Posted tagged ‘Arvid Nelson’

Review: Rex Mundi: Gate of God

May 11, 2010

The final volume of Arvid Nelson’s epic grail quest, Rex Mundi, is a huge improvement over the previous book, but still lacks the appeal of the first half of the series.  In an earlier review I called the series the Da Vinci Code done right.  The two works are really similar (of note, Rex Mundi started first), dealing with conspiracy theories involving the lineage of Christ and tons of research into Church history, although in the case of Rex Mundi this is taking place in an alternate history with a bit of magic.

And when the story focused on the alternate history it was fascinating, particularly France’s march to war in which they essentially recreate WWII (the villain here finally makes the jump to clearly being a stand-in for Hitler), and the magic worked best when it was used as a small background element where most people can’t do more than use it to light cigarettes.  However, the conclusion is the perfect opposite of what I liked about the series.  The conspiracies have been revealed, the war has been removed to the text back matter of each issue, and the conclusion is a full on battle between two rival wizards, complete with an army of Ray Harryhausen skeletons.

It’s a well done fight, and it’s not like I don’t enjoy that sort of thing, it’s just not what I was reading Rex Mundi for.  Although it is a great showcase for artist Juan Ferreyra who is much better at drawing this sort of thing than he was at the talking heads of the previous volumes.  So the big finale is pretty great, but it feels like its occurring in the wrong book.

Review: Rex Mundi: the Valley At the End of the World

December 10, 2009

Up until now I had been a big fan of Rex Mundi, a great, well researched, alternate history/fantasy that reads like what everyone wishes the Da Vinci Code had been.  But the penultimate volume is just a huge mess of a book.

Okay where to start.  How about the fact that there are now vampires randomly introduced into the story’s third act and which have nothing to do with the main plot.  Then there’s the culmination of the war which has been building up through the 4 prior collections.  At the end of chapter 2 in this book France is on the verge of defeat, with Paris sacked and its allies abandoning the nation.  When chapter 3 starts France has magically conquered most of Europe.  

Which brings me to the use of magic in these books.  Magic has always been a part of this series, but up until now most of the characters only ever used it to light cigarettes.  Now there are suddenly mystical duels with fireballs and flying and of course those pesky vampires.  

There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this approach to the story, but I sort of felt like it along with the stylistic change brought about by new artist Juan Ferreyra changed the tone of the story far too much.  Eric J’s art from the earlier volumes was rougher and full of deep shadows.  Ferreyra’s on the other hand is a little more detailed and…well lets just go with prettier.  It’s gorgeous work, but I just don’t feel it suits the material terribly well.

So yeah, this is pretty much a textbook case of a good book turning bad.  There’s one volume to go and Arvid Nelson may be able to salvage things with it, but right now Rex Mundi is really becoming a disappointment to me.

Review: Rex Mundi Vol. 1-3

October 21, 2009

Here’s a slightly different review.  The first 3 volumes (all my library had on hand) of Arvid Nelson’s Rex Mundi.  This covers the first half of the alternate history thriller comic.  So far so good.

It’s hard not to draw comparisons to the Da Vinci Code with this book (which began before Dan Brown’s publishing wunderkind was published).  Its another Knights Templar/grail quest/religious conspiracy theory story filled with bursts of random puzzle solving, only this one is pretty good.  

Besides the central mystery here, Nelson has engaged in some surprisingly massive world building.  Rex Mundi is a piece of alternate history, with some occasional fantasy elements thrown in.  The French Revolution failed, the South sort of won the Civil War, the Inquisition is still active in the 1930’s, and quite a few characters dabble in sorcery.  The background detail, particularly the news headlines included at the end of each issue definitely serve to make the book far more interesting, but not all of it (at least up to this point) actually has anything to do with the story.  But I really can’t fault anyone for showing some ambition, especially since the webcomic series (collected in vol. 1) shows that Nelson has ideas for further exploring this world.

I’m definitely intrigued to see how this story finishes, particularly after vol. 3 pretty much ended many of the mysteries and set up a great deal of action to come.  I definitely recommend the book.