Thursday, September 19, 2013

Artifacts Of Ylum!

I've tried to live a life with few regrets, but when it comes to reading comics, one regret I have for certain is that I did not keep up with Steve Rude's and Mike Baron's Nexus series as it rambled across the comics medium. This rather adult and sometimes sardonic re-imagining of the classic Space Ghost character for a harder, meaner universe has a lot to offer.

I was all in for Nexus from almost the beginning, starting with the second magazine-sized black and white issue from Capitol Comics. I pretty quickly nabbed the debut sporting its decidedly awesome Paul Gulacy cover image, and it was off.

The origin of Nexus is one of the best in comics. He's a driven, nearly mad protagonist who slays mass murderers, himself being the son of one such villain. He grew up isolated and alone save for some possibly imaginary alien friends on a the moon Ylum and became empowered in ways both frightening and even to him mysterious. Great, great premise -- a sleek spaceship arrives unexpectedly and a handsome and enigmatic figure emerges to confront some killer with his crimes and deliver judgment and punishment simultaneously. Powerful stuff!

The book became a color offering in regular size for a time from the small Capitol brand before they went bust.

That's when I abandoned ship. Not because as Judah Macabee screams above, that I was bored, but because financially I had to choose to support a growing family and not read nearly every independent comic book on the market.  Because as we all know with great responsibility comes great need for ready cash flow.

So when Nexus migrated to First Comics, I didn't follow. So when I sat down with the Nexus Omnibus Volume One a few weeks ago, these stories were all brand new to me. Imagine buying up comics and storing them in a  cave for decades before you can read and enjoy them. That's what finding this omnibus reprint is like in many ways, these are comics I've never read, but always wanted to and now  I can for small money and with relative ease. Fantastic!

The First Comics run begins with a salty crossover as Mike Baron's Badger gets a guest-shot in a trilogy of Nexus issues which finds him and Judah crossing over into a bewildering world located within a black hole. It's clever and witty stuff from the gang, and a swift entertaining read.

The collection ends with a trio of stories which begin to address the mystery of the origins of Nexus and of Ylum itself. For all the froth and bother in the front of these narratives, there is always a deep dark core which gives Nexus a gravity missing from many other comics. This is at once light entertaining fare and profoundly disturbing material, all inside the same package -- a wonderful balancing act by Baron and Rude.

The second omnibus awaits. It won't be years but mere days before I again explore the fascinating caves of Ylum.

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