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Comic Review: Nemesis #1 by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven

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I want to go out and fight the theater lines to see Kick-Ass, the new (very dark) superhero film, but I don’t want to stress that much. Maybe tomorrow. In the meantime, though, I picked up Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s newest creation, Nemesis. People were starting to talk about this series long before it came out, which is interesting because Millar and McNiven decided to hang onto this property as much as they could, which meant they pretty much paid for the promo and publication. It was a fascinating concept, and it looks like they’re going to reap the rewards of it.

For me, Nemesis sort of embodies the question of, What if Batman were evil? From the first issue, I don’t know much about Nemesis other than he’s really into violence, enjoys killing, and doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. The opening sequence in Tokyo with the prisoner on the railroad track as well as the ensuing property damage and rising death toll underscores that. Those things alone push this comic out of the hands of the younger readers, and the language is definitely adult.

The fact that I don’t know what he’s about, what he really wants, bugs me. I kind of like knowing what the focal character is all about. There have been comic series and books centered around evil characters before that have done remarkably well. Fu Manchu is a big one, and every long-time comic fan remembers Marvel Comics’ run with Dracula. DC Comics even launched Kobra. But those series all depended on the good characters chasing after the bad guys to work.

Nemesis doesn’t have those people locked in place yet, and I feel the absence. I want someone to root for even if I’m fascinated by the villain. I like the cop that’s been put into play this issue, but I really don’t see how he can come close to measuring up with Nemesis. I mean, the villain drops out of the sky and lands on Air Force One, then crashlands the plane in the city and takes the president prisoner. Unless top cop Blake Morrow suddenly demonstrates superpowers or finds a genie in a bottle that will give him his every wish, my money’s on the bad guy.

I don’t know what Millar’s overall plans for the strip are, but I hope we see more development in the second issue. I really like the action in this one, and McNiven’s art is eye-popping, but I need something a little meatier to sink my teeth in. Eye-popping art and violence is one thing, but I noticed a distinct lack of spandex-clad females in this first issue. Still, McNiven does a lot with buildings, explosions, and angles. I love the white suit Nemesis wears, but I’m having a hard time believing it doesn’t attract dirt or blood when so much of both is flying around. Maybe it’s made of unstable molecules.

I’m in for issue two, so we’ll see what happens.

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