cover image Rex Mundi: Volume 3, The Lost Kings

Rex Mundi: Volume 3, The Lost Kings

Arvid Nelson, and various. . Dark Horse, $16.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-1-59307-651-1

An unusually rich thriller, this series continues its epic story of an alternate history Europe in which the Reformation never occurred and the Catholic Church is the most powerful institution in the world. Dr. Julien Sauniere, the hero of the series, is deep into a mystery that involves the "true" nature of the Holy Grail and the lineage of Jesus Christ. At the crux of this alternate history thriller is an almost excruciatingly detailed religious theory involving French royalty, Mary Magdalene and the creation of modern Christianity. Its depth is rare for what is ostensibly a murder mystery comic book, and writer Nelson has clearly done his research. Fans of The Da Vinci Code 's twists will find much to enjoy, and arguably this tale goes even deeper into the realm of the fantastic. The only hitch is that Nelson's characters are not as rich as his material. Embedded in this web of conspiracies are fairly average villains, femme fatales and a conflicted hero, Sauniere. The mediocre, often inexpressive artwork doesn't help matters, as it flattens out whatever emotions were written for the characters. Still, Rex Mundi 's scope is admirable, and the series makes a fun afternoon diversion. (Sept.)