Or – “Further Proof That Tom Grice Is WRONG, Sir!  WRONG!”

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Welcome to Bruce Otter Friday, the day where we do everything we can to steal away the disposable income of former comic fan, Bruce Otter!  I’ve always said that no one’s opinion can really be incorrect, as opinion is merely the statement of the facts as you’ve experienced them.  “I think that Actress X is attractive” is an opinion, with the only truly valid counter-statement being “I think Actress X is NOT attractive.”  A common problem comes when people mistake the statement “I think Actress X is not attractive” as interchangable with the statement “Actress X is not attractive.”  This is most emphatically NOT the case.  So when Tommy started needling me about his belief that Nexus “sucks,” I had to take it with a grain of salt.  Whatever issues of Nexus he may have read obviously didn’t work for him.  Luckily, we all know the aphorism regarding Tommy’s veracity, but what evidence exists to support MY opinion?

Previously, on Nexus: Horatio Valdemar Hellpop was chosen by an alien consciousness to serve as his executioner.  Given vast powers of energy manipulation, (called Nex1.jpg“fusionkasting”) Horatio became Nexus, but in return would occasionally receive a series of images in the form of debilitating nightmares of targets that his alien sugar-daddy The Merk wanted destroyed.  In a move that can be seen as either vastly ironic or purely sadistic, The Merk’s first targeted kill was Horatio’s own father, a former general guilty of horrible war crimes.  Even after that nightmarish maiden voyage, Horatio continued working for the Merk in order to keep his powers, the better to defend his new home of Ylum (pronounced Eye-lum) and his friends Dave of Thune, Judah The Hammer, his lady-love Sundra Peale, and Clonezone (an alligator-man who once killed with a joke.)  His adventures moved from Capital Comics, to First Comics, to Dark Horse comics, he lost and regained his powers, met Madman, fought Magnus the Robot Fighter, and has impregnated Sundra.  Under is reign, Ylum has become a center for immigrants of all types and races, a central hub for fugitives, be they financial, political, or otherwise.  But, as the story tells us, “beneath the smiling Ylum of color and light lies another Ylum.  Where evil plots murder…”

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Hugo there is a Thune, an ape-like race whose numbers include Nexus’ trusted advistor Dave and his fightin’ buddy Judah The Hammer.  The others are new to me, but their point is clear: the spawn of Horatio Hellpop must die.  As the yellow fellow (who I swear I should know, but can’t recall…  Maybe Bruce can help me, here?) swears vengeance because of his scarring, Hugo gives him a wilting look before SMASHING a chunk of rock out of the wall.  “FOOL!  Nexus killed your father and GRANDFATHER.  THAT’S why you are here!”  The mysterious crone refuses to answer questions regarding her motives, and grabs Hugo’s arm with a strength belying her frail form.  “In case your raging testosterone has affected your hearing, Hugo,I’ll repeat for ALL present… NO HARM shall come to the mother.”  Her grip seems to hurt him, and all three would-be assassins are left wonderg who she is.  As for Nexus himself, he’s currently worrying about becoming a father, as Sundra floats in the life-giving tank used for birthing on Ylum.

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I’m digging on Horatio’s “Captain Kirk” shirt, there.  Very striking…  The Alvinites and Elvonics are warring religious factions, one worshipping a god called Elvon, the other worshiping Alvin, with each sect considering the other blasphemous, and their god a cheap knockoff.  Leaving Jil and Gladys (the catwoman and the Thune, respectively) to take care of his lady, Nexus leaves with Tyrone (the blue guy, current elected president of Ylum) to modrate the Alvinite/Elvonic tensions.  When he arrives, the press is already on the scene, and an Elvonic woman holds her child, supposedly murdered by Alvinites.  The crowd is near eruption, and all it takes is one spark…

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Fusionkasting.  It’s not just for breakfast anymore.  Nexus’ exhibited abilities include super-strength, telepathy, telekinesis, energy absorption, matter creation, and occasional teleportation.  As the real power behind Ylum’s utopia, Nexus simply cuts to the heart of the matter.  “Abide by our rules… or LEAVE!  Living here is a privelege, not a right.”  The leader of the Elvonics tries to argue, claiming that his religious texts say they are native-born of Ylum, and that the Alvinites are the real problem.  Nexus tells him that if he continues to incite riots, natural-born or not, he’s out on his tuchus.  When Brother Wenceles (for that is the Elvonic’s name) starts to argue, Nexus simply gestures and the creature is silenced.  “Won’t he suffocate?” asks Tyrone, but even Horatio isn’t that cruel.  “No.  It only stops sound.  It will wear off…  in a few hours…  or days.”  Tyrone reminds him again that if Nexus would just sign Tyrone’s new Constitution, he wouldn’t have t keep doing this.  Back at the birthing tank, four assassins have arrived, only to fall prey to Jil and Gladys, who make extremely short work of them…

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Gladys is a riot, complaining that the would-be killer smashed her petit-fours.  Nexus reads the minds of the fallen idiots, only to find that they’re exhibiting “sudden Elvon syndrome,” whatever that is.  He doesn’t tell Gladys or Jil, though, instead deciding to watch over Sundra all by himself, for however long it takes.  She advises him to sleep, but Horatio still fears the nightmares of The Merk, and can’t relax as his enemies are everywhere.  “I am alone.  I have always been alone.  I WILL always be alone.”  As if to make a liar of him, a voice cries out, “Horatio…”

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Theodore Hellpop, Esquire, deadbeat dad, with the emphasis on ‘dead.’  As he collapses on the deck, Horatio is visited by the spectres of his “imaginary friends” Alph and Beta (actually constructs of The Merk himself) and rages that he killed them as well.  Firing fusion-blasts at them, it becomes clear that he is hallucinating, and Sundra beats on the tank trying to bring him back to reality.  Her telepathic cries finally pierce the haze in his mind, and she asks how long he’s been awake.  He doesn’t know how many days at this point, and Sundra insists that he get some rest.  Nexus waves off her worries, assuring her that nothing will get past him…

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Well, ALMOST nothing…  The last hyposile is inches away, but Ms. Peale is not without resources of her own, grasping it with her bare hands and holding it away from her swollen belly.  Horatio reaches in at the last possible second, and EATS the missile, seconds before it explodes in his throat.  Even the mighty Nexus is knocked own by this, and a powerful, lethal poison fills his form.  Nexus literally bursts into flame, muttering “Have to burn the poison out,” flaring like a man-shaped sun.  He comes out the other side, somwhat worse for wear, as the ladies return with snacks, flowers, and various sundries.  “Is it warm in here, or is it just me?” muses Gladys, and Nexus snaps that it’s just her.  Meanwhile, tensions between the factions continue to rise, as a doctored news report paints Nexus as a jackbooted super-thug, and the Elvonics march on and Alvinite stronghold, shooting Alvinites as they march.  Tyrone asks Nexus for support, but is given free reign to use his best judgement…

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“Will you?” asks the Elvonic leader…  “With the whole WEB watching?  Ylum will never recover from the bad press!”  Tyrone simply has the news crew arrested, and reiterates to the Elvonics.  “Two minutes.”  As Sundra goes into labor, the Elvonics refuse to move, and Tyrone refuses to back down.  The seconds count away, and at the precise moment that Sundra and Horatio’s son arrives, the Elvonist orders his people to kill the soldiers, and Tyrone orders his men to fire.  “Welcome, Harry,” says the newly-minted Papa Nexus…

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Birth and death, the circle of liiiiife…  Horatio’s hands are about to be full in a lot more ways than one, as his son is still a target, and I suspect that when he told Tyrone to use his own judgement, he expected it to be BETTER than that.  There’s open revolt on the streets of Ylum, and I suspect it’s going to get worse long before it ever gets better. 

This is the first issue of Nexus in something like a DECADE, and it’s quite good.  Writer Mike Baron has a knack for explaining the important bits while letting minor things slide.  We know that the assassins have old grudges against Nexus, we know that the mysterious crone is up to no good, we know that something wicked this way comes…  I do, however, see how it could all be very daunting to a Nexus newcomer, and wonder if it’s going to work against the title in the long run.  Steve Rude is…  Steve #&$@ingRude.  His women are gorgeous (even Gladys has a peculiar beauty) his work is very clear and simple to read, without being cartoon shorthand.  Sundra, in particular, is hotter than donut grease, and the shots of Nexus in uniform are awesome to behold.  With the legendary Alex Toth as his touchstone, the Dude’s art has seldom looked better.  My real complaint comes from the seeming shortness of the issue, racing by, and giving me what feels like a less-than-satisfying chunk of story.  It’s a mild case of first issue syndrome in an above average book, and Nexus #99 still rates 3 out of 5 stars, with the hopes that people will be able to embrace the title and keep Nexus continually on the stands for the foreseeable future.

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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9 Comments

  1. Tom Grice
    July 13, 2007 at 10:09 am — Reply

    This is your forum, and that is fine. I accept that in your world, I am always wrong. Cool. But I challenge anyone to read this review, look at the art, story, NAMES, logic (or lack thereof) in the narrative, the coloring, etc. and explain to me why this book gets THREE STARS and Outsiders recieved 2.5. I stand by my original point, and having read your review REALLY believe it now. This book SUCKS!

  2. July 13, 2007 at 11:07 am — Reply

    I challenge anyone to read this review, look at the art, story, NAMES, logic (or lack thereof) in the narrative, the coloring, etc. and explain to me why this book gets THREE STARS and Outsiders recieved 2.5.

    The actual critical reasons why:

    1. Nexus left me with a dual feeling of dread (at Tyrone’s actions) and elation (at the birth of Horato and Sundra’s child.) Outsiders left me vaguely disgusted that YET AGAIN a villain does something reprehensible and gets away, leaving two of the major players badly injured, with a slightly mitigating factor that Papa Batman is here to fire half the team and make it all better. That emotional gut-response is usually what defines the star rating.

    2. Nexus didn’t have a full-page ad that undermined the NEXT FIVE ISSUES of the story, irritating me at DC for either trying to swerve me or once again giving secrets away ahead of time for no reason. Without that stupid ad, Outsiders would probably have scored HIGHER than Nexus.

    3. You may not like Steve Rude’s art, and that’s your right, but his action sequences are brilliantly designed, (like the missile attack on Sundra) reminding me of Kirby (in the first Elvonite/Alvinist confrontation ending in Nexus breaking it up telekinetically) and Toth (the confrontation between Tyrone and the Alvonites) as well as exhibiting striking design work (in the first shot where Horatio is in street clothes.)

    It wasn’t my intent to pull your chain (Well, okay, maybe a LITTLE) with this review, but the gist is this: Nexus is a strange sci-fi political story with tortured emotional psychobabble barely wrapped up in a superhero facade. It may not be your thing, you may not ever want it to be your thing. And that is absolutely your right…

    But there’s fine line between “I don’t like it” and “It’s not good.” I don’t like Ed Brubaker’s Daredevil, but that’s really no reflection on the book. It’s just my take on it. You and I have had a lot of comic discussions, and I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that this is a case where you don’t like either the creator or the concept, and the next issue could be practically Shakespearian and come with six weeks of free Jenna Jameson oral action, and it wouldn’t trip your trigger. Maybe a man in a blue suit with a lighning bolt on it beat you as a child, I dunno. Regardless, by my own argument, your opinion is valid.

    But I reserve the right to disagree, and I think this is a quality book.

  3. Adam
    July 13, 2007 at 11:20 am — Reply

    I don’t want to get in the middle of anything, but I believe that I’ve seen ‘Tom Grice Is WRONG, Sir! WRONG!” a good handful of times, and I have no idea what it means. Therefore, I nominate it for the next entry into the Major Spoilers Dictionary.

  4. Mark I.
    July 13, 2007 at 11:37 am — Reply

    Reminds you of Kirby? I got more of a Giffen vibe…

  5. July 13, 2007 at 12:29 pm — Reply

    Major Spoilers Dictionary

    “Tom Grice is WRONG, Sir! WRONG!” – Statement of mockery towards Tom Grice (see Appendix) indicating disagreement with his point of view or general intent to bust balls. Designed to mimic the tone and phrasing of Gene Wilder’s performance as Willy Wonka during the climactic scene of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Sometimes followed with “You STOLE Fizzy Lifting Drinks! You bumped into the ceiling, with now has to be WASHED and STERILIZED, so you get NOTHING! YOU LOSE! GOOD DAY, SIR!” Occasional additional retort of “I SAID GOOD DAY!” optional.

    Appendix: Tom Grice – Born 1972, Midwestern comic store manager, known for being outspoken in his opinions and acerbic in his humor. Known as “The Earth-1 Matthew” and occasionally “Ultra Tommy,” has a comic pull list that can be seen from space. Though often very thoughtful in his opinions, he is nonetheless WRONG, Sir! WRONG!

  6. July 13, 2007 at 12:34 pm — Reply

    Reminds you of Kirby? I got more of a Giffen vibe…

    Giffen’s action sequences are very reminiscent of Kirby, and an overt Kirby influence can be seen in his early work on Defenders… So, yes, I agree with you. :)

  7. July 13, 2007 at 1:54 pm — Reply

    Even a new Madman book was ultimately unable to get me to a comic shop.
    Nexus #99. . .Let me get my checkbook. My favorite comic of ALL TIME returns. I think I’ll head over to All C’s Collectibles and reserve this book. Now instead of a pull list that can’t be seen with a scanning electron microscope, I will have one that can be seen from across a table.

    I think (see opening paragraph of review) the Dude is simply the best penciller ever. One of the best things about Nexus(as a creator owned title) is that in over 20+ years of intermittent publication, the book has never succumbed to trendy art styles. It always looks like Steve Rude on Nexus, and nothing else, which, for me, has led to a really consistent fictional world. During the First series a few guest artists did stints on the books (because Rude isn’t an especially fast penciller) but for the most part is has been Baron and Rude’s baby.

  8. Baal
    July 14, 2007 at 1:03 am — Reply

    I read maybe one third of the original Nexus series and I had no problems following what was going on. Maybe I didn’t know all thenames but thanks to the art and writing I knew the important things to the story. If I win the lottery, screw buying my mom a house. I’d underwrite Nexus for life!

  9. Jonathan
    August 6, 2007 at 3:49 pm — Reply

    Back when we were kids we could pick up an issues of a comic and work out what was going on, without having to start 200 issues earlier. Give Nexus a chance! it’s ace!

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