Joe Carnahan has gone from that delicious Daredevil sizzle reel last week to directing Mark Millar’s Nemesis. That disappoints the shit out of me. Going from a really interesting take on the Man without Fear or Eyesight to adapting Millar’s utterly dog shit derivative shock value pile of insulting vomit. Oh well. I suppose I can just rewatch The Grey.
[images & words is the comic book pick-of-the-week at OL. equal parts review and diatribe, the post highlights the most memorable/infuriating/entertaining book released that wednesday]
Spoilers Ahead. Forreal.
In a strange way, I had hoped that Nemesis wouldn’t end up getting the Images & Words spotlight. The reality is that I’m a Mark Millar fanboy and so is Caffeine Powered. On top of that, we’re particularly fond of the writer’s collaborations with Steve McNiven, such as Civil War and Old Man Logan. With these comic book Mega Powers reuniting, we’ve been ranting and raving for months about how sick Nemesis is lining up to be. Which, to be completely candid, calls our objectivity into question.
Hell, the OL wad might’ve already been shot — there’ve been two posts about the comic before I could even get my grubby, powdered-sugar dusted hands on it. With this much hype, picking Nemesis as the week’s top comic seemed like a foregone conclusion. And I didn’t want to know which comic released on Wednesday was best before reading them. I wanted to sit down with my stack of funnies and say, “Let’s see who wows me!”
In fact, I even said, “Maybe Nemesis won’t even be that good. Maybe Millar’s played out. Maybe the new Streets of Gotham is going to rise to the occasion. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.”
Maybe I shouldn’t have acted a damn fool.
The first chapter of Nemesis is fucking awesome. As promised, Millar delivers an ultra-violent, wonderfully vulgar twist on the billionaire-superhero archetype. The reader gets to see what would happen if someone had all of the resources and ambition of Bruce Wayne, but not a single ounce of his altruism. Matt Anderson is the end product of replacing the philanthropic sentiments with sheer lunacy, and then stripping away every good intention so that they can be raped in the bathroom of an abandoned bowling alley. He is the Nemesis.
The titular character hunts for sport. But, as a maniac, he conducts his very own rendition of The Most Dangerous Game; he finds the best law enforcement officers in the world and then sends them a card that tells them exactly when they are going to be murdered. This game that Anderson plays is both incredibly cerebral and shockingly destructive. Not only does this predator toy with his prey, savoring the moments leading up to the killing stroke, but he makes sure to make a spectacle of the event as well.
In the opening sequence, Nemesis reminds a Japanese inspector of all the recent crimes he has failed to prevent. He then informs his target that the men coming to the rescue are on time, but two miles away — in a hotel that Nemesis has rigged with explosions. Then, in a grand twist, the inspector realizes that he is bound to a chair that is on a train track; not only is he killed by the oncoming transport, but the train derails as wreckage from the hotel bombing interferes with the train line. This is the undiluted, masterfully-executed plan of a homicidal genius.
Opposing Nemesis in this series is Blake Morrow, the thematic equivalent of Jim Gordon. The reader is introduced to the Washington D.C. Chief of Police as he shotgun blasts a bunch of crack-heads that have taken hostages in their attempt to hold up a convenience store. This dude is the archetypal old man bad ass, the aging dude who has paid his dues but still isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. Take for instance, this exchange with younger officers;
Officer: What the Hell? How’d you even get in here, Chief?
Morrow: Well, crack-heads tend not to count their hostages, son. I just wandered in the back door wearing a baseball cap.
Sergeant Lee: You are something else, boss. I had your job, I wouldn’t come near this shit.
Morrow: Language, please, Sergeant Lee. We’re supposed to be an example here.
Of course, Morrow isn’t one to piss his pants when he gets the death-sentence card from Nemesis. Instead, he remains calm and decides to put together a plan to take on the world’s only supervillian. Which is even more impressive when the reader realizes that this is an impossible task — to prove his dominance, Nemesis hijacks and crashes Air Force One. He then televises his challenge to Morrow, informing the public that “It’s time you hailed your new fucking Chief” as the President of the United States kneels before him beaten and whimpering.
Thus far, the most intriguing aspect of Nemesis is that I’m not sure who I’m rooting for yet. I’m not even sure if the reader is supposed to favor one character over another, as Millar introduces Matt Anderson as Player One and Blake Morrow as Player Two. Perhaps this is all just a game to sit back and enjoy, not worrying ourselves with getting too invested in either side. In effect, both players can be lauded for their respective supremacy.
Yes, Matt Anderson is a fucking lunatic whose atrocities would never be praised in reality. But this is comics. And moreover, the character has a swagger about him, exuding a confidence and fuck you attitude that most of us wish we had a little more of. And to top it all off, Millar intimates that Anderson has some sort of troubled past, as the character declares,
“Washington shall suffer just like Tokyo before it, but my new campaign has a personal touch. Call it revenge for a stolen childhood. The black sheep of the Anderson family has returned to burn these idiots who believe that you protect them.”
Even if you end up hating Matt Anderson, I have a feeling that you are going to love to hate him.
I genuinely think I could read Millar’s script and be on the edge of my seat. Fortunately, I don’t have to, as the mighty Steve McNiven rocks that shit out of this book. The highlights include three splash pages, two of which I foresee becoming requisite posters for every comics shop. Seriously, within the first issue McNiven’s visuals help convince the reader that Matt Anderson is a bad, bad man.
The only other note pertaining to the art is that I perceive a slight difference between Nemesis and McNiven’s other work. In this book, some of the art seems to have more lines. It’s not as sketchy as Leinil Yu’s art (which I adore), but keeps a sincerity that is sometimes inked right over. The art speaks as though it is proud of itself, and not as a comic that desperately wishes it were a movie or television show. Again, I know very little about formal art, so take that for what it’s worth.
Nemesis #1 is a sick book. You should read it if you like any of the following:
Old Dudes Who Beat Ass
Condemnations of Society
Crack-Heads Getting Shot
I’m fairly certain that Pepsibones is going to write about Nemesis tomorrow for Images & Words. But I’ve been too stoked about it since reading it this afternoon not to vomit some love. Let me just say this! Isn’t that like, always the sentence you use before prattling on for fifteen paragraphs? Anyways.
Let me just say this!
When I finished reading it, I flipped it to Pepsibones and summarized the comic in one statement:
This thing is retarded in all the right ways.
I was giggling at ultra-violence and perversity like I was…well, pretty much any age throughout my depraved life.
[Variant Covers is a column every Tuesday that breaks down the various titles coming out that week in the world where Mark Millar continues to redefine absurdly awesome ultra-violence.]
Ohhhhh, fuck to the yes. Nemesis is dropping the week. Finally. Mark Millar’s latest license to print money is hitting the shelves and I’m already hyper-ventilating like the fanboy pig that I am. I’ve been waiting for this son of a bitch since it was announced, and now that it’s upon me, I’m geeking out. Let me tell you something. If my boy down at the comic shop forgets to pull me a copy of this I’m going to freak the fuck out. In something of a Hulkian rage, I may or may not flip several shelves and eat as many action figures I can before I asphyxiate and die. Just saying.
The premise is so fucking simple and obvious, even Mark Millar has admitted it’s borderline ridiculous to actually pull off as a title. Millar poses the question, what if a Batman analog was a bad guy? What if a billionaire playboy with all the sweet-ass kung fu moves and guns he could acquire, set out to kill the equivalent of Commissioner Gordon? Either you’re totally fucking stoked about this…or you’re a pretentious windbag. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I still fart towards you.
It’s a little bit of deconstruction this side of the sort of shit that Warren Ellis did with his Batman and Superman derivatives in The Authority, or his work in pretty much deconstructing every superhero archetype in The Planetary. But I think this will be a little more on the visceral, and a little less on the cerebral side. So instead of working out the essence of characters, I assume he’s just going to have lots of bludgeoning and ultra-violence. Absolutely fucking fine by me. I just spent an entire week examining freudian interpretations of Mary Shelley’s Mathilda for class. I’m ready for phallic objects blasting people into mush. Wait, that sounds freudian too. Fuck.
Millar already knows this is going to be a hit. Dude’s already planning a movie. Between Kick-Ass and this, I imagine soon he’ll be bathing in hundred-dollar bills and the alcoholic beverage of his choice. I’m there, dude.
Captain America #604
There’s like nineteen Captain Americas running around right now. There’s Steve Rogers back from the timestream, there’s Bucky back from being a Russian spy, and then there’s William Burnside, a schizophrenic raised to believe he’s Captain America. That’s roughly one for every Avengers title that Marvel is launching after the culmination of Siege. Rimshot, groans from the audience. But no, seriously. What the fuck is going on.
Brubaker continually brings the awesome. And that’s the reason a storyline about Bucky hunting down the aforementioned William Burnside in some yokel town works so damn well. Our boy Burnside, posing as Captain America, is leading a paramilitary group determined to “reclaim” America. A couple of issues ago Brubaker and company got into a bruhaha when someone penciled in some salacious shit onto a sign that was in a scene depicting a Tea Party protest. Being a hippy and a liberal, I wasn’t offended. But Fox News damn near shit their pants so hard, they didn’t just soil his pants, they soiled yours.
I’m digging on the storyline though. If Captain America is a representation of the ideals of our country, where better to examine the clash between the various factions and their competing narratives for what this country is and should stand for? I’ve always had a vague fear that Captain America, while standing for the right things, has actually been an instrument for you know, the dirty fascists that run this corporate empire. Oh shit, I’m kidding about that, okay? For the most part. Captain America as a fascist mouthpiece? It could be worse, he could be portrayed by Chris Evans in the movie. Wait. Fuck.
So hop into this shit this week, and join the examination. It’s got ideological battles, the Falcon, and some really boss action. Yeah, I said boss.
- The Cover to Nemesis #1 Has Been Revealed
I can’t tell if Mark Millar is devolving into self-parody, or if he’s getting more and more amazing.
- Guile Is Sonic Fucked
I stumbled across this over at Split-Screen, a new video game blog I came across. The blog is dope too.
- The Haircut Umbrella Screams “You’ll Need Therapy”
Yeah, let’s see. Stick a cone around your neck like a dog who can’t stop licking his oozing wound, and then shave your head. Your future therapist thanks your parents.
- Fear of a 12th Planet: Remote Viewing
Over at Mishka Bloglin is my favorite weekly column, “Fear of a 12th Planet”, which focuses on out there shit, conspiracy theories, and other shit that my paranoid brain likes. This week? Remote viewing. True or not? Who cares. Interesting.
Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s Nemesis is going to be fucking amazing. Why, you ask? Skeptical fucks! I’ll tell you. For starters, it’s by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. They did Marvel’s Civil War storyline, but more importantly, they did OLD MAN LOGAN this year, which is pretty much the greatest fucking Wolverine story ever. EVER. Also, Millar is a true fucking pimp and has ripped off runs on Wolverine, The Ultimates, The Authority, and Fantastic Four which make your asshole pucker, as well as his creator owned Wanted, and Kick-Ass.
And then there’s the premise:
From Comic Book Resources:
Millar: Yeah, a lot of people who’ve read it have been coming up with hilarious tag-lines. “What if Batman was The Joker?” is the tame one. “What if Batman was a total cunt?” is maybe my favourite, although it’s hardly going to be an ad. Marvel President Dan Buckley sort of paid me a compliment, saying, “This is such a stupidly simple and obvious idea. I can’t believe nobody’s ever come up with it before. You are the master of the stupidly simple idea.” Which I suppose is kind of flattering because everyone said that about “Kick-Ass” too. It’s almost too simple.
But, yeah. “Nemesis” is a reversal of the Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark archetype. What if this genius billionaire was just this total shit, and the only thing that stood between him and a city was the cops? It’s Batman versus Commissioner Gordon, in a weird way. Or maybe a super-villain version of “Se7en.” A billionaire anarchist up against ordinary people. The Joker’s the best thing in the Batman movies, so this guy is a bit of an amalgamation of all the stuff we like.
If you’re not sold? Fuck you. March 2010. I cannot fucking wait.