Nexus: The Origin
by Mike Baron & Steve ‘The Dude’ Rude
Some comic-reading history first. I got the bug in my teens, in the mid-to-late ’80s, reading superhero comics, like most other people. For me, it was the X-books; I couldn’t get enough Claremont and mutant soap opera. However, by my early 20s, at the start of the ’90s, I was beginning my journey into the world of ‘other’ comic books: non-superhero comics, indies, even, gulp, black & white books. It was a journey of discovery that led me to the wider world of comics, and this book was supposed to be an in-road.
This book was published by Dark Horse in 1992, after unwrangling some of the legal difficulties of the ownership rights. Nexus was one of the great indie successes, starting at Capital before 80 monthly issues at First Comics, before they went tits up. This story was the introduction to the world of Nexus and the amazing art of The Dude. I wasn’t going to start tracking down an independent with 80 issues to go through, so this seemed like a perfect sampler.
Nexus is ‘the cosmic avenger, the reluctant executioner’, an ordinary man given extraordinary powers and haunting dreams about the most despicable beings in the universe, handing out summary justice on them. This story tells the full backstory to his family, how his father was a genocidal army officer who destroyed an entire world, even though he married a woman from the planet and fathered Nexus. It is a strong tale, told well, despite the obviousness of the stand-in bad guys (Sovs and some rather blatant Nazi-types), and the fact that Nexus is essentially a superhero, albeit with a great costume.
The magic here is the art. The Dude can draw something fierce. The art is beautiful in itself, and is powerful and stunningly designed. The visual sense is strong, the singular, easily identifiable style of Rude a feast for the eyes, the soft lines underpinning the dynamic feel. It is quite something. However, this glimpse isn’t enough to make me dig through the back-issue bins; I know I’m probably missing out on something quite special, but it’s a decision with which I’ll try to live.