Images © Mike Baron & Steve Rude.
In one sense, this was a dark time for NEXUS, issues 74-80, the final ones published by First Comics. Steve Rude, the original artist and co-creator is absent except for one cover, excerpted above. All the art on the main stories is pencilled by Hugh Haynes, with several inkers. I can’t say I like it; there are a few good moments in each issue, but also many where the off-model art on the main characters, or awkward and just plain bad drawing is distracting. There are also places where the color registration is off by enough to be distracting.
Despite all that, I enjoyed reading Mike Baron’s stories quite a lot! He’s in fine form here, from the inevitable battle between the new Nexus, Stan and the old Nexus, Horatio when Stan begins to get trigger-happy and admits he enjoys killing. An issue focusing on Horatio’s daughters and their mother is fascinating, and the return of the Loomis sisters is riveting. Then there are all the smaller character bits that Baron does so well: moments of warmth and humor, chilling cold-bloodedness, crazy science, romance, politics, and wacky alien thinking (the Merk). Above all, there are many tough moral questions and decisions facing both Nexuses (Nexii?) and their friends and enemies. This is always at the heart of the series, and Mike Baron’s knowledge of both the baser and nobler sides of human nature makes for great reading.
Here’s one of the pages of art I liked, a pretty good effort in the Steve Rude direction. And Haynes does have a nice handle on unusual architecture and cool machines. If it weren’t so easy to compare his work to Rude’s I’d probably like it better. The painted covers by Les Dorscheid are quite good.
In all, this collection is well worth reading, though I admit I skipped the backup stories. Recommended.