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Comic Book / Nexus

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Nexus was a comic-book series created by Mike Baron and Steve Rude, and originally published by First Comics before moving to Dark Horse Comics.

500 years into the future, Horatio Valdemar Hellpop was given superpowers by the Merk in order to defend his homeworld Ylum as the costumed executioner Nexus. But these powers came with a great cost - in order to maintain his powers, Nexus was required by the Merk to kill a certain number of mass murderers per "cycle". The series follows his efforts to fulfill this grim duty while wrestling with questions about free will and morality.

This series contains examples of:

  • An Alien Named "Bob": As a Running Gag, at least half the aliens have perfectly normal-sounding human names like Tyrone, Sinclaire, Jil, etc. Dave of Thune's son Fred changed his name to Judah after converting to Judaism.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: The strange sculptures dug up on Ylum prove to be tremendously popular throughout the galaxy, and command high prices. That's partly a result of the fact that the artifacts in question are made of unidentifiable materials. Also, it's not unreasonable to think that people might be interested in the artifacts of an otherwise unknown alien civilization.
  • All Hail the Great God Mickey!: In the future, Elvis Presley has been elevated to sainthood.
  • Because I'm Good At It: Nexus spent most of his career bitterly miserable that a Sufficiently Advanced alien was compelling him to travel the universe executing mass murderers. The oppressed cheered him for it and tyrants loathed him for it, but Horatio himself just wanted to stop killing people. When, after years, he finally gets his wish the above-mentioned alien agrees to leave him alone, and another member of the alien's race agrees to maintain his super-powers Horatio realizes that he's spent his entire adult life doing this, and executing murderers is the only thing he knows how to do.
  • Blessed with Suck: Nexus has vast powers granted to him by a Sufficiently Advanced Alien. The problem is that he never asked for these powers, and said alien forces him to spend his life executing mass murderers, including his own father. Many of his targets are utter monsters who arguably deserve death, but others are penitents who just want to live a quiet life and put their sins behind them. Horatio is a good and decent man who hates being burdened with this task and frequently tries to escape it.
  • Captain Space, Defender of Earth!: Nexus has elements of this, a legacy of his having been based on Space Ghost.
  • Cat Girl: Jil.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Nexus would occasionally say, "This calls for hyper-speed!" The first time he said it, the comic's letters page had readers complaining it was corny, and Mike Baron had to point out it was supposed to be a joke.
    • Mezz and his band frequently said "Vootie!" and "Klacktoveedesteen".
  • The Champion: Kreed becomes this. Unfortunately, this overlaps with Psycho Supporter, because as much as Kreed reveres Nexus, he does not really understand the latter's notions of morality (although he is sincerely trying to learn). Very much to his credit, Kreed accepts the penalty for his actions in the end. His son later steps up to become Nexus's new champion.
  • Chest Insignia: Nexus has a lightning-bolt symbol off to one side.
  • The Coup: Subverted. Tyrone was originally just another refugee on Ylum, but angry at Nexus for not returning to Tyrone's planet to overthrow its whole corrupt government. While Nexus was away from Ylum for a while, Tyrone organized an election among the refugees to choose a president (Ylum had no government at this point) and won. In truth, he was really just doing it to annoy Nexus; it never even occurred to him that Horatio would be fine with it and let him keep the job since he never viewed himself as the planet's leader anyway. And, as much to Tyrone's own surprise as anyone's, he turned out to be good at the job.
  • Crossover: Nexus had crossovers with Madman, Magnus Robot Fighter, and several with The Badger (another Mike Baron creation). Word of God is that the Madman crossover happened because of a fan letter requesting it.
  • Deliver Us from Evil: Averted; Ursula doesn't become a better person when she has Scarlet and Sheena, although since she had them as part of her plot to take over the galaxy, and conceived them in the first place by raping Horatio, this is hardly surprising. Ursula does appear to develop real feelings for Horatio though, but given that these feelings lead her to plot the death of his girlfriend Sundra, it's pretty clear she's still evil.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Horatio was once drugged and raped, which resulted in the birth of his twin daughters. He later moved in with the girls and their rapist mother.
  • Electric Instant Gratification: In a desperate attempt to escape the torturous headaches the Merk uses to force him do his cruel bidding, Horatio has a surgeon implant a device in his brain that lets him induce pleasure whenever he feels a headache coming on. He gets addicted to it and winds up a fat useless junkie until the Merk finds a way to reassert control over him.
  • The Empire: The Sov Empire is basically the Soviet Union IN SPACE!, with all the evil that that entails.
  • Enigmatic Empowering Entity: Nexus originally received his super-powers from Drizripool the Merk, though it was years before they met face to face, and they never got along well (Drizripool being insane, after all). He has a better relationship with Drizripool's successor, GQ.
  • The Federation: The Web is miserably corrupt and often self-destructively stupid, but it's opposed by the Sov Empire, which is out-and-out evil. Nexus's world of Ylum tries to have as little as possible to do with either of them.
  • Future Slang: Instead of "Yo' mama!" people in the future say "Yoyo Ma!"
  • Human Shield: Nexus' beam power has a special property to deal with a human shield: the beam can literally steer around any obstacle to hit its target.
  • Killer Space Monkey: The Thunes resemble apes. Thunes are an intelligent race, though, and are just as varied morality-wise as humans. The two most prominent Thune cast members are Nexus's two best friends, Dave and his son Fred, who calls himself Judah.
  • Last of His Kind: Drizripool was the last of the Merk, not because the rest of the Merk had died, but because they had Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence. He eventually went mad, and another Merk, GQ, had to come back to stop him.
  • Law of Alien Names: Most of the aliens have names like Dave, Fred, Sinclaire, and Tyrone. Fred converts to Judaism and changes his name to Judah.
  • Losing Your Head: It turns out that if you decapitate someone and keep the head alive on its own, it gains Psychic Powers from not needing to operate a body any more. And if you link enough heads together to a machine, it can grant the user powers comparable to those of Nexus. One of Nexus's first opponents had hundreds of enslaved heads linked together to his equipment. Once Nexus frees them, the heads leave to establish a civilization of their own.
  • Love Redeems: Sundra Peale was sent to Ylum to spy on Nexus. She fell in love with him almost immediately and left the spy game behind her - putting her at odds with her ex-boss (and, it's implied, ex-lover) Ursula for the rest of the series.
  • Mad Doctor: Nexus faces a couple of these throughout the series. Special mention goes to Dr. Xip, who was accused of heinous crimes and executed for them, but he denies the accusations, and it's never stated whether or not he was truly guilty.
  • Official Couple: Nexus and Sundra.
  • Psycho Lesbian: This is the subtext to Ursula Imada's obsession with Sundra Peale. By the time of Ursula's death, it was only just barely subtext. Averted with Jil, who is a lesbian but not at all psycho, and Sundra, who is clearly bi and also not at all psycho.
  • Psycho Supporter: Kreed was a super-strong alien called a Quatro who had lived all his life as a member of an assassin's guild. Killing was the only thing he knew how to do, but he had come to find it pointless. When he learned of Nexus, he came to revere him as a man who had learned how to use those skills in a worthwhile cause, and he followed Nexus unquestioningly like a loyal puppy, even at times when Nexus himself was showing terrible judgment, and Kreed would threaten terrible violence to anyone who he perceived as a threat to his hero. When Nexus finally decided he trusted Kreed enough to send him on a mission to hunt down and execute a list of murderers for the Merk, a task Nexus himself had always despised Kreed and his fellow Quatro Sinclair went mad with bloodlust, going on a wild killing spree that Nexus was only able to halt after countless innocent people had been already killed.
  • Raygun Gothic: Steve Rude has said that his two biggest influences were Space Ghost and Dr. Seuss, and it shows.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: There was a character called Judah "the Hammer" Macabbee, a professional wrestler who once fought a championship match and between rounds demonstrated how to bake his prize-winning souffle.
  • Retired Monster: Some of Nexus' targets were actually repentant or just old and tired, but the alien forcing Nexus to kill them didn't care. Nexus was not at all happy about this.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Sov Empire, which is explicitly the interstellar expansion of the old Soviet Union. They are literal Communists IN SPACE!. While the Sov Empire is clearly dystopian, their ostensibly democratic counterpart, the Web, is itself monstrously corrupt. Nexus and his little planet of Ylum stand apart from either of them.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: An intentional hallmark of Mike Baron's writing style. Dialogue will careen wildly between dramatically formal and (often deliberately quaint) slangy vernacular.
  • Special Person, Normal Name: As a Running Gag, at least half the aliens featured in the series have perfectly normal-sounding human names like Tyrone, Sinclair, Jill, etc.
  • The Stars Are Going Out: The first time Horatio fights another fusion-kaster, Sutta, the energy they draw causes five stars to go out. There's some Continuity Drift, because later, when Horatio fights other fusion-kasters who were canonically more powerful than Sutta, notably Stan, no such thing happens. Still, it was an important event in the story, because it panicked several major governments, notably that of the Cohesive Web, which sent Ursula to Ylum....
  • Superheroes in Space: Much of Nexus' work takes him into space (even though Nexus is not a superhero but an executioner).
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Nexus kills as the very reason of his career; he periodically has agonizing dreams of the crimes of murderers that will drive him insane unless he eliminates the cause by going out to kill the criminals, and he has the power to get through nearly any defense to do so.
  • Token Religious Teammate: Nexus is a devout Christian (possibly Eastern Orthodox, since his parents were Russian), and makes more frequent reference to his faith than most of the main characters. By contrast, while his friend Judah Maccabee is introduced as a devout convert to Judaism (his name was Fred before he converted), in practice he doesn't actually talk about it that much; as a side note, Judah is an alien.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Horatio got his powers from a Sufficiently Advanced Alien.