Nexus Archives v.11
Written by Mike Baron
Pencilled by Mark Heike, John K. Snyder III, Luke McDonnell & Hugh Haynes
Inked by Heike, Jay Geldhof, Jeff Albrecht, Tom Baxa, John Robinson & Arne Starr
Colored by Les Dorscheid
Lettered by Clem Robins & Kevin Cunningham
Original covers by Heike; Snyder III & Geldhof; Angel Medina, Bob Dvorak & Ian Tetrault; Dorscheid; Haynes & Baxa; and Paul Sonju & Steven Butler
Published by Dark Horse
The intolerance of the Elvonic religious order reaches fever pitch in the eleventh volume of the Nexus Archives, which collects issues sixty-six through seventy-three of Baron and Rude’s Nexus. Even back in 1990, devotional zealotry fascinated Baron, and the issues of how such an order can fit into a peace-minded, democratic society are at the forefront in this selection of stories.
Stan’s slide into insanity, prodded by the persecutions of the Elvonics and his own considerable ego, reaches the greased-up, ninety-degree slope portion of the ride, and even in collected form, the cliffhanger at the end of v.11 should leave regular Nexus readers breathless.
Like v.10, this volume of Nexus Archives feels more interested in the ins and outs of the Nexus universe, less committed to the bigger moral quandaries Baron explored earlier in the series. The religious elements certainly demand serious thought, though most of the Elvonics seen here are extremist, with only one brief wisp of a scene offering a rational perspective from among the faithful. Overall, the story remains engaging, but the questions of tolerance and societal good (while present) don’t hit as hard as Baron’s best Nexus scripts.
Without Steve Rude, v.11 is an artistic mixed bag. John K. Snyder, whose issue seems reviled among Nexus fandom, provides one of the most visually striking installments. Blocky and crazed, the chapter doesn’t resemble the sleekness of Steve Rude’s pages in the slightest, but in another sense, it’s one of the best issues and truest to the series’ artistic ambitions. The pages are laid out effectively and the emotional thrust of the story is carried with class. Snyder, like Rude, offers a peculiarly stylized vision of Nexus, but Snyder’s personal tact on the book stands out among the tepid, middle-of-the-road artists who surrounded him during this era.
While it doesn’t quite match the heights of its glory days, the stories in Nexus Archives v.11 still offer readers the most ambitious and challenging superhero comic around. Religious allegory, thoughtful universe-building, big action, and plus character work always make for solid entertainment, and Nexus delivers on that every time.
Judah the Hammer backups
Written by Ian Carney, Roger Salick, Steven Kaye, Roland Mann & Peter David
Pencilled by Tom Baxa & Kent Burles
Inked by John Robinson, Baxa, Burles & Sam Grainger
Colored by Les Dorscheid & Ian Tetrault
Lettered by Kevin Cunningham, Diane Valentino & Teresa Davidson
Again, while the Hammer back-up tales aren’t extraordinarily memorable, this collection of issues features one of the better arcs, a six-part relay-written story. Each of the five scribes picks up from the previous writer’s cliffhanger and continues the tale in their own fashion, with Roger Salick handling the opening and closing installments. It’s not the best story you’ll read, but it’s entertaining and a clever writing exercise. Kent Burles provides consistent artwork for all six chapters.