A Brief History of Nemesis, Part Two
When we last left Tom Tresser, alias Nemesis, he'd finally taken out the last of the five leaders of the Council, sacrificing his own life to foil a terrorist plot.
Or so it seemed.
Yes, comics being what they are, a character like Nemesis couldn't possibly stay dead forever. And so, due to what can only be an overwhelming demand--from John Ostrander at least--Nemesis did what every third-stringer with a lot of potential does: He joined The Suicide Squad.
With his background as a government agent specializing infiltration who went underground to fight crime on his own terms, Nemesis was practically made for the Squad, making his return in 1987's Suicide Squad #5. Much later, however, we learn the reason for his reappearance: Despite having a helicopter propeller ran through his chest, Nemesis survives the explosion and floats down the Potomac River until he's rescued by G-Men and patched up at great expense.
The short version: He owes the government one, and as a man who won't rest until the scales are balanced, he ends up being attatched to Task Force X.
Storywise, he pretty much functions like Rick Flagg--and to a lesser extent, Batman--in that he's the kind of person who doesn't appreciate criminals being set free after doing the government's dirty work. Unlike Flagg, however, Nemesis makes a habit of getting fed up and storming out in a rage, starting two issues after he joins.
Unfortunately, the first time this happens, he's on a mission to rescue a Russian novelist imprisoned for expressing anti-communist views, and ends up storming out right into the middle of Moscow. This, as you might imagine, does not end well.
Specifically, it ends up with Nemesis thrown in the Gulag for the better part of the year, smacked around by Commies and scheduled for an immediate execution. Well, until Batman hears about it, leading to a Justice League/Suicide Squad crossover that is hands-down one of the best DC stories ever, culminating in Batman beating Rick Flagg so hard that one of his own ears falls off and quitting the Justice League over their refusal to rescue Nemesis. That is good comics.
So, once again in the Squad's debt, Nemesis makes his return, which lasts only slightly longer than his last one, and ends in what is without a doubt the single greatest moment of Tom Tresser's life. Amanda Waller--who once stood up to Batman and essentially sent him packing back to Gotham City when he tried to shut down the Suicide Squad, in case you've forgotten-- is brought before Congress as a result of a botched mission, and Nemesis walks out. She threatens to sell him out to the committee, and that's when Nemesis... goes up against The Wall.
Wait. It gets better.
That is quite possibly the most badass exchange in the history of comics, and I wish I could say that brought you up to speed. But unfortunately, there's one more stop on this little tour of mine, so buckle up: We're heading into dangerous territory.
Yes, in Catwoman #62, Nemesis returns for a one issue-engagement in a story written by Devin Grayson, pencilled by Jim "The Talent" Balent, and apparently inked by an angry chimpanzee. Nemesis shows up seeking Catwoman's aid for what can only be described as an advanced case of "Oh No! I Suddenly Got Stupid" Syndrome, hoping to learn how to pass as a jewel thief despite the fact that he's a master of disguise, an accomplished actor, and has been breaking into the homes of international crime lords since the first day of his career.
He seeks this training, of course, one day before he goes undercover.
He's portrayed as remarkably optimistic and trusting for someone whose skills and methods are based entirely around duplicity and betrayal, and after infiltrating the gang, reveals himself to the undercover agent he was sent to bring back and gets gutshot for his trouble. This, from what I gather from the script, makes Catwoman sad. She sheds a few tears and leaves after punching out the gangsters, leaving Nemesis on the floor of a London townhouse with an extremely painful but--at least according to Reservoir Dogs--non-fatal wound, all the while surrounded by thought balloons about how he was her only friend in the world.
And that was the second time Nemesis died. But as we all know by now, he got better again, and now you know why he gets his name in glorious Logo Font when he shows up.
He's one of the Good Ones.
More (Relatively) Brief Histories:
| Firestorm, Part One |
| Firestorm, Part Two |
| U.S. 1, Part One |
| U.S. 1, Part Two |