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Sunday, June 11, 2006

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.

In Soviet Russa, scales balance YOU!


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.



Oh snap.

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.

Yeesh.

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 |

12 Comments:

Blogger Ragnell said...

I think anyone who believably stands up to the Wall gets a free laminated gold "Resurrection Pass"...

6/12/2006 1:58 AM

 
Blogger Philip Looney said...

I think it's fair to say that Catwoman #62 does not exisit in the Phil Looney super-consistancy.

Now, I want to re-read Wonder Woman.

6/12/2006 8:36 AM

 
Anonymous The Eyeball Kid said...

I had actually been considering picking up that Catwoman issue, after seeing it on a Nemisis appearances checklist. Thank you for sparing me the trouble.

6/12/2006 10:33 AM

 
Blogger David Campbell said...

I say the fuck yeah thrice! Great posts. I'm glad there is some love for Nemesis in the world.

6/12/2006 11:58 AM

 
Blogger simon said...

And I think it's fantastic that Tom Tresser ended up in animated form on JLU, with his shining moment of fame being that time he shot at some nanotech spiders in the desert. If that doesn't cut right to the core of the character's concept, I'll be hanged.

6/12/2006 4:14 PM

 
Blogger Jon said...

All my SS issues are in my parents' basement, but doesn't Rick Flag spell his name with one "g?"

Also, speaking of ass-kicking and people named "Flagg," do you have a Chaykin spotlight planned any time soon? (I'm particularly interested in whether all that great art I remember from the 80s and 90s actually looked more or less like Hawkgirl looks now.)

6/13/2006 1:55 AM

 
Anonymous Tug said...

Hmm. A kind of strange, not-great-but-good origin, a thirst for justice, been resurrected a bunch of times, got much worse when he appeared in the 90s... Sounds like Nemesis likes to kick it - Moon Knight Style!

6/13/2006 11:23 AM

 
Blogger simon said...

Actually, since we know Nemesis is part of JLU, can we just declare that any time one of the starring players is behaving oddly or or uncharacteristically, that it's really Nemesis in disguise?

6/13/2006 1:10 PM

 
Blogger MoXmas said...

Can I also add a "Rock!" for how cool Luke McDonnell's pencils were on Suicide Squad?

6/13/2006 1:26 PM

 
Blogger Filthy McMonkey said...

Hah! Yakov Smirnoff.

Nemesis rules, as does the Sui Squad. Why the hell can't anyone do a decent Suicide Squad again?

Why?!?!?

Also, I beg to differ on the Batman beating Flag "so hard he broke his own ear off". Flag held his own against the big bad bat, which is more than most folks can say, and he was badass enough to stay standing until the fight was over.

6/13/2006 10:01 PM

 
Blogger Harvey Jerkwater said...

As a young comic fan, I had to track down some of the early Nemesis Brave-n-Bolds. For he rawked. That last one with the balanced scales sent a shiver down my young spine. He was mighty. Then when he returned and joined the Squad?

Only one word can describe it:

RIGHTEOUS!

He's a great character. I'm glad he's back.

6/13/2006 10:37 PM

 
Blogger Martin Wisse said...

Surely Nemesis first appearance in the Suicide Squad was in #2 (or #1, if you count him being in disguise)?

8/25/2006 10:43 AM

 

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