Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chronic Review: Nemesis # 1

Nemesis # 1
Marvel/Icon comics

Script: Mark Millar
Pencils: Steve McNiven
23 pages (sort of) for $2.99

Let's be real here, folks. We knew this was coming. We asked for it, and it does no good to complain about it now. Nemesis is 60 megaton no-sense-making, over-the-top-actioning, memorable-scene-creating fictional bomb that doubles as a three ring circus in the "real" world. God bless Mark Millar.

You really have to sit back and just admire the sheer audacity of it all. This is a Marvel book, yeah. Kinda. Millar and McNiven both are marquee names, sure. But Ed Brubaker is a name brand, and Criminal can't break 10,000 issues with the Icon imprint. Brian Michael Bendis is an institution, and does Powers do any more sales than that over at Icon? No matter how "big" you are, creator owned books can't sell. That's the rule.

I'm telling you right now, Nemesis is going to score over 100,000 orders, and we're going to buy them because Mark Millar told us to. That's it. "Yeah, but what about the Kick Ass buzz?" I don't care. This comic is probably going to be bigger than the next Blackest Night issue that hits stands, and it's going to be bigger because Mark Millar told us it is. Now THAT is genius. THAT is power.

What to say about the issue itself..hmmmm. Nemesis is a complete affront to common sense and sophistication, don't get me wrong. You will find yourself shaking your head at times, wondering about the logistics of it all. Things happen in this issue that will have you literally shouting at the comic book "AWWWW, C'Mon!!!!"

But you know what? That's the juice. That's what we pay the strange Scottish git to do to us. He's got us engaged in a way that other comic books do not. This isn't a serial story on a page, it's a happening. Can you believe that guy paid $8,000 to name the hero detective in this book? Did you hear Millar refer to himself as the new Stan Lee? Did he say that? It sounds like him. What about that Times Square ad? Oh wait, it was photoshopped?

How in the world are we going to avoid spending the $2.99 to get in on this? You can't do it. No, it doesn't pass the reality litmus test. It's not supposed to. This is a delicious hook with the equivalent of a half billion dollar movie budget, and you either roll with it or just resign yourself to the fact that you're not as much fun as Mark Millar. Nemesis is not a story. It's a comic book "happening" that you can be part of for three bucks a month.

Nemesis and his motivations seem completely improbable. He crashes trains, he hijacks Air Force One, and none of it is handled on the page so that you could believe it might actually happen. But you have to believe it, because it IS happening, and in very graphic detail:

The premise, in usual Millar fashion, is blood simple and profoundly compelling. An obscenely rich super-genius with access to impossible technology has dedicated his life to making the lives of top police officers across the globe a living hell. At the beginning of the story, he's finishing up with a Japanese super cop. His next target is Blake Morrow, one of Washington DCs finest.

Morrow has decreased crime in the city by 60%. (Really?) He's a straight shooter. And an accurate one:

So Nemesis decided to make a special project of him. Before ultimately killing the target, our villain likes to pour salt on wounds by committing heinous crimes and rubbing it in the law enforcer's face. So how do you humiliate Washington's top cop? You muck with the president of these United States, of course!

It's completely absurd. If you allow yourself to roll with it and just accept the Millar ride for what it is, you will enjoy yourself. A lot. Unfortunately, you won't be enjoying it for very long. Of the 23 pages, 12 consist of either splash pages or contain three panels or less. You can read this in five minutes if you really care to. That piece of it is irritating, I must admit. But like I said, you aren't even paying for the comic as such.

I love McNiven's pencils as well, although you can certainly tell the difference between this and say...Civil War. Ever wonder if a colorist really impacts the look of a book? Check out Bullseye from Civil War:

And then compare it to Nemesis here on the right. The difference is staggering, really. The depth of the image is night and day.

Again, I'm not saying that I dislike the look of Nemesis. It's good. But WOW.

So how do I grade out the first issue? I grade it out highly. I knew what I was getting into, and I enjoyed it. I would have appreciated a little more bang for my buck in terms of total content, but at least they didn't go $3.99, and that was certainly a possibility.

Nemesis provides exactly what it advertised: completely epic, ridiculously stupid fun. And how is that a bad thing?

- Ryan

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