The saga began way back in 1977: a modest, self-published parody of Conan the Barbarian, whose protagonist was a megalomaniacal aardvark given to delusions of grandeur. Three hundred issues later, we can recognize the singular achievement that is Cerebus -- a 6,000-plus-page graphic novel that is by turns brilliant, sanctimonious, hilarious, insightful, and offensive. Not unlike Cerebus creator Dave Sim.
Over the past 27 years, Sim generated waves of controversy for occasionally shoving his character off stage and inserting himself into the story to examine whatever social, sexual, political, or religious thorns were stuck in his side. Cerebus wavers precariously between comic book and Document of Important Existential Observation.
This issue is the last, delivered on schedule. It is no surprise that Cerebus dies alone, ''unmourned and unloved'' -- this fate was declared fairly early in his journey. But does he meet his end in a way befitting a character who stubbornly resisted any significant personal growth for 300 issues? Let's just say that Cerebus' finale is distinctly appropriate. Readers can catch up on any part of Sim's epic experiment in phone-book-size collections that are perpetually in print. The final volume will be available in June.