The Next Nexus: written by Mike Baron; illustrated by Steve Rude (1989): This compilation of the Nexus miniseries of the same name from 1989 arrives from a time when comics companies weren’t entirely sure what to put in their ‘graphic novel’ collections for the American market — or, frankly, what to charge for them. This First Comics album would be a couple of bucks more than the individual issues. Why? I don’t entirely know.
It’s an enjoyable story for someone who had followed writer Mike Baron and artist Steve Rude’s Nexus superhero space-opera serial for the previous decade. But it’s not really a standalone story, and it doesn’t exactly have an ending. The miniseries should probably have simply been part of the normal run of Nexus, which Rude wasn’t drawing at the time. Complications, complications.
So as it’s out of print and not the greatest introduction to the Nexus series, I’m not sure how to review it. It’s great fun, and Rude’s art is really at its late-1980’s peak here. We get a nice look at the societies of the far future. Baron’s writing is sharp and observant. Rude’s art mixes up the superheroic and the comedic with elan: there’s really still no one quite like him in comc books, and Nexus gave him the broad canvas to shine in a way that normal superhero books never did and never have.
The ‘real’ Nexus isn’t Nexus at this point in the narrative, which means we have the de rigeur scenes of former Nexus Horatio Hellpop moping around and being noble now that he’s no longer in charge of executing mass murderers across the galaxy at the whim of a hyper-powerful alien known as The Merk. A number of sub-plots from the main series play through the miniseries, making me wonder if this really was supposed to be four issues of the main series. So it goes. Great Goulessarian! Recommended for Nexus readers.