Like most comic enthusiasts  I saw the online campaign for Nemesis, a creator-owned series by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven.  Its four issues have finally been collected in a hardcover Premiere edition.  I generally like both creators so I was anxious to pick it up.  Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

Nemesis Cover

CIVIL WAR? Nothing. KICK-ASS? A warmup. What if the smartest, toughest costumed bad ass in the world was totally evil? Meet Nemesis.

He’s systematically been destroying the lives of every police chief in Asia, and he’s now set his sights on Washington, DC. Between you and me, the police don’t have a chance. Do not miss the book that EVERYONE is talking about by the creative team that made CIVIL WAR the biggest book of the decade.

After finishing this 112-page story I was struck by how bad it was.  We have the self-described “world’s first super-villain” waging war on Asia’s police departments.  Now he wants to try his hand at America’s top cop, Washington DC’s chief of police.  Through superhuman powers and advanced technology, Nemesis captures the President and almost succeeds in bringing down Washington and its chief.

Let’s begin with the story.  We receive no background or context of the world in which to fit Nemesis.  It appears to be our current universe except Nemesis is able to stand on the wing of Air Force One and then shoot the pilots from outside the cockpit.  He kills 97 riot police single-handed, most by driving their batons through various body parts.  Later he needs bulletproof glass to stop bullets and eventually gets shot.  So he can move and fight with inhuman speed, can stand on a plane while it’s flying but is stopped by a bullet.

Of course, that’s topped by a motorcycle scene of extreme ridiculousness.  A sleek sports car splits in half so Nemesis can emerge riding a large motorcycle that in no way could fit in the car.  The motorcycle has gigantic wheels with no cover on them: this is important to note because Nemesis wears a cape that has for some reason extended much, much longer than it usually is.  Luckily the cape is stiffly flying straight off his neck since if he slowed slightly it would be wrapped around the rear wheel and we’d have a premature ending.  As I read the page I couldn’t help thinking of Edna in The Incredibles shouting “no cape”.

There’s a two-page wrap-up at the end that tries to bring some sense and a “surprise” but it doesn’t help.  And as usual, I don’t care for swearing in superhero comic books but the book does carry a mature disclaimer.

Moving on to art.  I think this is the first time I’ve seen McNiven doing his own inking.  I’ve been a fan of his for some time but to me, the art on Nemesis was off; it just didn’t look much like McNiven’s usual work.  The colours didn’t help: for some reason, fat people and old people had chalky white skin tones.  No question it was digital colour but it appeared oversaturated and garish throughout.

Extras include variant covers and a two-page spread showing script to finished artwork.  More interesting are the ads for Superior “coming October 2010″ and Kick-Ass 2 “in stores October 2010″: I’m guessing this collection was supposed to be published before October 2010 so these ads would have some meaning.  Also interesting is the print date “manufactured between 11/22/2010 and 1/5/2011″.  Perhaps the collection’s editor couldn’t be bothered with an actual date since everything was so late anyway and they had already left in outdated ads, or the printer was running off a few here and there.  Interesting either way.  $20 for four $3 issues puts an $8 or 66% markup to give us a hardcover; not good value.

As you can surmise I did not enjoy Nemesis.  Sorry, Millar & McNiven’s Nemesis as it’s a creator-owned work and as Millar notes in his afterward they didn’t get paid to create the series.  The concept was interesting but it spiralled out without support from a decent foundation.  At least they have a movie deal in the works: perhaps the screenwriter can give us a complete story.

Marvel, 2010, ISBN 978-0785148654

Originally published at Comic Book Daily.