Friday, February 04, 2005

Rex "Mundane" - Rex Mundi

I really am curious, something eventually happens in Rex Mundi, right?

I mean, the later issues are different than those collected in the first trade (#0-5), right?

Because otherwise...there is a whole lot of nothing going on with this comic, if the comic is to be based solely on the first trade, "Rex Mundi: Book One: The Guardian of the Temple," the subject of today's "You Decide."

Written by Arvid Nelson, and drawn by Eric J (with colors from Jeremy Cox, whose work I really dig), the series is certainly not bad. It is well-written enough. It just does not strike me as all that unique or interesting. I freely admit that that could just be because they haven't GOTTEN to that stuff yet, but that does not help me much with the first book, now does it?

The art from Eric J is intriguing. I was not a fan of his style, and, to be honest, I actually think he HURTS the book, as I think is especially pointed out when you see Guy Davis' pin-up at the end. Can you imagine Guy Davis drawing this book? MUCH cooler. However, while I am not a fan of his style, I do think that his style would work very well on a superhero title, so I am not surprised to see him depart the series, presumably because of that very reason.

The story is set in a Europe of the 1930s that is still very much entangled in the Inquisition. The Church controls much of the world. In this setting, a priest is murdered and his friend, a doctor, sets off to investigate what is going on. It all involves secret orders, the Holy Grail, a quest to the Middle East for oil (petrocarbons), and all sorts of conspiracy stuff.

Nelson certainly spends a LOT of time setting up the, well, setting. He includes in each issue a very detailed newspaper which gives even MORE depth to the setting. This is nice to see, but while he spends all the issues setting up the period, he does not do as much in actually having things happen.

As a result, the "ending" of the first book reads like the "ending" of a first chapter of a novel. Which is fine when reading a novel, but when you're reading a 22-page comic, it really shouldn't take 110 pages just to get through the first chapter. The action is so, well, mundane. This really reads a lot like that lame Heath Ledger movie that came out awhile back, "The Order."

As of the end of Book One, the only reason this series stands out (in a positive sense) is the depth that Nelson has given to the main conceit. That's great, but please, someone tell me, does something actually HAPPEN any time soon?


Blogger Greg said...


I'm certainly not going to defend Rex Mundi, even though I recommended it in the first place, because if you don't like it, you don't like it. I will tell you why I do like it.

I actually enjoy the pacing. Nelson and J (before he left the book) made it very clear that the series will last 36 issues (with the frequency that they come out, however, it may take 20 years to finish). With that in mind, I'm willing to be patient. I like the fact that there's a murder in the first book, but you don't really get much more than that. I like that there are vague threats to the good guys, but the Church is willing to take its time -- it's been around for 2000 years, so it's patient. More stuff does happen in the second trade, I promise, although probably not enough to make you happy.

I also like the pacing because it does allow Nelson to draw us into this world he's created, and even you admit that he's done a nice job. I'm a sucker for alternate history and alternate Christianity, and I enjoy the way you have to work at reading this to get all the allusions and political maneuverings that are going on. It's frustrating sometimes, especially since I read in its "pamphlet" format, but I'm happy to go along, since Nelson gives us little clues each issue.

I agree with you that this is perhaps not best served as a series of trade paperbacks, much less in 22-page format. It can frustrating. I like it because it's something different, it's beautiful to look at, and it's fun to see what's going to happen next (yes, things do happen!). Sorry you didn't like it. I'll go crawl off into my corner now.

2/05/2005 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

36 issue story?


I can certainly see how that can affect the pacing.

That's fairly ballsy of them, isn't it? Taking the risk that they'll GET to the 36th issue. So I'm impressed by the risk they are taking.

2/05/2005 07:34:00 PM  

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