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    Battle Review: Nemesis #4

    By | December 30th, 2010
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Written by Mark Millar
    Illustrated by Steve McNiven

    THE HIGHEST SELLING CREATOR-OWNED COMIC IN THE INDUSTRY COMES TO A CLOSE! It CAN’T be over already, can it? Don’t miss the shocking finale and be the only one you know who didn’t read this. It’s the end of the road for Nemesis and Chief of Police Blake. Who will end on top? Only MARK MILLAR (KICKASS, ULTIMATE AVENGERS) and STEVE MCNIVEN (OLD MAN LOGAN, CIVIL WAR) know!

    Of the current Millarworld books, Nemesis is certainly the one generating the most buzz. This week’s Battle Review has David and me discussing the finale to one of Millar’s most over-the-top comics yet, and continues our new trend of actually disagreeing in Battle Reviews. Follow the cut to find out who thought what (and why)!

    David: Alright, this week’s battle review brings us the last issue of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s Nemesis, a book that has divided audiences, but has mostly been despised by comic fans. What do you have for the conclusion of this book, Walt?

    Walt: I was enjoying Nemesis for the first three issues. Honestly, I was. This final issue, though, kind of ruined it for me. Somehow, in a comic that had a rigged womb, it took me until this issue to go “okay, this is just too ridiculous.”

    David: *laughs* It was pretty ridiculous, no doubt, but in a really enjoyable way for me. What took it too far for you?

    Walt: The end, by far. Everything up until the “twist” at the end was ridiculous in an enjoyable way, but that ending was ridiculous in a grating way. Ridiculously stupid, if you will.

    David: I’m not going to lie. I really enjoyed the end. It fit the spirit of the book that this was a big middle finger to this guy who spent his entire life thinking “alright, I beat him” and then to find out the guy he beat was just a cog in an eternal, monstrous system? Outstanding.
    With that said, the only thing that killed me about is the ending essentially devalued Nemesis as a character and also made it seem even more ridiculous that he was capable of doing the things he did in the previous three issues.

    Walt: Definitely. In the end all I got from it was that every rich guy can become evil Batman. Every single one.

    David: Right. Which takes away from the idea that this was a single guy who could be the inverse Batman. It’s funny – in Millar’s decision to give this book a huge twist, he also removed the feasibility of the central concept from it. But god, so freaking enjoyable to read. If you leave logic at the doorstep, it’s a massively entertaining book. How great was the showdown with the President? I was so hoping he would do that.

    Walt: I really did enjoy that showdown. When Millar is on, he’s on. He just isn’t as much these days.

    David: I don’t necessarily agree with that, as I find Superior to be an outstanding book, but I think for the most part he’s superficial fluff that is best left unanalyzed.

    Walt: I agree about Superior. Superior is fantastic, and the best work he has done in a while. But then you’ve got things like Ultimate Avengers (and Ultimate Avengers 2, and Ultimate Avengers 3). But your point about “leaving logic at the door” reminded me about a discussion on the Twitter-verse that I saw the other day between Cameron Stewart, Andy Diggle and… someone else about movies.

    David: I know what you’re going to say, but I’m curious as to how it’s going to come out!

    Walt: To paraphrase, they said something about how you shouldn’t have to leave your brain at the door for a movie to be good, and I would argue that the same would go for comics.

    Continued below

    David: But see, here’s the thing, I wouldn’t compare Nemesis to something useless like Faster or The Expendables or any other brainless action flick. I think the thing about Nemesis is it’s kind of like an inversion of comic book tropes for pure evil. It’s ridiculous and flawed logically, but from an entertainment standpoint it’s enjoyable simply because of how far Millar is willing to take it. I’d say it’s more akin to a Shoot ‘Em Up – sure, it’s a stupid action movie, but it’s so committed in its effort and self-aware that there is something powerful about it, if that makes sense.It’s smart stupid in a lot of ways.

    Walt: I do get what you’re saying. The one other thing about the end that really bothered me, though, was the twist how far ahead the whole caper was planned, and how much the true mastermind knew ahead of time. There’s a lot that just didn’t make sense for him to know that far ahead of time without some kind of explanation, no matter how B.S. that explanation is.

    David: Agreed. It’s impossible to argue that a lot of the things, like the “Flatline still counts” line, simply don’t stand up even to superficial analysis.

    Walt: I know that there are a lot of ridiculous, completely unreasonable things in the comic, but you have to come up with some completely unreasonable handwave, or else you just come off as lazy. I’m in particular thinking about how he knew Blake’s daughter had twins… ten years before it happened.

    David: Triplets. But still, yes, that is rather insane. It actually makes me laugh just how ridiculous it is.

    Walt: Triplets, my bad. Wait, that just makes it even worse!

    David: Not to change the subject too much, but I have to say the worst part of the book for me was McNiven’s art. I thought he was off the entire mini, and I thought this was his worst issue since the first. It’s kind of sloppy and ineffective for someone who is always in the discussion for “best of the biz” in terms of art.

    Walt: I agree completely. I think he has been trying to incorporate a “grittier” style, similar to Leniel Francis Yu, but he hasn’t refined it. As such, we’re just getting sloppy McNiven, and gritty does not equal sloppy.

    David: Agreed. It still has some really nice elements to it (I always enjoy his level of detail, and I love the that the detonator Nemesis gives Morrow actually says “Family” and “Career” on it), but it was just too sloppy. I think the funny thing is my expectations as a McNiven fan kind of nuked him on this book. So I think one of the last questions to be asked would be this: are you interested in more Nemesis going forward? It’s a really open ended conclusion.

    Walt: I’m not sure. I know it was just a neat cover thing, but it would be pretty damn cool if it crossed over with Superior. That’s probably the only way I would buy any more, to be honest.

    David: I would for the simple reason that my expectations have been calibrated and I find myself enjoying this book, but not nearly as much as I would have if Nemesis had turned out to just be one ridiculously great super villain. The ending was a cop out, but one that works if only because of how much it fails (oddly). What would you give it?

    Walt: As much as I was deriding it, I will admit that it was worth a browse. The second half of this issue might have been pass-worthy, but the first half was dumb fun. I’d give the issue a 4.5 and the mini as a whole a 6.5.

    David: I’m going to give the issue a 6.5 (just because I was so very entertained by it) and a 7.5 to the series as a whole.

    Walt Richardson

    Walt is a former editor for Multiversity Comics who just can't quit the site, despite the crushing burdens of law school and generally being tired all the time. You can follow him on Twitter @waltorr, but he can promise you you're in for a terrible time.