After years floating in the void of space and the uneasy hiatus after its last self-published issue in 2009, the space-faring superhero Nexus returns in this week’s Dark Horse Presents #12. Created by Mike Baron and Steve Rude in the early 1980s, the character has racked up over a hundred issues of his series between four different publishers, but now it has a permanent home at Dark Horse.In this story, a man named Horatio Hellpop is given miraculous powers with an agreement that he hunt down mass murderers. Over the years, Hellpop has become ruler of his home world of Ylum, and balances his role as a ruler with his duties as an alien-appointed executioner of mass murderers. Mixing the darker nature of Mike Baron’s writing with the iconic imagery of Steve Rude gives this long-running series a unique edge and served as a precursor to trends that developed after its debut. Over the years Dark Horse has released a near-complete collection of Nexus’ stories over the years, but now both the publishers and creators are focusing on new Nexus stories for both long-time fans and potential new ones.
With Nexus return coming in this Wednesday’s Dark Horse Presents #12 in the first of a multi-part story, Newsarama spoke with both Baron and Rude about their star-spanning hero and his role as ruler, father and killer of killers.
Newsarama: This is a welcome return for Nexus after the handful of issues Steve published through his own company in 2007 through 2009. How’d you end up circling back and rejoining Dark Horse?
Steve Rude: After attempting my own publishing venture with Rude Dude Productions, I wanted someone who was more suited to the day-to-day tasks of publishing, and Dark Horse eventually came to the rescue. I could then just focus on my more appropriate role as artist. Writer Mike Baron and I have always had a great relationship with Mike Richardson, and when he offered, we grabbed ahold.
Nrama: For a lot of people, this will be the first chance they’ll have of getting to know Nexus as a title and a character. How would you describe him for the newcomers?
Mike Baron: Nexus is an executioner of mass murderers. Some call him the "cosmic avenger." He dreams of mass murderers and when he wakes, he's compelled to seek them out and kill them or the dreams become increasingly intense. Nexus is also a space opera with dozens of memorable characters from Nexus' cool collected partner Sundra, to the noble Dave and his hot-headed son Judah, Honest Crocus, always hustlin' Kieth Vooper, and more aliens than you can shake at a cosmic cube. There's action, drama, humor, intrigue and horror.Nrama: And you’re picking up where things left off in Nexus #102 in this story for Dark Horse Presents. What’s it about?
Baron: It is partly a philosophical reverie on the nature of evil which appears as a featureless black moon over Ylum and affects the inhabitants in bizarre and frightening ways.
Rude: As you said, this is a continuation of the Rude Dude saga from "Soap Opera"; the last Nexus story to be published. Harry is still a baby, and Nexus and Sundra are still adjusting to their new mom and dad roles. From there, it's up to Baron and I to simply "do our thing" and go for fun and exciting stories.
Nrama That last arc, “Soap Opera,” introduced the bouncing baby boy Harry to Nexus’ family. How does Harry factor into what Nexus has coming up?
Baron: Harry is Nexus’ kid whom he loves, but at the same time Nexus has enormous responsibilities which do not always permit him time for parenting. He dumps most of it on Sundra. Harry being five years old isn't really much of a factor himself.
Rude: I see the world of Nexus as not much different than what happens in the real world. It's equal parts stress and trauma vs. repose and quiet.Nrama: Outside of Nexus, each of you have different tendencies – Mike, your work is a bit darker while Steve’s is even more noble and classic than Nexus. What’s it like melding your two different tastes as partners to do this series?
Rude: Like a tension of opposites, perhaps? But yes, you descibed the two of us quite well with that.
Baron: We talk constantly. After I've finished a script Dude and I discuss details.
Nrama: Looking back to Nexus’ origins, you two have been at this on and off for over thirty years. Do you find it harder or easier now than when you first started?
Baron: In some ways it's easier, in some ways it's harder. I guess it all evens out.
Rude: My only "rule" is to never go backwards. I need to keep the storytelling novel and fresh.