Comics

Rex Mundi, Book One: The Guardian of the Temple

Nicola A. Menzie

Rex Mundi is a blend of Dan Brown's bestselling novel the DaVinci Code, the film-flop The Order, and a little bit of present-day American politics all rolled into one.

Rex Mundi, Book One

Publisher: Image Comics
Subtitle: The Guardian of the Temple
Contributors: EricJ (Artists), Jeromy Cox (Artists)
Price: $14.95
Writer: Arvid Nelson
Item Type: Comic
Length: 176
Publication Date: 2004-01
Amazon

Murder, Magic and Corruption... What More Could a Mystery Reader Ask For?

With no hesitation, I can say that Rex Mundi is better than the works of Richard Moore, Farel Dalrymple, Terry Moore and the countless other comic book writers/artists whom I admire. Okay, I'm exaggerating, Rex Mundi is not any better. EricJ, Arvid Nelson and Jeromy Cox are just as talented and creative as those other guys, but boy am I sprung. Everything from the writing and the artwork to the research and diligence this endeavor must have required makes this graphic novel a rare gem.

Rex Mundi, described on the website as "a murder mystery of biblical proportions", is a blend of Dan Brown's bestselling novel the DaVinci Code, the film-flop The Order, and a little bit of present-day American politics all rolled into one. The setting is Paris, 1933. The inquisition is not a thing of the past, but a very present order, which means the Catholic Church says what's what and politics rule supreme. France, England, Russia, Prussia and the Holy Roman Empire are among the world's superpowers, and the seemingly unquenchable desire for territory and resources are driven by a similitude of Manifest Destiny. And of course, the Church has its secrets -- many of which revolve around the Holy Grail.

One curious priest, Father Gerard Marin, gets himself murdered for digging too deep into these secrets. Before being bumped off, he clues in an astute friend -- Master Physician Julien Sauniere, who soon stumbles upon a ritualistic murder scene, underground passages and secret chambers. Next thing Sauniere knows, the Church, a mysterious former lover, and an eerie magician of sorts start showering him with attention.

Though the concept behind this graphic novel isn't totally original, it is uniquely and cleverly executed. The story moves at a leisurely pace -- even, unfortunately, during the chase scene at the end of the book. The dialogue is realistic, and each character truly has his or her own voice. One particular aspect of this cleverly executed graphic novel, are the newspaper inserts, which really strengthen the sense of setting and plot. Though fictional in nature, the inserts give a genuine feel to the story, and even includes actual photos of old Paris.

The artwork is sumptuously eerie and dark. EricJ's illustrations are beautiful and painstakingly realistic, right down to the hair on Sauniere's chest. The panel layout is also inventive, with no two pages ever looking alike. Ironically, the only slight turnoff is the depth of the coloring, which is at times too saturated. It's ironic because the coloring completes the Rex Mundi package, for black and white wouldn't have done it justice.

On the whole, Rex Mundi is not only a great piece of historical supernatural fiction because of the imaginary world it presents. From touching on anti-Semitism, sexism, secret societies, the struggle between Church and State, and the political pursuit of money and power, among other things, Rex Mundi is more than "a murder mystery of biblical proportions". It is a timeless reflection of the actual world in which we live.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


Keep reading... Show less
Film

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

Keep reading... Show less

Rather than once again exploring the all-too-familiar territory of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Samantha Silva's debut novel contextualizes the work's origins and gets inside the mind of its creator.


Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol has been told and retold so many times over the years that, by this point, one might be hard-pressed to find a single soul evenly glancingly familiar with western culture who isn't at least tangentially acquainted with the holiday classic. This is, of course, a bit of holiday-themed hyperbole, but the fact remains that the basic premise of A Christmas Carol has become so engrained in our culture that it would seem near impossible to imagine a time prior to its existence. It's universally-relatable themes of the power of kindness, redemption and forgiveness speaks to the heart of the Christmas season – at least as it has been presented in the 174 years since it was first published in 19 December 1843 -- just in time for Christmas.

Keep reading... Show less
6

Following his excellent debut record Communion, Rabit further explores the most devastating aspects of its sound in his sophomore opus Les Fleurs du Mal.

Back in 2015 Rabit was unleashing Communion in the experimental electronic scene. Combining extreme avant-garde motifs with an industrial perspective on top of the grime sharpness, Eric C. Burton released one of the most interesting records of that year. Blurring lines between genres, displaying an aptitude for taking things to the edge and the fact that Burton was not afraid to embrace the chaos of his music made Communion such an enticing listen, and in turn set Rabit to be a "not to be missed" artist.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image