Name Your Nemesis


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Mark Millar and Steve McNiven reteam once again this week on the creator-owned Nemesis. Will the third time be a charm?

“What if Batman was the Joker?”

That was the tagline for Nemesis when it was announced. Think of it. A person who is a calculating genius, an awesome physical specimen, rich beyond belief, with toys that any man would be envious of but with no sense of morality or common decency.

Intriguing prospect? Yes. Original idea? No. As a matter of fact, that premise was the basis for the recently deceased DC villain, Prometheus.

So, why is everybody getting so excited about Nemesis? Four words: Mark Millar and Steve McNiven.

By the time the duo first collaborated, Millar was a writing superstar, having helped in the creation of Marvel’s Ultimate line and given us Superman: Red Son, Wanted, and Chosen. McNiven was an artist who was just starting to make a name for himself at Marvel and an impressive showing at CrossGen. But the project they would work on in 2006 would firmly establish McNiven’s name as a superstar and confirmed Millar as the go-to-guy for the summer blockbuster comic book miniseries—Civil War.

That series was not only the biggest title of the year, but also defined the path the Marvel Universe would take to this day. It became obvious, to fans and the creators themselves, that pair worked very well together and what they produced was pretty special.

The tandem would reteam in 2008 on the “Old Man Logan” arc in the Wolverine title. The story told of a possible future for the clawed Canadian where the villains won and took over the world. It was filled with the usual Millar bombast and beautiful McNiven art. But it was also plagued with rather sizable delays. Infamously, the series had to be printed out of order just to insure an issue was on the shelf when the X-Men Origins: Wolverine film was released.

Nemesis will be the third teaming of Millar and McNiven, but this time the union is different. Instead of working on a character owned by Marvel, they are going to be going the creator-owned route. The series, like Millar’s Kick-Ass, will be published by Marvel’s Icon imprint.

The lead character is a billionaire who, to entertain himself, travels the world and destroys a particular nation’s “top cop.” Now, he has turned his attention to the United States and lands in Washington, D.C. to take down America’s top cop, the Commissioner Gordon of this Dark Knight analogy.

The Millar hype machine has been in overdrive to promote this. From tantalizing teaser posters to an auction to have your name be shared by two of the characters in the book (proceeds go to Millar’s brother’s charity that deals with sick kids to stating that Hollywood was calling before the first issue was even written to snatch up the rights.

By all rights, this series should be a real barnburner of a story. Hopefully, the creators will be able to stay on a regular schedule for the four issues the miniseries will run. If that happens, it will probably make Millar and McNiven more money than they have ever seen and turn them from being superstars to being superrich.

Also out this week:

Peter Parker #1:

Not to sound like a broken record, but remember way back in 2007 when “Brand New Day” began, Amazing Spider-Man went thrice-monthly and all the other Spider-Man titles were cancelled? Remember the talk about the Spider books becoming “streamlined” and being “all about Peter Parker”? Like it’s mentioned in this press release here?

Well, there have been more Spider-Man books now than there ever have been so the Spider books have become about as streamlined as a bowl of tapioca pudding, and this week we are getting another one. This one focusing on Spidey’s alter ego because “even with the thrice monthly Amazing Spider-Man, we’ve still got more stories to tell about Peter Parker,” as per the Marvel solicitation. Yep.

Bob Gale (W), Patrick Olliffe (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Angel Special: Lorne:

The character of Lorne was one of the most popular in the Angel TV series. The nightclub-owning demon who craved neutrality but usually ended up fighting on the side of the angels (or on Angel’s side) more often than not garnered a number of fans and admirers.

Unfortunately, the actor who played the character, Andy Hallett, died of congestive heart failure in 2009, so Lorne will never grace the TV screen again (if Angel ever comes back to TV in any form, that is). As a tribute, the comic book version of Lorne is being written off into the sunset as well. This special one-shot is his last story and features reminiscences by the cast and crew about their fallen comrade.

John Byrne (W/A), IDW Publishing, $7.99. One-Shot.

Shuddertown #1:
The trend today in describing a work of fiction is to compare it to other works of fiction the customer might be familiar with. Sometimes this is pretty straight forward. Scalped was recommended as being The Sopranos on a reservation. But sometimes, the descriptive comparisons can get a little esoteric.

Take this one. It is advertised as being perfect for fans of The Wire, one of the best crime dramas of recent memory, Mullholland Drive, which was David Lynch at his most obscure, and Se7en, the stylish and haunting serial killer investigation. These are good films to be compared to individually, but all three are a difficult mix to pull off. If it works, this series could be one of the best to come from Image in a long while. 

Nick Spencer (W), Adam Geen (A), Image Comics, $3.50. Ongoing Series.

Justice League: The Rise of the Arsenal #1:

Of course, by now you all must know of what DC is trying to do with the Green Arrow franchise, especially Speedy/Arsenal/RedArrow/Arsenal once again. Roy Harper has lost an arm and his five-year-old daughter. DC is planning to spin these tragedies into making Roy Harper a more intriguing character.

They might have their work cut out for them. There already has been a lot of push back about their decision to get in the kid killing business. And Roy losing his arm might have been more catastrophic if he didn’t have a friend and teammate whose entire body was replace by cybernetic parts. So, for this to succeed, the writing has to be very good. Let’s hope J.T. Krul is up to the task.

J.T. Krul (W), Geraldo Borges (A), DC Comics, $3.99. Four-issue Miniseries.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time #1:

It seems like comic books have just gotten around to adapting epic sci-fi novels into the four-color media. More and more are making the transition every day, but there are still more waiting to be brought over. And even when a classic story is selected, it still doesn’t guarantee the process will be easy.

Robert Jordan’s classic, 10-volume and counting Wheel of Time saga has been making its way into comics for five years already. But the process has been a jerky one of stop and starts due to the adapters’, the Dabel Brothers’, financial problems. The process begins anew with Dynamite Entertainment. The new company will reprint the issues the Dabel’s did and then proceed from there.  And it all begins again right here.

Chuck Dixon (W), Chase Conley (A), Dynamite Entertainment, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Tank Girl: The Royal Escape #1:

Destroying a city is hard work, even if you are Tank Girl. It is not easy to do and takes all that you’ve got. But what’s harder, for Tank Girl at least, is escaping from the city after the carnage is done. Our heroine finds herself stranded on the outskirts of the city she just destroyed. With an army out for blood and displayed townsfolk out for revenge, unless she leaves soon, this could be the last we see of Tank Girl.

The classic British cult-classic comic continues its modern day revival, this time at IDW instead of Image. Fans of the character can’t get enough of her, no matter what company puts out her stuff. But they should rejoice because this miniseries was done by Tank Girl’s co-creator, Alan C. Martin.

Alan C. Martin (W), Rufus Dayglo (A), IDW Publishing, $3.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.


William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer and daughter Vanessa. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Mar 24, 2010 at 4:09am

    Can't see Nemesis as being derivative and basically it's just shocksploitation ... Millar is just an incredibly talented hype machine.

  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Mar 24, 2010 at 4:10am

    That came out wrong (damn you fast enter button), Nemesis is derivative, I meant to say.

  • Richard Boom

    Richard Boom Mar 25, 2010 at 8:32am

    I love shocksploitation :)

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