Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Loomis sisters loom large of late...

You know the Loomis sisters, right?  Creations of that amazing comic duo, writer Mike Baron and artist Steve Rude.  Ring a bell?  You know, the Loomis sisters!  Stacy, Lonnie and Michana Loomis, beloved daughters of General Loomis.

We first meet them in Nexus #25 (First Comics, October 1986).  Much like today's developed or industrialized nations, the Web, the galaxy-spanning league of planets of which the Loomis sisters are citizens, requires vast amounts of energy and resorts to ever more dangerous means to gain it.  To meet this need, the Web government builds the Gravity Well, a vast Goldbergian machine that uses white dwarf stars to provide almost unlimited energy.  With General Loomis as its chief, the project comes at a cost:  the destruction of the Planet Periwinkle and its 500,000 sentient inhabitants.  Elvonic extremists attempt to assassinate Loomis to stop the Gravity Well, but Horatio Hellpop-- better known as the super-powered executioner Nexus-- gets there first.  Despite some misgivings, Nexus executes the general after promising to provide for his girls.

 Back home, the seemingly ordinary suburban sisters close ranks and vow revenge on their father's killer.  And symbolically, they make this pact in that homeliest yet blandest and most cliched of suburban settings, the living room.  Complete with a comfy sofa.

The trust fund he sets up for them and his guilty conscience aside, Nexus soon becomes the Loomis's target.  These kids are smart and it was only a matter of time before they realized who did the deed that broke their hearts.

In The Next Nexus miniseries (First Comics, 1989), the sisters receive Nexus's power when he quits being the cosmic avenger for all of humanity.  Here Baron plays on the old theme of absolute power corrupting absolutely.  The ability to blast people and aliens into atoms has long troubled Nexus, so imagine if you will how it affects his greatest, youngest enemies.  Stacy becomes Ahab-like, conscience drives middle sister Lonnie from her siblings and Michana, the youngest, goes kind of batshit.

When Stacy and Michana finally meet a largely helpless and disillusioned Nexus, they have to fight Scarlett and Sheena, his own daughters by the delightfully formidable despot Ursula X.X. Imada.  It's classic generational warfare, a story as old as the concept of family itself.  This is how the crappy things parents do live on in their children, who repeat them, an object lesson in the way our past continually returns to us in a new shape that's really just a reflection of the old shape.

General Loomis is decent guy, an upstanding officer and widower devoted to his daughters.  He offers them stability and discipline with unconditional love, but unknowingly infects them with the darker aspects of his military profession.  Nexus kills mass-murderers, but struggles with self-recrimination as his own body count rises. Neither man can escape the consequences of his actions.  In the end, can any killing be redeemed by another?

The Loomis sisters would suggest violence in response to violence only creates a cycle of destruction that corrupts as much as power.  Their revenge invites a change that would horrify the father they seek to honor, something especially embodied by Michana whose adorable exterior can barely contain her lust for destruction.  While Lonnie eventually settles into the life of a single woman making her own way in the world, Michana spends her childhood assassinating Ursula XX Imada's enemies and when she screws that up, runs a highly successful teen gang on a mass murder and armed robbery spree.

Angelically pretty, clothing herself in punkish leather and fishnets and toting around a small doll to which she's devoted (another symbol of her warped childhood, she communes with it for advice), Michana's a monstrously narcissistic Bonnie Parker and makes Hit Girl from Kick-Ass look like Cindy Brady.  She terrorizes ordinary citizens, enchants a dimwitted thug, bedevils Nexus, ends up in jail.  In Nexus Nightmare in Blue (Dark Horse, 1997), Michana resurfaces.

 Instead of violent mayhem, Baron involves her in an amusingly sitcomish digression from the main narrative, expertly drawn in all its domestic splendor by Rude.  While Nexus struggles to decide his next mission-- eventually turning to the readers for help-- the surviving Loomis sisters set up housekeeping on Mars.

Reconciling with her sister Lonnie, who now holds the somewhat pathetic yet imminently respectable job of "junior assistant to the mayor's secretary," Michana still dreams of power.  She drops the punk look and adopts the guise of a typical suburban teen, but sneaks out at night to indulge her wild side and meet up with a member of her former gang.  You get the idea it's only a matter of time before she cuts off someone's finger to get a ring.

Biding her time, Michana contents herself with helping Lonnie with her relationships, much to the detriment of sleazy Tom Cruise-lookalike Tom Zeus, a lawyer who specializes in something called "jewelry fraud."  Zeus turns out to be the kind of creepy perv who would sleep with an underage girl and video all his other sexual encounters.  Hundreds upon hundreds of them.  Wealthy, handsome, self-assured and not afraid to get his hands dirty helping out the bouncers of his favorite haunt, a stylish bar, Zeus has it all.  A smitten Lonnie breathlessly recites his possessions:  "A Lambo, a Slambo and a Pomerini GT," no doubt coached by Zeus himself.  I don't know what those things are, but they're probably expensive.  Zeus never fails to mention the pride of his fleet, a 250-meter S&J star cruiser that "sleeps twelve."

S&J, by the way, stands for "Sundra and Jil."  Sundra is Nexus's lover and Jil is her business partner in their very successful star cruiser venture.  A posh, arrogant ass like Zeus would only have a starcruiser from S&J.  The ultimate status symbol.

Zeus never ran into someone versed in military tactics, assassination, spycraft and crime of every type before, though.  Michana learned from the best; that Ursula is no joke and there's probably a bit of her father mixed in as well, plus Nexus.  In the aftermath, Lonnie tells Michana her methods are "extreme," but she's grateful to baby sister for putting Zeus in his place.  The Greek God will no doubt survive to seduce another night, but in the future he may be a bit wiser about how he does it and more honest with his partners.  We hope he learned his lesson well.

The ultimate lesson taught us by the Loomis sisters is you don't want to mess with the Loomis sisters.  Actually, you also don't want to mess with Ursula XX Imada or Scarlett and Sheena.

As Baron and Rude prepare a new Nexus story for Dark Horse, I can't help but wonder if Lonnie and Michana will make another appearance.  It doesn't seem all that likely, but one can always hope.

The Nexus cast consists of hundreds of characters, and the most recent storyline-- the "Space Opera" issues self-published by Rude's Rude Dude Productions-- mostly involve topical religio-political machinations and the birth of Nexus and Sundra's son Harry.  Nexus battles the shade of his father and the two weird little aliens who were his companions when he was a child, more of that recurring "sins of the parents" thread that runs through so much of Nexus.  That makes me think it's the appropriate time for some more Loomis action.

While Lonnie has forgiven Nexus, how can we be sure Michana has?  Various assassins have already targeted the newborn and he seems like a natural target for Michana Loomis.  She could continue to be a powerful enemy for Nexus.  She's deadly as all get out, but it doesn't seem likely the conscienced Nexus could equal Michana's amorality by killing her.  It would mean a powerful ending to her saga, one as horrifying as imagining the psychotic thoughts behind Michana's deceptively sweet countenance.  There's still a lot of unfinished business between her and Scarlett and Sheena.  On the other hand, maybe the influence of her big sister really does have Michana on the path to rehabilitation and redemption.  Or is Lonnie truly as upright as she appears.  Could she be hiding something herself?

I'm pretty confident Baron and Rude will wow us when the time comes.

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