Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Original Nexus Graphic Novel
Mike Baron and Steve Rude
First Comics, $6.95, 1985

Nexus has always been one of those series that I'd always heard about, but never got the chance to try. When I found this GN on sale a few days ago I decided to give it a go. This volume apparently, it wasn't very clear, collects the early black and white issues of the series run when it was at the defunct Capital City Publications.

Nexus has an interesting approach early on, distancing the reader from its lead Nexus by having others take on the narrative role and thus only allowing the reader to be an observer to his actions.

Which gives the character a real edge to him. His role of an executioner of some of the most notorious killers and dictators is made unique because of his seemingly complete emotional distance from his actions.

He isn't doing these things for revenge, justice or sense of altruism as heroic leads tend to do. Nor is he doing it for power, thrills or the like as most adventurers. He does it for one reason alone, to be rid of the internal pain.

While only partly explained so far in these early issues, as the book nears the end it starts dipping into what makes Nexus tick through the telling of his origins to an attractive female reporter/love interest.

Apparently to make amends for sins of his father, Nexus is haunted by dreams of the death and suffering of beings across the universe. These dreams bring him great pain and a target he must eliminate in order to have the pain stop for a while, along with the power to do so.

This makes him a more interesting lead than most, because he really isn't a heroic figure in a lot of respects. He's not an evil person, he allows those who he's helped or might be in danger because of his actions to return with him to his moon base. Yet he is quite cold and distant from everyone, and has no overriding compunction to eliminate evil that he isn't driven by his dreams to. As shown when he allows a dictator to live when faced with an opportunity to end his reign.

The mystery of his origin still has lot of explorations left, yet his future is just as compelling. I wonder where things go next and whether Nexus could ever lose the dreams and the pain they bring in order to lead a more normal life. Then I wonder if he possibly should given how much he meand to the universe.

Rude's art has that classic epic feel, that brings that bigger than life universe to life in wonderful detail. Along with compelling emotional details to the quieter character moments as well. His art is clean and beautiful, without all of the unnecessary lines that a lot of artists even today seem to feel the need to add to add weight to their art.

I found the afterword by Baron to be interesting, especially his talk in the back of how hard it is to get readers to try new books and characters even when most of the standard mainstream superhero comics were doing little more than retelling the same stories. This was way back in 1985, but still holds true to this day in the direct market comic marketplace.

I really hope I can find more trades of this series soon, as I want to read more. Any Nexus fans out there that can clue me into how much further, and how many trades, this series ran?


Dave said...

Nexus ran for 80 issues, then after First comics folded is was picked up by Dark Horse for several miniseries.

Announced last month, Dark Horse is set to issue trade collections starting in November, collecting the old stuff from the beginning.

James Schee said...

Cool! So I'm finding it at the right time then!

Now if the American Flagg and Grimjack trades would hurry up and get out so I can check them out.

Thanks for the info!

Dave said...

The first Grimjack trade is already out...

I think it's very cool that many of the old First Comics titles are coming back, both in reprints and in new material. Now if only we could do the same for some of the old Eclipse stuff (Miracleman, I'm talking to you!)

bob said...

Kind of jealous, you finding the graphic novel. I've never seen it or the original magazine-sized issues it reprints.

The Dark Horse reprints are going to be $50 hardcovers, so you might not want to wait for them unless you really like it. You might prefer to see if you can get the existing trades, two of which collect the first 10 issues of the on-going Capital/First series and one which collects the Dark Horse ALIEN JUSTICE miniseries (aka #82-#84, but don't try to think too hard about Nexus numbering). I think there was also a collection of the NEXT NEXUS miniseries, too.

(search for Nexus on the Dark Horse website to get a look at most of those)

James Schee said...

Dave, cool as I have the Grimjack trade (and the American Flagg ones) on order from DCBS so hopefully I'll get to read it soon.

Bob, I was very surprised to find it as I was looking through a bookshelf at a comic shop near Houston. Some friends had told me about the series but I'd never had the chance to try it until I saw that.

Thanks for the tip on what to look for. $50 is a bit too steep for me, especially since I just noticed that a locl shop has a bunch of the trades anyway. (though not the first one which is odd)