes, but when he keeps recurring as a character antagonist to someone we’re supposed to care about – Jaka – the effect for me was jarring.

In fact, the turn-on-a-dime tonal shifts of this graphic novel (this being part five of same) do really grate. I understand that Sim supposedly had the whole thing planned out, but the tonal shifts seems to be telling a different story.

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