Images © Mike Baron & Steve Rude.
I read nearly all of Nexus as it came out, but there were nearly 100 issues, and while I remember certain high points, many things in this reprint series seem new to me. Perhaps that’s just me! Volume 10 covers issues 58-65, and we’re getting into the period where Steve Rude didn’t do the majority of the art. Only 58-60 of these are by him, but man, are they choice!
Many comics artists are good at action, but it takes a different kind of talent to also excell at the quiet moments. Here’s one that hardly needs a word of dialogue, it’s all told in the images and “acting” of the main character, Stan, who’s temporarily replaced Horatio as Nexus. Needless to say, he doesn’t have a smooth time of it.
Later issues have pencils by Greg Guler and Tony Akins, with a variety of inkers. Both artists, while fine in their own right, do not compare that well to Rude, but Mike Baron’s excellent writing makes it work anyway. Really interesting to see how strong writing can carry somewhat lesser art in the main stories, while in the backup stories featuring Judah the Hammer (for which credits are missing from the contents page, but they’re in the story art), the same character that Baron writes so well comes off as rather dull and lifeless, with the exception of one story written by Peter David that stands out as a much more entertaining effort.
While nearly all the coloring for Nexus was by Les Dorscheid, the book had a revolving door when it came to letterers. I know from experience that Steve is hard to please, so as each new victim, er, letterer comes on board, I think to myself, “okay, let’s see how this one does.” And most of them do well to my eyes. In Volume 10 it’s Willie Schubert, Bill Pearson, Jim Massara and Clem Robins. I don’t know Massara’s work from elsewhere, but the other three were and are seasoned professionals who know what they’re doing. I wonder if they got the same kind of feedback from Steve Rude that I did? Actually, I know in at least two of those cases, they did. But Steve is a perfectionist, and he’s always looking for something more in his own work, and that of others. Hence, perhaps, the revolving door of letterers. And, believe me, I wouldn’t have missed a moment of my few Nexus issues, I loved working on it.
Whether you start at the beginning and go through the entire set, or just pick up any volume, NEXUS is rewarding reading, and always highly recommended.