Cerebus: Church & State volume 1
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Cerebus 3: Church & State volume 1If the last Cerebus volume, High Society, was about politics, this book sees Sim getting his teeth squarely into religion. It is the first part of an epic 50-episode storyline that sees Cerebus' career elevated still further. Having been Prime Minister, the only way for Cerebus is up, and the next step up the political ladder in Cerebus' world is to become head of the church. Needless to say, Cerebus is far from interested in the role, but once in position and having seen the opportunity to make money, he takes up his duties with a certain sadistic relish.
Perhaps the most significant thing to happen in this volume is another artist taking over the backgrounds, leaving Sim to write the story and draw the characters. Gerhard is the perfect foil to Sim's caricatured characters, blending seamlessly into the architectural style of Sim's vision, to the point that you can barely remember the world without him. His buildings are as detailed as a draughtsman's but still manage to merge into the background, allowing Sim's characters room to stand out - something that simply didn't seem to happen when Sim was doing the lot.
This isn't a book you should consider embarking upon without hitting earlier stories first, but it sets the style for what's to come, both in terms of artwork and Cerebus' attitude to life. He's reached the pinnacle of his career, mostly by accident, but he's still a rough barbarian underneath and makes no effort to hide this. Simultaneously strong and weak, encouraged to believe in his own perfection while becoming increasingly tainted by power and the hunger for gold, Sim shows us that the path to power, whether you fight to get there or have it handed to you, is not a happy one. Oh, and did we mention the cliff hanger? Do yourself a favour and buy volume two while you're out shopping for this one...
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Cerebus 2: High Society
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Cerebus 4: Church & State Volume 2