Title: Rex Mundi Omnibus Volume 2
Writer – Arvid NelsonPrincipal Artist- Juan Ferreyra
One of the nice things about comics collected in trade paperbacks is that generally speaking, comics tend to be fairly self-contained. You can usually pick up a volume and start enjoying it, especially with the aid of pages that bring you up to speed.
I say generally because Rex Mundi is not one of those titles. There is absolutely nothing here to bring a new reader up to speed and the narrative is closer to that of a prose book. These aren’t bad things, nor a knock against this collection, it’s just a warning. If the historical AU premise interests you, starting at the beginning is imperative. A very brief introduction to the series can be found in my Amazon review here
That out of the way, I will say this is definitely the weaker of the two halves. While the first 17 chapters were more a game of intrigue and cat and mouse, the second half – 18 chapters with two interludes – is much more action oriented. While I was expecting that to happen eventually, the scale did tip too far in the direction of action. I also do have some issues with the direction of the plot:
France becomes the new Nazi Germany. No, really. The flag is clearly inspired/rip of that flag. There’s a scene where it looks like the Duke of Lorraine is going to pull a Hitler in the bunker (but doesn’t, it was so early in the book you know it wouldn’t happen) and hell, even Jews (and in this case, Muslims) are sent off to concentration camps. Which is both awful and only mentioned in like two asides where it’s more or less brushed off as unimportant. While I get the attitude (from the characters it is coming from) I still find this incredibly insulting. You don’t pull that crap if you aren’t going to do something meaningful with it. It honestly comes across as a shameless ploy to be dramatic, especially at the end when it’s like ha ha! You were beaten by a Jew! Except here’s the thing: as a young child he converted to Catholicism and doesn’t even identify as Jewish. It isn’t a slam against him, but whatever poignancy of having a Jew defeat the Hitler-figure of your world is lost when he’s only Jewish in blood, but not spirit. It quite honestly was a huge turn off. It threw me out of the title.
The magical elements – only hinted at in the first half – become overkill in the second half. It gets so bad that we need an interlude to explain the fact that this world actually has something like vampires in it. Okay. Why are they there? And why were they introduced if they only are mentioned once in a subsequent chapter? Again, it felt pointless. I’m also not terribly fond with what they did with the blue apples and this elixir that apparently works on everyone of Jewish ancestry? The blood of the Lorraine’s line? I’m not really sure, it’s kind of confusing and stupid regardless…
At the end of it, all of the elements that got me hooked in the first half just started to disappear in this one. it wasn’t awful by any means, it just didn’t go in the direction I wanted it to. Combine that with a shift in the art – not a bad shift, but not as nice as before. At the end of the day, had it not been a bound collection I’m not sure that I’d stuck it through to the end.
Verdict: Borrow It