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Cerebus: MelmothDeath and loss are universal themes in literature, and this short (by Cerebus standards) story covers both. In it we follow the last few days of Oscar Wilde, introduced in a previous volume, as he slowly dies in his hotel room. Intertwined in the story we also see Cerebus mourning the loss of Jaka, the woman he's loved for most of the series, who he now believes to be dead.
Wilde's death is mostly documented in the form of a correspondence between two of his closest confidantes. Despite the fictional setting and a little artistic licence, the text is largely drawn from real letters written by Wilde's companions. This creates a fascinating dissection of the minds of these Victorian men and the way they cope with the loss.
The contrast in Cerebus' attitude to Jaka is quite pronounced. Never an aardvark of many words, our furry friend is monosyllabic and withdrawn, barely connecting with the world around him beyond his constant clutch of Jaka's childhood doll.
Sim has divided the sections beautifully, with the Wilde sections looking like a storybook with large illustrations and blocks of text. In contrast, the parts where he focuses on Cerebus are sparsely worded but laden with emotional illustration. And as always, Gerhard's backgrounds are beautifully rendered.
Melmoth is a tragic book superbly executed. The shorter length (a mere 250 pages) suits the subject perfectly - a breath of fresh air after the literal weight of earlier volumes. This is a thoughtful, literary book, with intertwining plots, that is nothing less than a pleasure to read.
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Cerebus 5: Jaka's Story
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Cerebus 7: Flight