CerebusCerebus the Aardvark is an institution in comics. Destined to span across 25 years of its creator Dave Sim's life and still going strong, it's a wonder it ever got off the ground. This is the first volume of the collected works, containing the first 25 episodes of the monthly series.
Despite being a short, furry and loveable looking creature, Cerebus is actually an accomplished mercenary, virtually unbeatable in a fair fight. He hungers for money beyond most other things, to fuel his insatiable appetite for gambling and booze. Despite referring to himself in the third person, Cerebus is a shrewd cookie, who only fails in his aim of earning enough money to get and stay unhealthily drunk due to his reliance on, and interest in, the incredible array of idiots he manages to surround himself with.
Many characters appear in this book who will later become key to the whole Cerebubs epic, so it's worth starting here, even if the early pace takes a while to ramp up. It's well worth getting past these earlier stories as the improvement in quality made further into the book is enormous. By the time you get to the end of this volume, you should be well and truly attached to Cerebus.
The supporting characters are generally caricatures of some form or another, including superheroes, fantasy characters, politicians and comedic actors. It doesn't take Sim long to yank Cerebus from a simple Conan the Barbarian pastiche to layering the stories with a multitude of levels. However, most of the stories here are firmly set in a fantasy world of swords and sorcery.
The look of Cerebus is developed early in the book, with the extra-long snout of the first few issues soon disappearing, giving Cerebus a 'cuter' look that sits uneasily (if comically) with his strength and ferocity. Despite operating in a world of humans, few of the other characters even mention the fact that they're conversing with a grey furry aardvark, except one who presumes he is a child in a rabbit suit. The reader also soon learns to ignore the fur and concentrate on the personality underneath.
The following Cerebus books take us onto greater things than this first introductory volume can offer and it isn't completely necessary to read this one before appreciating the others. We'd recommend it though because of the early introduction to all the cameo characters appearing in this volume. This isn't a disappointing place to start and anyone feeling like they might be interested in getting a grip on the Cerebus series should certainly start here.
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Next in series
Cerebus 2: High Society