The Goggler Pull List #17: Rorschach and Nemesis

Dept. of Comic Book Compulsions

On this week’s edition of The Goggler Pull List, we review and recommend Tom King’s take on the Watchmen universe with Rorschach and Mark Millar’s subversion of billionaire superheroes in Nemesis.

Let’s go…

Rorschach (Tom King, Jorge Fornés, and Dave Stewart)


Trying to tell any story within the Watchmen universe is a thankless task. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons had crafted such a pristine tale, such a magnificent self-contained world, such a complete narrative over those original 12 issues that it has become sacrilegious for anyone to even touch it. Before Watchmen was well-written but completely unnecessary. Doomsday Clock felt like an exercise in self-indulgence. And the less said about Zack Snyder’s slavishly faithful film adaptation the better.

It was only after Damon Lindelof’s glorious sequel did fans believe that there were still stories within that universe that were worthy of being told. His approach wasn’t to adapt, or reboot, or even remake, but rather to imagine what happened next. Lindelof’s Watchmen was an intellectual exercise that pushed the story forward in exciting new ways, paying tribute to the original, and utilizing its satirical voice and measured cynicism to address the fears and apprehensions that we have of the world today. It was thoroughly modern, and honored Moore and Gibbons’ work by being brave enough to stray from it.

Tom King takes a similar approach for Rorschach and it too is really rather miraculous.


This comic can best be described as a thematic successor to the original Watchmen. It is a work that seems to take inspiration more from Lindelof than it does Moore. Where King does borrow from Moore, however, is in how he makes use of the intricate narrative structure of the original Watchmen to tell a story that once again uses the trope of a murder mystery to explore the sheer insanity of having to navigate life in 2020.

I mean, the story begins with someone trying to kill a presidential candidate. Which should really tell you everything you need to know regarding the overarching themes of this series. Trying to get inside the mind of a killer has always made for compelling fiction. The whys and wherefores of a political assassination serves as a powerful foundation from which you can layer any number of curiosities. And King does. This one is a political thriller. A hard-boiled detective story. Even an exploration into the psyches of the people who have dedicated their lives to writing comic books. In some ways, Rorschach serves as an homage to the original Watchmen while providing insightful commentary on it at the same time.


The comic is also remarkably cinematic. Which is reflected in King’s retro writing and Fornés’ noir stylings. Every panel sings. Every image has a purpose. Every bit of prose has reason for being. Reading this, I can’t help but feel that everyone involved is at the very top of their game and doing their absolute best work.

Rorschach isn’t a shameless cash grab. This is a series that has something important to say about the great many issues that plague us as a society. It is current and contemporary. It is a truly novel thing that is unconcerned with the preoccupations of the superhero genre. It may utilize the iconography of Watchmen, but it does so to tell a story that is altogether new.

Rorschach is both a comforting homecoming and an exciting departure.

Nemesis (Mark Millar and Steve McNiven)

The opening pages of Mark Millar’s 2009 comic Nemesis introduces the reader to a hostage situation in progress. Immediately the reader is thrust into this world where a Japanese police chief is tied to a chair, spewing hatred and vulgarities at a man fully dressed in white. Just absolutely stark white. As threats are thrown back and forth, an explosion happens in downtown Tokyo, followed by the gruesome, very graphic, murder of the police chief. After those first few pages a couple of things are made very clear; the language is vulgar, the violence is graphic, and the man on the cover, with the cool blinding white costume in an action pose, our protagonist, is the villain.

The simplest way to introduce someone to the idea of Nemesis is what if everything that happened to Bruce Wayne, happened under different circumstances. What if the parents of the young man, wasn’t as good as Thomas and Martha Wayne, but rather had been running a human hunting club. And what if at their execution, a parent made their child promise revenge.

The rest of the story plays out like the twisted mirrored version of Bruce Wayne’s turn into Batman. Except, this turn, was into the villain Nemesis.

Mark Millar’s story is familiar. Many a super villain has had this singular focus. This one thing that they want to, have to, achieve. But in this, instead of following and watching the hero in the story, a big part of Nemesis plays out with the villain himself, making this quite the refreshing change.

McNiven’s art is arresting. The violence he draws is bloody and graphic. Nemesis’ white costume stands apart from the red of blood and the black of the police agents and riot guards in his way. And there are a lot of reds and blacks in this series.

Nemesis isn’t a deep dive into the psyche of a villain. Other than the couple of pages in Issue #2 described above, there is nothing more to it. Nemesis is about the hunt, the chase for revenge. Nemesis doesn’t have a deeper message or meaning to it all. And although some may find the violence and the lack of a deeper message as superficial, that lack of meaning makes all of it more dramatic, and even more significant in some ways. In reality, there are times when there is no reason for violence, when there is nothing to justify such brutality. Except for the fact that sometimes, humans are just humans.

The Nemesis series is short. It’s only four issues long. But in all that, a story is told. Enough of a story that makes the series fun. In all its violent gory detail. McNiven’s art portrays Nemesis as the hero of his story, complete with hero pose, and the fancy white suit and toys. But every other page throws the reality of what is happening back at your face. Nemesis is a fun read. And given some of the quotes Zack Snyder has said about his on screen version of Batman, one wonders why he didn’t just adapt this comic instead. Seems truly up his alley.

We get our comics either from our local comic book store, The Last Comic Shop, or on Comixology. Are you interested in checking out Rorschach or Nemesis? Have you already read these comics? Let us know by getting in touch with us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Check out our previous installments of The Goggler Pull List here.

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