Millar & McNiven's Nemesis #3(of 4) - Untitled - Millar, McNiven and McCaig
Story - I'll say this for Mark Millar, he's not particularly subtle. Nemesis #3 is perhaps one of the most in-your-face boom-tastic comics I've ever read. There's no nuance here, there's not much depth.
But that's not really a problem.
I don't mind a lack of depth and nuance when a comic is as balls-out entertaining as this. Not every comic has to be Neil Gaiman or Jeff Lemire, it's OK to just have explosions. Now this may sound like the kind of defence you often here from idiots about Michael Bay movies, but I feel that even though Nemesis is kind of dumb, it's a good kind of dumb, it's not aggressively dumb. It's got a kind of wit, it's got an edge to it. I may have enjoyed 23 pages of mindlessness, but it was a good kind of mindlessness. If that makes any sense.
This issue is basically made up of two halves, the first is a blistering action sequence where Nemesis busts out prison, taking on nearly a 100 Prison Guards by himself. Millar wisely stays out of this sequence as much as possible and let's McNiven do his ultra-violent thang. There's an audaciousness about the level of violence and the spectacle of the escape here that really made me smile, it's so over-the-top, and it's brilliant. Millar is often accused of just writing comics to be made into movies, but on the basis of this sequence, even if it's true, it shows it's not a bad thing. This was an amazing bunch of pages, and one that will look really amazing if and when Nemesis does become a movie. Millar just writes great action set-pieces, and that's why Hollywood looks to him, he's not adjusting to their whims, they are noticing his.
The second half of the story is shocking in a different way. Nemesis kidnaps the hero's kids, forcing him to reveal 3 shocking secrets about his family. The revelation of the flaws in the heretofore perfect Blake Morrow's family life did well to undercut a character I felt was a little ridiculous in issues 1 and 2, and went some way to adding realism to what is an altogether fantastical story. I'm also prepared to have the rug swept from under me again in issue 4, with a possible reveal that Nemesis is not exactly who he says he is. Millar may actually be playing a more intelligent game here which I've underestimated in the face of kidnapped Presidents, gay kids and forced incest. Yes, I did say forced incest.
The next step Nemesis takes is much more shocking, as he uses science to impregnate Morrow's daughter with genetic material from his Gay son, and rigs it so that if they try an abortion, her womb will collapse.
I mean, what the fuck?
Some readers will probably be offended by this, and it is crass for sure, but it's also very shocking and actually surprising by how mental that is. I can't imagine any other writer (apart from maybe Garth Ennis) putting something like this into a comic. Too many books these days are just not surprising, and Nemesis should be applauded for having the guts to just go where other books won't.
This review may be a bit defensive, a bit intentionally luddite, defending a loud, unsubtle comic book, but I think at times we need more than a breath of fresh air to shake the comics world up a bit, we need a blast of hot, cordite air to rock us and shock us. I'm not a stupid reader, I welcome an intelligent, quiet character study as much as the next person, but sometimes a comic should be a rollicking good time, we need books like Nemesis and Loeb's Hulk, to show us the scope of the comic book page, the level of pure visceral action they can convey, and the shocks they can deliver. Nemesis isn't particularly clever, but it is big, and it's a lot of fun.
Artwork - I mentioned how Millar wisely let McNiven handle the big fight sequence on his own, and it couldn't be more true, the 3 and a bit pages where Nemesis fights the Prison Guards are a pure delight, they are gore-splattered for sure, and that may turn some readers away, but they have a beauty of their own, and the kinetics of those panels
is really something. There have been rumblings that McNiven's work here has not been as good as his previous collaborations with Millar, and whether that's down to him inking his own pencils, or to deadline pressues, there is certainly something a little rougher than before, but he can still nail sequences, and he can still deliver top-notch art. Really great.
Best Line - 'Okay. Now you can release the prisoners'
Last edited by Punchy
on Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.