Tuesday, September 24, 2013

X-Men #94: Nefarious Nefaria and how he blew a fortune

X-Men #94 (August 1975) was the first X-comic I owned.  A friend's mother worked for a regional magazine distributor and he got the leftovers.  This kid had piles of comics in his room, but he kept the X-Men issues in a cabinet in the living room for whatever reason.  Probably anti-mutant bigotry on his part.  After all these years I can't remember why he decided to sell some comics to me that day, nor can I remember why I wanted to buy them.  I liked comics, knew the difference between Jack Kirby and Alex Toth, loved Joe Kubert's art and had already discovered Al Williamson.  I just don't remember being comics crazy, but I was a junior high sequential art connoisseur of sorts because I loved drawing.

So years later, I'm going to claim it was the Gil Kane/Dave Cockrum cover that caught my fancy.  Even now, this cover impresses with its high (literally) drama and contorted heroes hurtling earthward to their deaths.  Well, except for Banshee, who seems to be flying to the rescue.  Poor Storm has completely forgotten she knows how to ride the winds-- and note Wolverine and Thunderbird don't even rate appearances!  Even without those two adding to the excitement, it looks kind of like Count Nefaria (the guy with the giant white head) is barfing mutants.  That characteristic Kane up-the-spout shot of Nefaria's face influenced the heck out of me for the next few years and I drew noses from that angle blacked in so I wouldn't have to work out the difficult low-angled perspective of the various nasal planes.  It seemed an elegantly simple solution to a drawing problem that had me stumped.  And you absolutely cannot beat the energy of Colossus in the foreground, boldly sporting primary colors of red and yellow.  Barfed or falling, that figure practically bursts from the picture plane and lands in your lap.  I probably bought the comics because I wanted to draw this particular cover.  I still do.  Good gravy, I love me some Gil Kane! 

My friend and I worked out a little deal where I paid him all the money I had in my pocket with a promise for more.  I think the original deal was supposed to be twenty bucks for a stack of books that, amazingly (or uncannily, if you will) included the first five or six issues of the "All-New, All-Different" X-Men.  In the end, I forked over a grand total of fourteen dollars and  the use of my left-handed baseball glove in P.E. a couple of weeks later.  By the time my pal and I completed the transaction on that long-ago spring day, I was in completely in goo-goo-ga-ga love with comic books in general and X-Men in particular.
Enough biography.  Let's read!

"The Doomsmith Scenario" introduces us to a man who has access to a matter transporter (maybe he invented it; the story never says where it comes from) and has also used some kind of genetic technology to mutate humans into anthropomorphic animal weirdos (which, admittedly, is a process that has fewer immediately-apparent practical applications).  Rather than launch a second Industrial Revolution by transforming the travel, transportation and medical industries and reaping billions, if not trillions, in ongoing profits, all he can think to do with this technology is invade a military base to hold the world hostage for a one-time payoff.  Granted, that involves each nation paying as much as it's capable, but it's still taking a huge risk versus a guarantee of unprecedented wealth if he just patents his tech and sells, sells, sells.

His name is Count Nefaria, and he is one of the most visually boring antagonists I’ve ever seen.  I believe these days he's some kind of immortal energy being, but when this book hit the spinner racks, Nefaria was just a goateed twerp in a suit with a ruffled shirt and evening cloak, a second-rate Bela Lugosi impersonator.  Off-the-rack, ready-to-wear, one-size-fits-all villainy.  His name essentially means Count Bad Guy, just to further illustrate how little effort went into his creation.  We can argue that dumb names are a hallmark of ol' Marvel.  I certainly will... Doctor Doom.  But to look at the magnificent Doom is to understand Nefaria's generic quality.  The Avengers dealt with the Count in #13 (February 1965) of their own book-- the synopsis of which makes the story seem completely interchangeable with just about any found in other Marvel team titles of the era-- and the unfortunate X-Men get stuck with him in the first regular issue of their revamped title. 

Our kid Nefaria and his Ani-Men invade Valhalla Mountain, home of NORAD’s super-sensitive defense center.  Despite looking like refugees from a line of He-Man knock-off toys, the Ani-Morphs or Ani-Men (one of whom is female, by the way) quickly subdue thousands of armed soldiers and military police who don’t simply shoot them on sight. 

The Ani-Men have the advantage of surprise for a few minutes, plus they're fast and strong.  That's more than enough to defeat the first bunch of uniformed slackers.   After that the entire base is on alert, yet the troops commit themselves piecemeal and not one soldier or airman gets off a shot despite being armed to the hilt.  They don't even try to shoot.  They must have been trained to use their rifles as clubs, and badly at that.  After this inexplicably incompetent response by our armed forces, Nefaria gasses everyone else to sleep.  It's just that easy for our tuxedo-wearing criminal genius.  I understand that in 1975, our armed forces were doing some serious soul-searching as the country emerged from the prolonged humiliation of the Vietnam War, but even the Mayaguez incident had a more satisfying military conclusion than this Nefaria deal. 

Of course, if we closed this plot hole we'd have a five page story where the X-Men watch a news report about a strange incident where Nefaria and the Ani-Men died in a hail of gunfire, and the rest of the comic would consist of pre-Thor Journey Into Mystery reprints.  That would never do, so the men and women guarding the United States' most important and secure military installation allow themselves to get their asses handed to them and, with the Avengers conveniently shelved, it’s up to our new X-Men to fly in and try to save the world.

Which they eventually do, but not before Cyclops spends an entire night roaming the halls of the mansion and bellowing his despair to the world, the original X-Men say a tear-filled farewell and a training montage where Thunderbird injures himself and Cyclops plays drill sergeant.  Since Chris Claremont takes a little time in his dialogue and thought-balloons to give both men clear motivations for what they do and how they act (Thunderbird is insecure, Cyclops is seasoned professional who has seen too many deaths and injuries in his time), the conflict between them works better than the seemingly random arguments that plagued Giant Size X-Men #1, where characters sniped at each other on practically every page and with no good reason.  It also pays major dividends in X-Men #95, but that’s a story for another day.

Penciller Dave Cockrum already had experience with group books, having worked on stories featuring the Legion of Superheroes in Superboy over at DC, and he co-created Nightcrawler, Storm and Colossus for this book.  Oh, and he drew the aforementioned Giant Size.  You'd imagine drawing a living island would tax a guy's creative faculties.  Not Cockrum's.  And here?  Wow, the man just absolutely cuts loose.  He must have wrecked his drawing hand filling panels with detailed backgrounds-- his Valhalla features a gargantuan situation room with elevated walkways between digital maps that must be hundreds of feet high to judge by the teensy-tiny antlike figures teeming all over. 

I remember being especially impressed by the training sequence and a collage-like one-page panel centered around Cyclops’s giant shouting head.  I copied that head line-for-line on notebook paper dozens of times over the next few years, always hoping to glean those Cockrum art secrets.  With the fine-lined inking of Bob McLeod giving the figures a bit of roundness and generally introducing a little bit of a Neal Adams-vibe, Cockrum's dynamic art dazzles.  It's pretty.  I mean, X-Men #94 has some of the prettiest art of its era.  I look at it and I feel joy.

Part of that joy comes from the absurdity of it all.  The first half of this book tends towards the talky, which leads to what I think of as a very fun kind of dissonance, like having a company of acrobats in spangled costumes perform Arthur Miller.  At one point, angry Japanese hero Sunfire scolds Professor X starting in the X-Mansion living room, but concludes his rant thousands of feet in the air above it.  All alone.  Well, the Professor is a telepath, so he probably read Sunfire's thoughts or something.  When Dave Cockrum provides the acrobats at least you’re getting a primo Cirque du Soleil version of Death of a Salesman.  Come to think of it, I’d pay good money to see that.

Since these are by far the best and most entertaining parts of the book, I kind of get the idea Chris Claremont would have been content to have his characters actually hang out around the mansion and watch Nefaria die a pathetic death on television while carrying on various conversations about their feelings and why they're sticking with Professor X.  Cyclops may look a little ridiculous expressing his essential dilemma, but at least Claremont gives him one.  All these years later, it's easy (and fun!) to parody Chris Claremont's more precious elements (many have, including this blogger) which would eventually overwhelm the book, but the man knew how to invest his audience in the characters and their dilemmas in a way that obsessed readers as never before.  When I was 14 years old, I was more emotionally involved in Kitty Pryde and Dani Moonstar than I was in the flesh-and-blood kids of the same age surrounding me at school, and Claremont made it good to feel that way.

But oh yeah-- superheroics!  Let's get back to Count Nekot Wafer.  After the tearful goodbyes and character-building, the X-Men finally get the call to action.  With almost all the pages already used up, the story ends on a cliffhanger, the X-Men falling to their apparent deaths as the result of a “sonic disrupter” Count Nefaria finds in Valhalla’s arsenal.  A sonic disrupter is a magical death ray that can disintegrate a supersonic aircraft but leave its passengers intact.  Pretty selective!  And yet we had to settle for a tie in Southeast Asia.

You can’t tell me any country that can produce a weapon like that and surround it with thousands of armed troops is going to tumble its nuclear warfare nerve center to a ragtag group even Dr. Moreau would discard as failures.  Then again, what is Marvel paying all its mutants for?  We’ve got the colorful suits, we’ve got Colossus and Storm and Wolverine.  Might as well use ‘em!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Part One: The Epic Rhythm of Kirby by Gary Chapin (a guest essay!)

Note: This is a guest essay by Gary Chapin, and I am honored to run it here.  I think after you read it, you'll be as excited about Gary's ideas as I am! And here... we... go...

Part One: The Epic Rhythm of Kirby

I picked up Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus after reading Joel’s write-ups about the Kamandi sets. I would like to be able to say I was revisiting old favorites, but the truth was I had never cottoned to Kirby during my developmental collecting days. I had preferred the clean lines of Byrne and the baroque richness of Perez and Jim Starlin. The expressionistic outbursts of Kirby (and Carmine Infantino and Steve Ditko) were wasted on the feckless youth that I was.

So, lame though it was, at the age of forty-five I finally found my way into Kirby via this set collecting The New Gods, The Forever People, Mister Miracle, and Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen. I’ve read through volumes one and two and part of volume three. My mind is blown.

Jack Kirby, words and pencils/Vince Coletta, inks (New Gods #2, April-May 1971)

Something different is happening here. Part of it is timeless. We call things “epic” all the time these days. If something is loud, long, and spectacular it’s an epic. The Fourth World Omnibus is intentionally and genuinely epic – sharing traits with the first epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey.

The characters are extraordinarily broad. Orion is war. Scott Free, like Odysseus, is cleverness. They have no inner life. There is no psychology going on here, no soap opera. That may seem like a criticism – “The characters have no inner life?” – but within this context, the stories and characters ring absolutely true. Just as the ancients were entranced by their own epics, these stories are completely engaging. Like, I’m falling asleep reading them because I can’t intentionally put them down to go to sleep. I haven’t liked a comic that much in years.

Other similarities to the epics? There is a complete absence of irony in Kirby’s work. It’s playful, absolutely. There’s plenty of humor. But there’s no knowing sarcasm, world-weary snarking, or irony. Also, the geography of these books is mythologically general. We find out at some point that the New Gods stories are taking place in Metropolis, but throughout, it’s simply referred to as “the city.” Which city? I don’t know, reader, could it be your city.

The Jimmy Olsen stories take place in a cavern underneath Metropolis that is so large that it has a number of distinct regions (the Wild Area, the Habitat), and a highway (the Zoomway) so lengthy that an RV the size of an apartment block can drive the highway perpetually. That sounds like something out of Paul Bunyon stories. The writers of the epics knew about the rule of cool, and so did Kirby.

Jack Kirby, words and pencils/Vince Coletta, inks (Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #136, March 1971)

But they weren’t writers; they were singers, and here’s where I’m going to go out on a limb about Jack Kirby. His work has rhythm. His lines, more than any artist I know, create the illusion of motion, and that motion – within a panel, from panel to panel, page to page – drags you along like a great dance tune, or an extravagant opera, or an epic being sung by a blind poet – a blind, maybe heavy metal poet.

And it is the lines that carry the rhythm for Kirby. It isn’t the events of the story, or the pace of his plots. It’s the drawings themselves. The Fourth World stories, really, are relentlessly violent. Kirby loves his fight scenes, and so do we. His characters are a troupe executing a very distinct choreography.

You can witness the truth of it when the rhythms of his lines are interrupted. In the Jimmy Olsen stories, DC had another artist re-draw the face of Superman over Kirby’s pencils so that this Superman would match the “typical” DC-brand Superman. It throws off the entire panel! It inserts a bland and lifeless and boring (in a Kirby work!) element into something wild and spectacular; a dollop of oatmeal in the middle of a bowl of kick-ass curry. Look at the un-inked pages, included as an appendix in volume 2. The Superman panels take on a new life. The Superman content suddenly makes sense in the Kirby context.

Jack Kirby, words and pencils/Vince Coletta, inks (Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #133, October 1970)

Kirby’s epic rhythm became even more vibrant when Mike Royer took over inks from the indifferent Vince Colletta. Is this akin, maybe, to production value? As I move through the third volume I am drawn further and further into this story in which, when the Gods finally come to Earth, it’s a complete disaster. I’m drawn by the events, by the writing, the characters, the amazing well-spring of ideas – something new every issue – but I’m mostly drawn in by Kirby’s lines and their rhythm.

Part Two is here!

Gary Chapin usually blogs about French accordion music over at www.accordeonaire.blogspot.com.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Let's take a fond look back at Soviet-style collective farming with our pal, Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin

I'm sure many of you out there in Comic Book Land wax nostalgic for the glory years of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and its socialist paradise.  From 1920s to the Soviet Union's dissolution in 1991, agriculture there took place on kolkhoz, or farming collectives.  And it was on one of these collectives a true hero of labor was born and lived his early years.  His name is Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin, but he is better known under his revolutionary nom de guerre, Colossus.

Piotr Nikolaievitch was born on the Ust-Ordynski collective farm in Siberia.  At some point in his early teens he manifested an unusual power-- he could transmute his flesh to living metal, increasing his strength to that of one hundred Stakhanovites.  Soon the young man began producing several times his daily quota, which benefited his comrades and the state greatly.  And it was there in the beautiful wheat fields of his motherland Piotr Nikolaievitch attracted the attention of noted capitalist psychic Professor Charles Xavier, who, as leader of a team of superheroes and despite his counter-revolutionary upbringing, had become something of a champion of collectivism (albeit allowing his charges to sport outlandish, individualistic garb).  The Professor appealed to young Piotr's desire to learn to harness his powers in the interest of the workers of the world.  And so it was the strapping lad left the farm and dared the decadent West.

The state began collectivizing agriculture with the First Five-Year Plan, which called for the organization of 20 percent of arable land into collectives.  The Central Committee decided in 1930 to extend this to most of the country's grain-producing areas.  Stalin took a hand with his Urals-Siberian Method, which essentially forced the farming people of those regions to surrender their grain to the state.  Stalin's civil servants also seized farm equipment and livestock, their slogan being "Eliminate the kulaks as a class!"  The peasantry resisted.  A kind of civil war erupted, with peasants killing livestock rather than surrender it, but forty years later in Giant Size X-Men #1 (May 1975), written by Len Wein and illustrated by Dave Cockrum,  readers find the Rasputins living a Spartan yet idyllic existence.  By then Nikita Khruschev had denounced Stalin himself in his famous 1954 "Secret Speech" to the Communist Party's Twentieth Congress, the Cuban Missile Crisis had come and gone, also Czechoslovakia, the Vietnam War and the world relaxed a little bit during the thaw era under presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford.  The time was right for a nice boy like Piotr to leave the collective and make his mark in American superhero funnybooks.
Compared to previous comic book portrayals of communist countries as Orwellian nightmare realms, this new view startles in its National Geographic picturesqueness.  Whether in the west or inside the communist sphere, farming remains a dangerous business, however, and Wein presents a convenient tractor accident by way of demonstrating Colossus' powers.  The raw, farmboy version of Colossus comes across as kind of a Soviet Li'l Abner in his first appearance and again in X-Men 97 (February 1976) where he and his pal Nightcrawler-- who at this point in his character history uses an "image inducer" to disguise his natural blue-furred appearance-- engage in a little girl-watching.  Chris Claremont provides a little fish-out-of-water humor, which artist Cockrum emphasizes with a perfectly chosen "camera" angle.
It's more a cultural moment rather than a political one.  Claremont doesn't have Colossus denounce western immorality.  Rather, Claremont has the lad make it more personal level, as a young man who has lived a very sheltered sort of existence-- not much different than some guy from a ranch in Montana, for example-- encountering a flash of skin for the first time.  Colossus isn't sure of it, but he's learning. 
Colossus' home country lasted just over a quarter century more before its economic and political systems could no longer sustain themselves.  At that point, the USSR collapsed and divided itself into independent nations.  The Cold War had ended, leaving the world with ever-more complex and confusing struggles, but these vintage X-Men comics capture a moment in geopolitical history when two vast powers with ostensibly opposite philosophies faced off through diplomacy and proxy wars across the globe, but the comic book creators from the English-speaking one were willing to humanize the foe and add nuance to their portrayals of our differences.
A few years before Piotr Nikolaievitch would more than likely have been a member of some commie bunch of X-Men counterparts the home team would fight to prevent some kind of moon shot sabotage or balance-of-power altering assassination.  Star Trek's Pavel Chekov prefigures Colossus' positive portrayal (even as the show's Klingons exploited the old commie/Cossack/Mongol horde tropes), but during the Seventies and before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the "Evil Empire" rhetoric of the Ronald Reagan administration, Wein and Claremont present their metal-skinned hero as a decent kid.  Chris Claremont would later reveal Colossus as a talented painter in his own right, a nice contrast to the character's hulking appearance and job as team muscle, fully rounding-out Marvel's favorite Red.  His question to Professor X about whether or not his powers should belong to the state shows Colossus is very much a product of his system, but he's basically good-hearted and kind.  Sort of like the submarine crewmembers from Norman Jewison's 1966 comedy The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming!
Once the regular series starts, Colossus doesn't spend a lot of time trying vainly to re-educate his teammates with Leninist dialectics.  Or any at all, if I remember correctly.  The only time his politics really come to the forefront is in The Uncanny X-Men #123 and 124 (July and August 1979).  During a battle with Arcade a mind-controlled Colossus turns into exactly the kind of stereotype Wein and Claremont so carefully avoided-- the Proletarian.  It's a powerful switch, and with it Claremont gives us a satirical taste of the stuff Marvel printed in the 1950s, when Captain America wasn't frozen in ice but actively combating the International Communist Conspiracy and possibly flouridation of water, as well.
Since superhero comic book characters age very slowly (if at all), and because I've long since given up following current continuity, I'm not sure how Marvel handled the Soviet Union's dissolution.  The most recent X-Men story I've read-- the Joss Whedon run-- didn't address it at all.  Colossus was just there, as apolitical as he'd always been.  It seems unlikely a guy like Colossus, who was in his late teens when he first appeared and must only be in his twenties or early thirties now, could possibly have grown up under communist rule on a collective farm.  Maybe he's just a simple Siberian farm boy without the political ramifications.  Maybe he always was.

Monday, September 16, 2013

News you can possibly use...

Hello, sports fans!  I mean, comic book fans!  I haven't gone away.  I'm just very busy at work making tests for my students.  Yes, I'm the bald psychic mentor of a group of teens with special powers.  They wear uniforms and work very hard.  What are their powers?  Some can speak English.  Some are very good at sports.  A few can make strange sounds that echo throughout the school.  They're not ready to save the world just yet, but give them time.

In case you're interested, here's what's up at When Comic Books Ruled the Earth.  I'm working on three big posts about the X-Men, communism and Lonnie Loomis.  We're going to have a two-part guest essay coming up soon, and I'm very excited about that.  I hope you are, too.  For now, let's--

What's that?  Cerebro has detected a doughnut in the school cafeteria.  TO ME, MY X-MEN!  AND BRING ME MY WALLET!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Early Uncanny X-Men finally available at Comixology

Comixology just added Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975) and Uncanny X-Men 94-100 this week.  Technically, the title isn't Uncanny X-Men.  Just X-Men.  Or, if you prefer, The All-New, All-Different X-Men.  The X-people didn't become uncanny on the cover until issue #114 (October 1978), but Comixology cleverly lumps them all together under one easy-to-find title.

Isn't it strange X-Men managed to go so long without an adjective?  It has precedents.  After all, the Avengers starred in The Avengers.  Daredevil settled for "Here Comes."  But with all the incredibles, amazings, mightys and invincibles, you'd think someone at Marvel would have already slapped some kind of descriptor on these kids before the middle 70s.  Exasperating, exaggerated, exacting.  Anything.  Right?

These issues join the already-available later ones comprising the "Dark Phoenix Saga."  Now you can check out the earliest days of the international X-Men, the characters who made this book one of Marvel's flagship franchises after the original version sickened and didn't exactly die, but entered a sort of zombie-state.  Reprints, we call them.

What does this mean?  It means I just bought a bunch of comics I've bought many times before (including the originals!) in various forms (including, once again, the originals!) and we're going to have some fun with them here sometime in the future after I read them yet again and decide just what the heck I want to point out.  Probably something obvious other people have pointed out about ten thousand times before, but I'll stupidly treat as if I'm the first because that's what I do.  This is my way.

It also means I'm missing Dave Cockrum right now.  That guy could draw.  The stories in these issues are your usual Marvel gang-warfare stuff with a few surprises and then-unique touches but the art was the main draw for me.  The character designs really dazzled my junior high self and I spent a lot of my free time copying Cockrum's splash pages and coolest panels-- there are many of them in these issues-- instead of studying and doing homework...

Now I DRIVE the school bus!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Nexus: The Origin, the book that hooked me on Nexus

Like many of you, I bought Dark Horse's Nexus:  The Origin way back in 1992, when it first came out.  Steve Rude has had it remastered since then, but even all those years ago it was a singular experience for a comic reader.  All the sweeping events making up the young Horatio "Nexus" Hellpop's biography collapsed into a single double-sized issue, from the tragic love affair between his parents (his dad was a conflicted commie general and his mother a sensitive painter) to his first encounter with future mate Sundra Peale.  Mike Baron works each vignette expertly for poignancy or playfulness and Steve Rude's art is simply gorgeous throughout.  Baron and Rude are two guys whose disparate personal views somehow mesh instead of clash.  In a text piece I read in some other book-- or maybe it was in this one-- Baron relates how Rude would phone him howling for Ursula X.X. Imada's blood for some outrage of hers, but together they produce something so beautiful if there are any seams showing they seem stitched right into the overall design.

And so it is with Nexus:  The Origin, which brought their much-lauded creation back for another go-around.  The new Nexus series-- actually broken up for some reason into smaller mini-series, each telling a complete story unto itself but also containing a shadow numbering related to the overall Nexus saga--  produced a number of memorable moments but didn't exactly top the sales charts.  At the end of the arrangement, Dark Horse reverted the character rights back to Baron and Rude, a class move if there ever was one.  A few years later, Rude started Rude Dude Productions, a self-publishing venture that sadly couldn't find a profitable niche in the then-current marketplace.  It was with Rude Dude this new version of Nexus:  The Origin came out, recolored and spiffed up-- although I was fine with the first one, which won the 1993 Eisner for Single Best Issue.

I'd say since I can't remember the specifics of any other single comic book I read that year and since this one made me a confirmed fan of its characters and overall series, then it's my Single Best Issue for 92-93 as well.  But it wasn't my first encounter with Nexus and his world.

Years before, when I was a junior high kid hooked on The New Mutants and Judge Dredd, I used to do pin-up artwork for a local comic shop, and the owners-- a gentle married couple who always treated me royally-- paid me with autographed posters.  One of these was a print of a painted Nexus cover.  While Rude's art impressed me a great deal-- I'd read a bit about him in Comics Scene and Amazing Heroes magazines so I knew who he was and all about his drawing capabilities-- Nexus looked too much like Cyclops from Uncanny X-Men and I just couldn't wrap my pea-brain around what I thought was a slick Marvel rip-off.  Not that I objected to anyone doing such a thing; I had notebooks full of derivative ideas of my own.  I just didn't want to participate in someone else doing the same.

Or so I thought then.  Later, I learned how wrong I was and if anyone's going to time travel and whup up on my skinny butt for being an idiot, it's me.  Still, I like to think then-me had some precociously refined taste even when he was too timid to sample.  As with A Distant Soil, something about Nexus stuck with me over the next eight or so years as I grew up into the weirdo who writes foolishness here.  Comic stores came and went and so did my interest in comics, but somehow I got hooked again in the early '90s and one of the hookers was Nexus:  The Origin.

I don't even know why I bought it after such a history not buying Nexus, but I distinctly remember the first time I read it (of many).  I was sitting on the toilet in the bathroom at my parents' house where I lived while I worked at a two-year college teaching developmental English.  I read it from cover to cover, just amazed at how perfectly, how skillfully Baron and Rude presented each moment, just slices in time.  It has everything you need to know about the character Nexus and his life, features the series' tonal variety and stands alone as a compelling story.  The overall sense of generational tragedy-- a recurring Nexus theme-- was probably my major emotional take away.

Well, that and falling in love with yet another comic book.  Oh, and yes, I washed my hands before I picked the book up off the very clean white tile floor where it lay.  In my mind, I haven't really put it down since.