Archive for May, 2021

Review: Nexus

Sunday, May 23rd, 2021

Baron’s and Rude’s Nexus is one of my all-time favorite comics. It has been around for decades, and has become more of a hang-out comic than an ongoing dramatic concern. For that reason I tend to pick up new episodes when they appear, and follow Baron on social media to hear about them. This is a novel set in current Nexus continuity that I helped crowdfund somewhere.

The novel is fun for me, because I would enjoy checking in with the cast in any medium. In a lot of ways, it’s mostly fun for me to see the differences between the storytelling in the comic and in the novel.

There are lots of little moments where verbalizing the story doesn’t completely work for me. Nexus is known for the density of both visual cues and straight up easter eggs that the artists pepper issues with. Baron drops those in, but they are a less subtle in text.

Overall, the story is a fine Nexus story, and no one can execute one better than Baron. But the stakes never seem that high. If this is your first brush with Nexus, they may seem so, but Nexus and company are basically James Bond and British Intelligence. They save the world once a week.

Mostly for fans, I think.

Review: Retablos

Sunday, May 23rd, 2021

Retablos sits at a sweet spot between a short story collection and a more direct memoir. Octavio Solis is verbally painting these economical scenes from his childhood as tiny devotions that he shares. He says this fairly directly in the introduction, making the title allusion explicit. It’s an interesting framing of the memoir and works well for me.

Solis is a playwright of some renown which for me manifests itself in both his strength of judgement in picking interesting scenes to depict and his occasional surrender to his writerly instincts in dramatizing them. I think where those lines are is largely a matter of taste and, overall, Retablos works for me. I understand that it won’t work for everyone. This may be the price for taking chances and I endorse it.

Solis’s life and the setting both emerge as more of the devotions unfold. I came away with a great feeling of the texture of both. The setting – El Paso – is a timely choice given our current preoccupation with immigration and the southern border. To me the place is rich enough to be fascinating without the contemporary fascination.

Strongly Recommended.