Thursday, September 13, 2012

Execution and Remorse

Nexus: Nightmare in Blue: written by Mike Baron; illustrated by Steve Rude and Gary Martin (1997): Nexus, that jolliest and jauntiest of comic book series about a brooding, 25th-century, human executioner of mass murderers, has now been around, in fits and starts, for about thirty years. Thirty years! And it now seems to be back at Dark Horse Comics again, after more than a decade in the self-published wilderness. This calls for hyperspeed!

Creators Mike Baron and Steve Rude have always done their best work together on Nexus. Here, in what I believe was the last Dark Horse miniseries prior to a lengthy hiatus and a brief flirtation with self-publishing, Nexus looks somewhat unusual in black and white, though he did start off his adventures in B&W with Capital Comics lo these many years gone. There's some brooding, some cosmic space-opera action, some developments in Nexus's relationship with long-term partner Sundra Peale, and a host of political shenanigans on the inhabitable moon called Ylum.

I wouldn't recommend this as a starting place -- for that, I'd say go to the actual starting place in either single issues or collected editions, if you can find them, and immerse yourself in the greatest superhero/space-opera mash-up comic book ever created.

Baron's writing is sharp here, in any case, and Steve Rude continues to showcase his oddly retro ability to combine cosmic action, heroic poses, and near-funny-animal cartooning into a potent blend. Nobody draws aliens like Rude. Or guys with a rocket instead of one foot. Recommended.

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