Nemesis #1


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Nemesis #1


  • Words: Mark Millar
  • Art: Steve McNiven
  • Colors: Dave McCaig
  • Story Title: Chapter One
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Mar 24, 2010

Mark Millar is the kind of writer that appeals to a mass audience. He is the perfect example of a writer who doesn’t shy away from or write around clichés and stereotypes. He writes into them like a Mack truck barreling downhill at 80 mph. He takes full advantage of a reader’s pre-conceived notions and with them, he does something indelible; he reinforces them and reminds us why they last.

The best kind of referential fiction takes aim at a genre while also delving into what makes it tick and work. That’s why Kick-Ass is such a success. Not only does it play on what we know about superheroes, it simultaneously lampoons and celebrates them. It almost makes us feel more comfortable about being in love with the genre. We know it’s silly, but this is why you should love it, too.

Millar is almost a master at this, coming up with ideas that seem obvious and running with them. Along the way, he hits all the basic crowd pleasing moments, but without alienating or condescending to the reader. It’s hard to be upset with his storytelling style because it just oozes with the writer’s excitement. Even if you don’t like how it panned out, you can’t help but be a little happy that he got to tell his story.

Part of Millar’s recipe for success heavily involves the endearing of himself to some of the greatest artists in the industry. Not only has he worked with some of the best, he keeps convincing them to follow him to the next project. This time around he coaxed two time collaborator Steve McNiven (Civil War and Old Man Logan) into this creator owned project, Nemesis.

The concept of role reversal has been pretty popular lately in comics, being explored with characters like Norman Osborn and in titles like Irredeemable and Incorruptible. Millar and McNiven postulate a man with the skills and resources of Bruce Wayne, but a sociopath seemingly bent on social chaos. A the start of the story, we learn about how Nemesis has been wreaking havoc on Asia, picking off police chiefs. He is so methodical, he goes as far as calling the time and date of their deaths.

When Nemesis bores of Asia, he sets his sights on Blake Morrow, Chief of Police in Washington, DC. What ensues is a spectacular display of dominance and a call to arms for all parties involved. Issue one reads briskly, but is not a thin story. Millar, who can often get showy with his dialogue, keeps things economical, for the most part. There is a word balloon or two weighted with a heavy hand, but on the whole, it is a very well paced first chapter.

McNiven’s art is beautiful as always, but noticeably less polished. His previous work on Old Man Logan and even his run at the start of Brand New Day had a gloss to it. His realistic line work was made thicker and more stylized by the ink and colors. It worked for the superheroes he was depicting.

Here, McNiven’s strong pencils are still present, but the post-production process is tweaked for a gritty and slightly sketchier look. Absent is McNiven’s often collaborator, Dexter Vines, which could be a contributor to the change in look.

He playfully manipulates textures, provides some subtle detailing and a thinner line to real effect, making the story seem even leaner. His work lends to the book having a sparse and deliberate tone. This is not just McNiven illustrating one of Millar’s ideas. His switch up in style makes it feel like more of a collaborative effort. This is McNiven’s book just as much as Millar’s.

Upon its conclusion, the general feel of this book is exciting, deliberate and macabre. It’s a strong first issue and very promising of things to come. Will it keep its schedule (cough-cough-War Heroes-cough) and how long is it supposed to run? Not sure. But, with this first chapter setting up this kind of momentum out of the gate, it’s hard to be pessimistic about what we’re in for.

Millar’s penchant for beefing up the medium’s status quo is in full swing and wholly welcome.


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  • Richard Boom

    Richard Boom Mar 25, 2010 at 8:37am

    sounds like a cool thing to follow!! Thanks for this man!
    One question though...I thought the last Batman movie was too much of a heavyhitter on the psychological front and while I loved it, I would not want just any age looking at this "humanity at its worst"

    How does Nemesis match up?

  • Lee Newman

    Lee Newman Mar 25, 2010 at 10:08am

    Richard, this is not a kids book by any means. That exclamation on the cover is pretty indicative of the feel of the book... It is violent and profane. But that's the point, Nemesis is the Anti-Batman, he plans to the hilt, to take out the good, not merely incapicitate the bad. He is humanity at its worst.

  • Lee Newman

    Lee Newman Mar 25, 2010 at 10:09am

    Oh and Noel, nice review. Made me think a little bit more about the book. While I enjoyed it and think it is a strong first issue, it didn't seem as strong as Kick-Ass to me and in a lot of ways reminded me of Ellis's No Hero and Black Summer.

  • Noel Bartocci

    Noel Bartocci Mar 27, 2010 at 2:06pm

    Yes, not a kids book.
    Lee, thank you, sir. I disagree about Kick Ass a bit. It was a solid first issue, but I don't think it hit it's stride until a few issues in. It felt a little dated with the heavy myspace and youtube references and kind of just seemed to be written for the issue-end cliffhanger. It grew to more than that, but when comparing first chapters, I was a touch more impressed with Nemesis' calculated structure. It has a real determination about it. The book and the characters.

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