Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Weird Heroes Redux

Nexus: Into the Past and Other Stories: written by Mike Baron and Steve Rude; illustrated by Steve Rude (2012-2014; collected 2015): The latest group of stories that continue Mike Baron and Steve Rude's Nexus universe sends Nexus back in time to the 21st century in pursuit of a serial killer he's already executed twice, Clayborn. Meanwhile, back at home on the planet Ylum, partner Sundra and son Harry deal with all the problems of Ylum's fractious immigrant population. But as baby Harry is one of Clayborn's targets, things at home won't stay home for long.

Slightly impenetrable at times when it comes to just who certain characters are (Clayborn and Zanzibar being the main problems, along with location The Library). Hey, it's been a long time since I read many of the stories being referenced. But the narrative establishes the characters' personalities and agendas pretty well over the course of a 100+ pages. The ending was originally meant to be the ending for the series, but events have already brought the adventures of Nexus into the world of Kickstarter. So... never the end? Recommended.

Attack on Titan Volume 4: written and illustrated by Hajami Isayama and others; translated by Sheldon Drzka (2011/ This translated edition 2013): The present-day events of the narrative book-end a lengthy tour several years into the past of our young, giant-fighting protagonists. Politics and culture are sketched in more fully. And the flashback contextualizes some of the deaths we've seen over the first three volumes. Pretty essential in sequence -- and some much-needed explanation of how those 3-D maneuvering harnesses work. Recommended.

The Twelve: written by J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston; illustrated by Chris Weston and Gary Erskine (2008, 2012/Collected 2012): Penciller/inker Chris Weston and inker Gary Erskine do terrific work in The Twelve. They give the world of these Golden Age super-heroes dropped unexpectedly into their future (and the Marvel Universe's present) a weight and an emotionality that serves the project well. 

There are certainly many nods to Watchmen here, but the story is more low-key than Watchmen and occasionally trapped in the stereotypes it seeks to explode. Contact with Marvel's current superheroes doesn't really occur in the main story, though the 1945-set "Spearhead," written and illustrated by Weston, puts The Twelve in the thick of things with Marvel's more famous 1940's heroes. 

There are some storytelling problems caused by having The Twelve set in the normal Marvel universe. A couple of the super-heroes have origins that other heroes feel are too odd to be true. But this being the Marvel Universe, and not a more realistic milieu, it's hard to see any one 'fake' origin as being goofier than the 'real' one offered up afterwards. Recommended.

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