May 16th 2011
Written by Mark Millar | Art by Steve McNiven | Published by Titan
Review by Mervyn Charles
Hmm now where to begin with Mark Millar’s “Nemesis”?
Well I would start with the basic premise of the story, which can best be summed up as what would happen if the world’s only costumed super-character was hell bent on carnage and taking on the global forces of law and order, a sociopathic Batman if you will with all gadgets, hi tech lair and vehicles you would expect from the Caped Crusader. Well you would probably get some of the events in “Nemesis”, meaning lots of mass carnage, plane hijackings, explosions at sports stadiums, stolen body organs, hundreds of dead prison guards and an overall level of bedlam quite off the scale. I don’t know if you would get the artificial incestuous inseminations and wombs triggered to implode in the case of an attempted abortion but hey, c’est la vie huh?
However, acts of excessive violence and lots of blood do not a compelling story make. You don’t need a convincing story if a writer were going to go down the Batman as a villain route but you do need a compelling story which is where “Nemesis” falls down. You see, for all the potential of the character and story the comic feels flat and appears to have been designed simply to shock for the sake of it rather than shock because it is sharp or imaginative. Nemesis comes across more like a spoilt child who has learned a few naughty words than a sadistic caricature of the Dark Knight. Petulant instead of nihilistic, comedic instead of menacing, the story hangs on the gratuitous actions of a one-dimensional character with such a wishy-washy background that it adds nothing of consequence to the story. In fact, the characters background actually detracts from the overall story because it leaves a story with a closed ending still feeling rather incomplete.
On first reading, “Nemesis” was marginally entertaining on a base level though it failed whenever it tried to be clever or imaginative. It gets worse on subsequent readings because whatever sense of anticipation and enjoyment you get from not knowing what comes next has gone. There is little depth to the story and this becomes more apparent each time you subsequently read the comic. I found it a struggle to read the second time over and part of the reason for that was because I found nothing endearing about any of the characters. It was hard to maintain an interest in their fate and if you have no interest in the characters in a story then what do you have? Nemesis’ blackmailing of his super cop enemy fails to generate a sense of outrage in the reader. The dark family secrets used in the blackmail plot come across as rather tepid and as a result that particular plot arc stumbles and falls flat on its face right at the point where it should be grabbing you and screaming directly in your face. At that point “Nemesis” needed to deliver an intelligent shock and take a sharp turn towards something darker. Instead, it took a turn towards unintentionally bland comedy instead of trying to rescue the situation with some clever writing, well from that point things steadily, and unfortunately, slide downhill.
Overall rating 2.5 out of 5
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