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Cerebus: FlightWith this book we see the beginning of the second half of the Cerebus series, which was devised as a finite epic of 300 chapters. Looking back over the previous books it becomes hard to visualise the simple fantasy pastiche that started it off, as we're now faced with complicated story structures, more prose than traditional comic dialogue and a complex set of characters to sit alongside the caricatures.
This volume starts off with a fragmented series of sub-plots from previous books, binds them all together, and ends with a crushing climax to carry you on to the next book in the collection. The disparate start of the story makes for a complicated read that's worth tackling in as few sittings as possible, especially if you've got a short memory, as the different story strands can flit around a bit at first. Perseverance is the key, perhaps with the odd recap from the beginning of the book as you make your way through.
Cerebus is portrayed as a prophet of masculine pride against the matriarchal government. By fulfilling prophecies he forces the wheels of fate to start a slow grind into motion. Fate and intervention play central thematic roles throughout the story, twisting and binding with each other as much as the characters and the narrative.
Sim doesn't shy away from making his characters as complex as his stories and themes, which invariably means that there's light and dark sides to all of them. The leaders of the matriarchal world Cerebus is rebelling against are as capable of abuses of power as any dictatorship, as Cerebus attempts to split a struggle for control into a battle of the sexes. As a thesis on power, corruption and the continued link between church and state, Flight makes for fascinating reading.
Most of all though, the book is set against a backdrop of Cerebus' own internal power struggle: a race against the hands of fate as he struggles to become omnipotent, the living version of a god to whom he has yet to prove his worth. His determination knows no bounds, while his belief in his own abilities and some ancient prophecies is enough to keep him going. But can a man (or in this case, an aardvark) really become a god?
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Cerebus 6: Melmoth
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Cerebus 8: Women