Nemesis by Mark Millar with art by Steve McNivan, published via Marvel’s Owner Creator Imprint Icon.
With Millar and McNivan at the helm this book has a great pedigree and I was excited to pick up the first issue of this book. Mark, a writer with writing credits going all the way back to ground breaking 2000AD issues, and McNivan’s art is always beautiful to look at.
Perhaps that’s the problem with Nemesis? We start out with such high expectations that what we were given was going to be a huge disappointment. The premise of the book is simple, what if Batman was the Joker? You would think a man with all the resources, training, intelligence and guile of the cape crusader would make an awesome supervillain to read about, right?
I thought so, and then I found out in Millar’s hands this very simple and powerful plot device would turn into a huge turd. The tools are all there, Nemesis travels from country to country challenging the top Police mind and defeats them, along with usually over the top Mark Millar body count. Okay, I get it he might just be evil for the sake of evil, but what makes Nemesis tick, what is making him do this?
The first book is bit of a roller-coaster ride, we start with the introduction of the Nemesis, then we meet his next sparring partner Inspector Blake Morrow, the book ends with the ludicrous kidnap of the President in downtown DC, that looks nothing like downtown DC (sky scrapers?). Still all good solid action stuff, but you do go away feeling the issue was kind of flat.
The second book we explore the back story of Nemesis, which I think was a mistake on Mark Millars part. A villain as mysterious as Nemesis should have had his back story revealed throughout the series. In this issue the Inspector strikes back after Nemesis kills the entire staff of the Pentagon. We also learn that the Nemesis is the child of rich Pedophile parents who abused and killed kids. Yes that’s right Nemesis is going after the Inspector Morrow because he caught his parents and arrested them. Of course such sick people were executed with the Mother extorting our young Nemesis to take revenge for them. This is a hard pill to swallow, suddenly Nemesis is just a big dick as his motivations are laid bare and we have nothing to relate to with him on.
Wow… Killed the character dead right there. A simple frame up or miscarriage would added much more depth to the Nemesis character instead of a child of freaking Pedophiles who seems to be just as sick and twisted as his parents. Really I did expect much better from Mark with this one.
The third issue deals with Nemesis’s escape from prison with another high body count and improbable plot devices. And we learn more about the Inspector and how his family isn’t as perfect as he thought. Okay, now we are dipping out toe into shades of gray, which would have been better if the Inspector was an engaging character, but he is really not there either and these characterizations seem to miss the mark. Is the Inspector meant to be just as evil as Nemesis?
At this point I’ve dumped $12 into this series and now I Just give, the series is flat toned, shallow written and you don’t really care who wins in this battle of so called wits. High body counts every issue, stupidly thought out solutions (like every prisoner having an identical car) isn’t a battle of wits, its just bland action comic. The artwork is beautiful as you would expect from Steve McNivan, and I like the pale color palette used by Dave McCraig. Artwork alone is not enough alone to sustain interest in the book. I feel Mark should read a Batman comic before doing a Batman super-villain, be more cerebral and actually have the two protagonists actually try to outwit each other. And for pity sake have something we could of empathizes with for both characters.
If over the top violence for violence sake with no redeeming characters, or no gripping story arc is your thing then I recommend Nemesis, if you actually like having your books have a story or premise then this is a big miss. If I could score it on artwork and coloring I would give this a 3 out fo 5 Thumbs up. But primary focus of my reviews is the story because no matter how bad the artwork you can forgive if the story is engaging.
1 Thumbs up out of 5