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Book Review < Back

Cerebus: High Society

Credits: Written and Illustrated by Dave Sim
Publisher: Aardvark Vanaheim


He's not real bright but a bunch of rich people decide to use him to get richer. There's a lot of high-minded talk about helping the common man, but really it's all about widening the gap between the classes. There's an election covered in fraud, a race too close to call... and the moment our hero takes the reigns of power, he's itching to start his first war.

This is fiction, right?

HIGH SOCIETY is a book I take down from my shelf once or twice a year to re-read, thumbing through the copy I bought in college (instead of a week's groceries). But in this most recent re-reading, I realized it had actually been some time since I'd strolled through its pages. I'm not certain I've read it since the Dubya Bush election. The parallel certainly hadn't occurred to me until now. But there it is, like the start of a horrible joke: "So this ignorant barbarian walks into a bar..." and, well, he gets handed a nation he did nothing to deserve.

Strictly speaking, HIGH SOCIETY is a sequel, a Part Two. And it's true that a lot of characters appear in HIGH SOCIETY that were introduced in the first volume of CEREBUS. But HIGH SOCIETY is the stronger tale, and the better work (especially when you factor in the vast improvements in Dave Sim's art during this time) and really, there's only a few threads from the first volume that appear completely free of context or explanation. Its comedy is stronger -- more subtle, more thought-out in places, and just plain more fall-down slapstick funny in others -- but it also has a seriousness that the first volume entirely lacks. It may seem like more adventures of a squat grey barbarian aardvark on its surface, but at its core, it's a love poem to the confused mess that is electoral politics. And who doesn't love an electoral mess these days? So try starting with HIGH SOCIETY and if you find yourself wondering where all these crazy and marvelous characters came from, then go check out the first volume.

And, if you're lucky enough to live somewhere that allows you to vote, do so the very next opportunity you get.

-- Dan Curtis Johnson


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