Friday, 5 October 2012

The Nemo Agenda

Here’s a story that I’d been hoping for, for a good while. The Nemo Agenda – the return of Nemo. What is the favour that he seeks of Kal? Will this live up to my personal favourite of the Kal Jerico series, Nemo? And will it be all I’d hoped for? I already know, and it’s interesting re-reading to see this story without hype attached. Without further ado, here is my opinion of The Nemo Agenda.

Chapter One

Now last time I reviewed a four-parter I split it into four parts to review each part of the story, and while this is still the idea, this time I won’t be rating each chapter. No sirree, this time about it feels more appropriate to rate each full story arc as it meets its conclusion. Therefore each separate rating and the average rating will be given at the end.
Now the opening of The Nemo Agenda ties in very much to the backdrop of the first Redeemer comic. In The Redeemer issue 1, the triumphant redemptionist Klovis journeys back through the no-man’s-land wastes inbetween hive-cities when he & his gang are ambushed. Much the same thing happens to a guilder caravan in The Nemo Agenda, but whereas the first Redeemer was kill-kill-kill-kill-kill with overly cheesy parodies and no real plot or character, The Nemo Agenda is more temporary on the action so as to dive right into the setup.

Yes, it plays out much like this, except without the church-mobile steamtank

In an intro this-far-in unique enough to not have Jerico & Scabbs directly involved with first page happenings, the Caravan is ambushed and under cover of the raid an undercover assassin uses his opportunity to try and steal away a high-value artefact for his master. Originally I had thought the disguised agent to be Kal Jerico but my suspicions were dismissed quite quickly, though I had been wavering when I’d seen the agent used not a laspistol or a sabre. It was as the agent escaped and his head was smitten from his body that my hitch was itself killed. The lone biker, a female assailant, then steals away the artefact and we cut to Kal.

Though it was not always used as an agent of storytelling in Kal Jerico comics, eventually the narration was given to us by an unknown narrator. To be honest, I much preferred kal’s own thoughts. It doesn't demean the usefulness of narration however, in my opinion. It’s helps smoothen the frame-to-frame pace and fills you in on all of the essentials, much like the “sound effects” blend into the background after a while, and just help you enjoy the experience, adding weight, noise and motion. Before we cut to Kal however the narrator quite proudly tells us that these events, despite Kal’s obliviousness to them, will reunite him with several unwelcome acquaintances.
It’s like the narrator believes their very presence is the reason to get excited. And yes, the prospects of them being in this feature are very engaging, but they also ignite a certain scepticism that the story will hold together so well. Usually multiple villains just mean that one or more get overshadowed by the others, or that the story suffers – and that was something I was hoping not to be the case.

Anyway, Kal Jerico is up to his neck in trouble. Dangled upside-down and about to become mutant-rat chowder. His slacking on paying the guilders their dues is about to come back and bite him when, in quite a bad-ass changing of hands, a group of Delaques headed by Cheka clear the room of guilder forces. Kal is left to talk with Nemo and Cheka in private. Yet again, strong black and white artwork Wayne Reynolds allows us to bathe in the shady plans of Nemo and associates. Nemo briefs Kal that he is to retrieve the artefact that was lost to him. He gives him a locator ring to find it with. As Kal wanders off Nemo affirms to Cheka that he will be allowed to kill him upon successfully handing over the artefact. To round things up for chapter one, we see one of the Delaques has fled to Cardinal Crimson and his flock. Really one of their number the whole time, the “Delaque” reports what he knows, cluing the bloodthirsty Redemptionists (who look more like the gang than their previous appearance) to the whereabouts of Kal Jerico. More cheesy let’s-get-Jerico ramblings...

Chapter Two

Kal is now tracking the artefact through the sewers. For the umpteenth time we’re told of the dangerous giant spiders of the underhive. Okay, this was cooler when they were only hinted at. It’s not that they feature in almost every Kal Jerico comic now. I mean they feature as common wildlife to Necromunda as Rakghouls do on Taris (High-fives to any Knights of the Old Republic lovers out there). It’s just they’re continued to be made out to be apex predators, the worst thing the underhive has to offer. Really, they’re not though, they’re just really overplayed. Feature them in the frames or write them in as local wildlife into the narration, we don’t need both at once though! Keep it about the story, and quit with the spider fetishes.

Go away, Kenneth!

The first two pages of chapter two follow the usual, “Kal’s a honed predator in a hunting ground. Oops – blind luck” routine. That I don’t mind so much. More importantly it still flows well, even with some goofiness of dialogue, and in no time at all, Kal is confronted by the thief of the precious artefacts as he gains semblance of his situation. Finally the third of three villains is properly revealed (though it’s not too hard to guess) – Yolanda Catallus, and she looks mean. Given the hapless disposition Kal left her in last time she has her gang set about beating seven gallons of snot out of him. Now, I said back in my Nemo review that Kal got roughed up like inevitably happens to The Man With No Name in every one of his films. I did over-exaggerate; it was just a fist-throw to the face. Here though, he really does get laid into like in one of the dollars’ films, much to the sadistic joy of Yolanda.
As Kal is beaten to the stage where he wipes blood from his lips (the stage his braids usually become unknotted), Yolanda reveals what exactly the artefact is – the head of a datum drone  a lost piece of technology invaluable to the priesthood of mars. It doesn’t often get more 40k than this! Yolanda gloats of her catch and then demands to know who else is after it. This is where the crème de la crème of the episode comes in. Beautifully rich in the backdrop, atmosphere-building, incentive and hell, it’s just a great scene.

Right at the last moment, as Kal is put at gunpoint, Cardinal Crimson and friends come crashing into the equation, and all of the action is about to kick off.

Chapter Three

Here’s where I get what I came for. We find out more of Nemo’s profession. He’s developed to be the source of all Intel in Hive Primus as he sits in a room covered by every square inch in monitors with a constant feed on the current goings on. The way that he’s set up on chapter three’s opening page is comparable to his set up when we first met him in his namesake episode. Here we have superb writing, art and composition. We don’t really even need this, but oh god I wouldn't have done it any other way.

Meanwhile, the conflict in the lower levels has gotten underway. In the confusion, Yolanda and a few of her number mount their bikes and make a quick getaway. Determined not to fail his task, Jerico completes the most astounding set of acrobatics, diving, pulling off a Tarzan swing on one of the under-strung webbed cables, wall-jumping like batman, and then finally turning the tables by offing Yolanda from her bike and nabbing the artefact too. 

Fulfilling her gender-specific stereotype and overall attitude-hook, it would seem hell hath no fury like Yolanda’s temper and she jumps on the back of another of her ganger’s bikes and orders a rage-induced pursuit. With nothing left to kill, Cardinal Crimson sees the ever-distanced bikers and in an odd turn throws his fiery mace which then EXPLODES in the midst of enough bikers for him and his gang to give chase. How? I don’t know. He was holding it for far too long for it to be an explosive. Somehow the fire just instantly ignites a whole group, against all laws of logic! Then with some completely outlandish dialogue, they give chase. Yeah, I know it’s 40k, but some things should be reserved for more appropriate usage.

 Chapter Four

Now The Nemo Agenda has devolved into Wacky Races. The next couple of pages are transitional frames that exist purely to thin the race down to Kal, Yolanda and the Cardinal. All of the usual problems of incorporating these frames are present in this. We’re overloaded with different situations in which a biker is picked off. And some have been purely done to death by now. However, it’s a love-hate thing. And while local wildlife and hivequake tremors are frequenting just a little too often, I did like the hidden chem-pits and a frame which mirrors the space slug from The Empire Strikes Back!

Yolanda and Kal are now at the front, clashing blades, chainsword on sabre, with furious gusto! The lagging and still very much live Cardinal is driven to take measures to catch up. He cuts away Brother Beltane in his sidecar using his mace, which he somehow has a hold of again. Beltane plummets to his imminent doom, & there’s all sorts wrong with this, asides the continuity errors of the mace! First off, the sidecar has a mounted machinegun. It’s never been expressed that Cardinal Crimson personally wants to kill Kal Jerico, he just really wants him dead. Why doesn’t he order Brother Beltane to fire upon both Kal & Yolanda? Two; Cardinal Crimson has become too much like The Redeemer. He’s all kill-kill-kill, shout Emperor and let slip the dogs of war. He’s constant bloody noise, no reason to love or hate him, he's just annoying. Three; It already creeps to mind there’s no real reason for the Cardinal to be in the story. He isn't contributing anything to the story, he’s only making things worse with every frame he shouts more incandescent rubbish. Sure, he wants Kal dead. That’s it. He didn’t do a very good job when he failed to order Beltane to open fire. And then, to make matters even worse he plummets into an abyss of blackness where he’s caught up in a spider’s web, where we find out that he may well have been consumed. Is that a fitting end to a main character? No. It’s even implied it’s just being played for comic just desserts.
Yolanda also falls into the abyss, but all of her actions have been backed up. She’s a hot-headed ganger who Kal has already got on the nerves of. She detested him from the beginning anyway. She personally promised to inflict the very worst on Kal and furthermore he stole her precious loot.

Kal, unlike the other two, lands and makes his way to the drop-off point. Just as it would seem he’s safe we have a perspective change to Cheka, who is targeting Kal from an overhanging ledge. As he is about to pull the trigger, he himself is dispatched of to a bullet to the brain. As is often the case, Scabbs has Jerico’s back.
In the final page Kal rounds up his favour to Nemo as is honourable. There’s this brilliantly thick air of enmity between the two – both barely maintaining civil manners. As Kal leaves he tells Nemo to give his regards to Nemo. The barely contained hate seeping from Nemo is enough to make your hair stand on end. Yolanda is shown to have survived too, driven into even more bitterly into her vendetta with Kal. We’re left with the embers of war fanned for future appearances of these two villains.

Overall the story divides with each of the rogues’ gallery. While we find out nothing new about Yolanda, she felt and acted entirely right. Her entire arc was interesting and well told. Likewise Nemo the Faceless was developed as much as I’d hoped for. They both live up to expectations. I even think Yolanda slightly surpassed hers. Cardinal Crimson, however, was a massive disappointment, and truly didn't even need to appear in this. His character actually devolved. Yolanda arc gets 8 out of 10. Nemo’s arc, living up to expectation, gets 8.5 out of 10. Cardinal Crimson is given 3 out of 10. He could've been worse, but he was already pretty terrible. Finally, the story could have done with some downscaling. By the point of the “race”, it seemed henchmen were respawning to die in freshly OTT ways. On average, The Nemo Agenda scores 6.5 out of 10. Like The Phantom Menace it had some honest potential, but was brought down by a derogatively bad character and goofy sequences that need not have made it to post production.

Next up we have The Delivery and also +++Colours, which sees a not only a brief and triumphant return of Karl Kopinski, but also the inclusion of his brother Stefan.


No comments:

Post a Comment