By Mark Millar (writer), Steve McNiven (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist)
Reading Mark Millar’s Nemesis, I can’t help but fondly remember my own youth and those halcyon days of holding kittens underwater and giggling as they tried to claw their way to freedom, pushing cripples down stairs and savoring the fear in their eyes as they fell to their doom, and lighting homeless people on fire, drinking the glass of water that could have put them out, and pissing in the corner of the alley as they writhed and screamed in agony.
OH COME ON I’M KIDDING!!! What kind of sick fuck do you take me for!? Wait, don’t answer that. Where was I going with this? Oh, right: Nemsis is a comic that takes great pleasure in its own awful, Evil nature, and I love it dearly for that very simple reason. With this issue though… Uh, wow, this comic has gone Col. Kurtz on readers and truly fired with both barrels. And you know what? I still love it!!!
Nemsis is based on a basic, yet deeply disturbing premise: What if Batman was a Bad Guy? What if that Bruce Wayne archetype, that same young, wealthy, aristocratic kind of man about town saw his parents gunned down by lawmen and vowed to dedicate his life to destroying the forces of law and order? It’s not necessarily a new idea, I understand that, but Millar gives it a level of polish and gloss unlike anything we’ve seen in recent memory and yet that is easily worth the price of admission.
In Nemesis, readers are rewarded with a character who is thoroughly evil, yet strangely alluring in his civility and demeanor. That is, until he’s putting a fucking baton through your eye! Utterly detestable, yet grotesquely irresistible, you can’t help but be immediately engaged in this villain’s murderous crusade against The Man, and it’s not often we find ourselves so enthusiastically rooting for the bad guy like this! Nemesis is that rare breed of villain who is so utterly convinced that his way of thinking is the Right Way that you are often inclined to believe him despite what your paltry sense of morality tells you to believe contrary to the fact. His every action is expertly calculated to achieve some elusive, yet clearly vindictive endgame against supercop Blake Morrow, a man who, while clearly being the prototypical Good Guy of this twisted tale, has yet to actually earn our respect or admiration.
Funny how Millar fucks with our expectations like that, isn’t it?
That’s okay because it makes for an awesome reading experience, and this issue ratchets up the entertainment and horror in equal measure with an extended action sequence showcasing Nemesis slaughtering an entire company of riot cops. Seriously, this scene alone was well-worth the price of admission, and it was a beautiful thing to watch McNiven tap into his inner bastard and find new and gruesome ways for Nemesis to dispatch the cops. Nemesis extends his dominance over Morrow this month with a painful bit of psychological warfare that exposes the price Morrow has paid to excel at his job. That Morrow is seemingly unaffected by his family’s three secrets only reinforces his image as something of a prick and when he struck his dramatic pose at the end of the issue, determined to bring down Nemesis once and for all, I found myself wanting him to fail miserably next month!
Millar has worked his naughty, evil magic yet again by giving us a comic full of guilty pleasure and sinful delights. Nemesis: More fun than pushing cripples down stairs. Not to be missed!
Grade: B +