Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Jorge Jiménez
Image Comics, July 2023 (collected edition)
Here is the promotional copy from Image Comics for this title:
The world’s most evil comic book is back! Who is Nemesis, and why does this eccentric billionaire who dresses up in a mask and cape want to terrorize people instead of helping them? Isn’t that how this is supposed to go? Trigger warning: Too violent and too cool for some!
The first title produced by British writer Mark Millar entitled Nemesis had its critics, but we were not amongst them. Two years ago, we reviewed the 2009 / 2011 series in celebration of its ten-year anniversary – see Happy 10th birthday, Nemesis – World Comic Book Review , and with the benefit of hindsight we adopted a very neutral position in that critique. That was inappropriate. Notwithstanding the iffy plot holes and deus ex machina elements, Nemesis was gory fun, the splattering of blood punctuated by dark humour.
We picked up the latest title from Mr Millar, Nemesis Reloaded, expecting that it was the long-foreshadowed explanation for how, for want of a better term, the Nemesis project came to be.
But that is not what this title is about. When Image Comics says, “The world’s most evil comic book is back!”, there is a sleight of hand in play. The first Nemesis title was fuelled by sociopathic anarchy, as rich monsters came somehow to learn how to hunt, for entertainment, targets such as police commissioners located in major cities across the world. The mass murders were a blood sport.
Instead, Nemesis Reloaded is a tale of unstoppable revenge, committed by a different character from the first incarnation. Revenge, even on the scale seen here whereby Los Angeles is plunged into complete chaos, seems pedestrian in comparison to the original premise.
Artist Jorge Jiménez is well-known for his work on DC Comics’ Batman titles and his work in flickering between dynamic action and the quiet of the hunter is masterful. As we discussed in our review of 2011’s Nemesis, the only daylight between Batman and Nemesis is psychopathy and a different coloured costume. Mr Jiménez’ involvement in this title makes that distinction even less obvious. In our view, bringing Mr Jiménez into the book was a clever piece of storytelling by Mr Millar. Mr Millar invites us to see Nemesis as merely an alternative version of Batman, down to the choice of artist. Batman, of course, would never eviscerate his opponents in the way Nemesis does, but squint your eyes – the visual difference is not obvious at all:
Disappointment was the lingering response to this title. The red herring from the first title has been recycled as the antagonist. Nemesis himself even evokes some very slight sympathy – his crusade against five cops stems from their corrupt behaviour in setting up his parents as serial killers. The element of impossible mystery from the first title has completely gone.
Perhaps the worst aspect of Nemesis Reloaded is how the character came to be. The backstory of how the central character developed insane combat skills comes down to training from childhood at the hands of a demon-masked character. That character is revealed at the end to be Wesley Gibson, the main antagonist from Mr Millar’s title Wanted, albeit with a very different look. Gone is the Eminem knock-off, replaced by someone who looks like he might have done some time in prison rather than exist as a hidden ruler of the world. Discovering towards the end of the book a panel devoted to the forgotten existence of superheroes, driven into myth by ultimately successful supervillains, elicited a groan of disappointment from your reviewer. The story is a springboard for Mr Millar’s crossover event with Pepe Larraz, entitled Big Game, the first issue of which was released in late June. It intermingles many of Mr Millar’s characters from completely unrelated stories, including Nemesis. Ho-hum.