A writer who has changed the history of the world and throws around Latin as if you should know it is not to be trifled with. That’s exactly what Arvid Nelson has done with Rex Mundi. Yes the title of this trade is Latin for King of the World and together Nelson and artist Eric J. have created a sphere in which everyone’s motives are suspect.
It begins with a map of a world out of a what if imagining. What if the civil war in the United States had reached a stalemate? What if the church had a huge role in world affairs and what if France were run by guilds and within those guilds were forms of corruptions and secrets you could not begin to imagine? While you’re trying to wrap your mind around the “Confederate States of America” take a look at Dr. Julien Sauniere, who belongs to the guild of physicians in France. Sauniere is a complicated man with many secrets, however, it’s the mystery that his friend Father Marin gets him involved in that will drawn you in and have you searching for volume II of this adventure.
The story has all the makings of a great noir. There’s a prostitute, a man who is always impeccably dressed in white, occultism and more action than you can shake a stick at. Yet with all the revelations Sauniere is privy to he still doesn’t know what’s going on. As this mystery only gets more complex his ex-paramour enters the mix. It seems that she’s working for the bad guys, but in Nelson’s world no one wears a white hat.
One thing is for sure Nelson does his research. The newspaper articles in between the collected issues of this trade give the reader information on this world and a glimpse into the insight of the intentions of the characters. Yes, greed and power-mongers are involved, but there is subtlety in those articles that should not be overlooked – if for nothing else than to appreciate the world that Nelson has created.
We cannot forget the artwork of Eric J. He makes the characters vivid and the magical activities frighteningly realistic. The man in white barely does any type of movements until the end of the trade, still he is a menacing presence. As a matter of fact, everyone is drawn the way they are written – with a complexity that can only be experienced.
At the end of the trade is more amazing artwork and a reproduction of the web-comic Brother Mathew. For anyone who remembers the BBC series “Cadfael” starring Derek Jacobi think of this as a flashback to his life when he was young and just starting out as the monk who is able to solved mysteries better than the police. Only Brother Mathew’s version involves assassins who are high level magicians, carnival freaks and a form of the inquisition that will leave you wondering was that really necessary? It’s a solid introduction to another part of this world that Nelson has created.
Overall this is a satisfying read that you will not want to put down and simultaneously leave you intellectually satiated. Very rare for a written work in any genre.