Written by Mark Millar
Art by Steve McNiven
Colors by Dave McCaig
Letters by Chris Eliopoulos
Released March 24, 2010
Just as the film adaptation of Mark Millar‘s last work, Kick-Ass, is set to hit the big screens, Millar returns to comics with his latest blood-filled, foul-mouthed opus, Nemesis. Millar has brought back frequent collaborator Steve McNiven (Civil War, Old Man Logan) to handle the art duties and what they have created is a book that is completely different from Kick-Ass, yet still falls in line with Millar’s style of over the top violence and unique takes on the super-hero genre. If you’re a fan of Millar’s work, you’ll find plenty to enjoy about this issue, but if you’re not much of a fan, there’s nothing here that will change your opinion about him, so just move along.
Nemesis #1 opens with a mysterious man dressed all in white killing a Japanese policeman, something he had said he would do, even telling the exact time of the policeman’s death. From there we move to Washington DC, where we meet the chief of police, Blake Morrow, a man who is basically a super-hero, but with a badge instead of a costume. He seems to be the perfect cop; clean, efficient, and ready to move on to cleaning up the whole country. The chief learns that he is to be the next target of the man in white, who is codenamed Nemesis. Nemesis has been killing off a number of policemen across Asia, and has now predicted the time when the chief will die.
If you’ve seen artist Steve McNiven’s work before, prepare to have your mind blown. He has completely changed his inking style and has created work unlike any of his previous work. The new style has more cross hatching on it, and between the inking and the colors, everything feels fuller, and less flat as the coloring used to make his art look. It reminds me of the look of Leinil Yu’s style, yet is completely different. It’s amazing how much of a change this work is from his previous work. I’m curious to find out how fans of McNiven’s work will feel about this.
The story resides squarely in Mark Millar’s wheelhouse. He has made a career of taking super-hero stories and turning them slightly to present a new angle (see also: Superman: Red Son, War Heroes, and the aforementioned Kick-Ass), but always keeps the action at the forefront and the blood and violence at a high level. This story is no different. Here, he presents a story that is similar in ways to Mark Waid’s Irredeemable, in that he focuses on a super-villain. Where Waid looks at how an unstoppable villain would affect a traditional comic book world, Millar looks at what a costumed villain would look like in a more real world setting. It makes this a good companion piece to Kick-Ass, since that was all about costumed heroes taking down real criminals, and here we see a costumed criminal taking on real heroes. I’m curious to see if this is how the story will go for the whole series or if Millar has something else planned. The concept for the series is interesting, but Millar falls on his usual bag of tricks when it comes to dialogue and actual plot. Millar is not afraid to fill his creator-owned work with violent or disturbing images and enough swearing to make a sailor blush, and he doesn’t hold back here. You know what you’re getting when you pick up a book by Millar, and he does nothing to change the things that have made his books work in the past.
This is a very good first issue. The story has me interested to see what’s next, and I really want to see more of this new style from McNiven. I’m giving this one a 4 out of 5, and I hope that Millar can bring a bit of subtlety to his work, but I don’t really expect him to.