Nemesis: The Imposters #3

With only one issue left, “Nemesis: The Imposters” begins to wrap things up in this issue with the larger plot becoming apparent. Except not really. Things aren’t that simple with Ivan Brandon and Tom Tresser. For every revelation, there are two new questions. Sure, we learn about the function of the fake Joker from the first issue, but that only raises more questions about the men who tried to use that to throw Tresser off his game.

Everything in this comic (and the series) comes back to the idea of an imposter. The Joker wasn’t the real Joker. Tom Tresser isn’t really Tom Tresser. Seemingly legitimate, respected businessmen are criminals. No one is who they appear to be save Wonder Woman, who is, at best, an observer, much like the seemingly real Tom Tresser. The actors in this story are all fakes, imposters, cheap con men, while the real people are on the sidelines. If everyone in the story is an imposter, how real is the story?

That question isn’t asked in the comic, but ties into the storytelling, which shifts through scenes through shared questions as Tresser takes the place of various men that are part of a criminal organization, his thought process coming unhinged in the process. By moving through so many identities, the concept of an identity becomes looser, less solid or real. And, since he’s one of our windows into the story, the less real reality becomes for him, the less real the story is for us. It’s an interesting effect.

But, it’s also one that lowers the stakes somewhat. With an uncertain base, the issue lacks an essential drama. Knowing that things could shift at any given moment makes even the most violent of acts seem transient, unimportant. If it’s not real for certain, does it matter? If Tom Tresser isn’t Tom Tresser, why should we be concerned with him? The comic rests on these questions and, hopefully, next months’ finale answers them.

Cliff Richards’s line work is soft and fluid, suiting the unreal aspect of the comic. His storytelling in the pages where Tresser continually changes identities is some of his best as he gets across the point visually with the scene resting entirely upon him. Characters seem to wear shadows in this comic, always partly hidden, never completely open or revealed in a clever touch. He’s really shown off his abilities in this series.

Strangely, the weakest characters are Batman and Wonder Woman, neither of whom seem to fit entirely into the visual style of the book. They’re too ludicrous and obvious for the more subdued world presented here. A scene where Batman walks through a laser grid is almost flat-out awful the way that Richards presents it. His cape fluttering all around, it’s absurd, almost unbelievable.

With a lot of questions remaining, “Nemesis: The Imposters” #3 sets up the finale well, but, if “Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape” was any indication, not everything will get answered. But, that’s okay, because Brandon’s writing is bold and confident, unafraid to leave parts of the comic to the reader to fill in. Maybe just asking the question is enough. We’ll see.

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