Issue(s): Nomad #3
Nomad next heads to a pathology lab where they are dissecting the horse corpses that we saw were being used for drug smuggling last issue. Writer Fabian Nicieza really gets into his violent anti-hero character, writing lines like this while Nomad attacks the drug dealers in the lab: "His jaw pops like a balloon. I try not to smile. That wouldn't be polite."
Nomad next goes after Vanelli.
And there's the baby.
While juggling the baby, Nomad shoots Vanelli in the head and escapes. But Vanelli told Nomad that the prostitute was lying to him. When Nomad goes back to pressure her, she reveals that she was actually trying to blackmail one of her customers, who is a programmer for Cyberoptics, and also a crackhead customer of Vanelli's. Vanelli didn't want to lose the programmer as a revenue source, so he took the prostitute's baby to make her stop blackmailing him.
Nomad doesn't give the baby back, even after interrogating the programmer and finding out that his next stop is Juneau, Alaska.
Meanwhile, the Super Powers Commission decides that Nomad is getting too close to a project that the government has been developing for the past three years. They debate just assassinating him, but instead decide to call in Captain America to try to stop him.
I remain on the fence about this. James Fry's art, especially combined with the coloring (by Joe Rosas), has an appeal, being somewhere between cartoony and gritty. We were warned in issue #2 that we shouldn't take Nomad at face value. He's a violent killer, basically a sociopath. And while Nicieza really seems to be celebrating that character, i understand the text piece in issue #2 to mean that he's not meant to be a good guy. At the same time, that feels like a 'have your cake and eat it too' situation. Nomad can out-Punisher the Punisher and fans of that kind of violence can enjoy it on that level and the rest of us can treat it like a character study. But the main issue is the complexity of the story. It's both a strength and a weakness. A lot of names are thrown at us, and a lot of steps on the way to revealing what the conspiracy Nomad is uncovering is about. I read A LOT of Marvel comic books, and most of them have plots that are pretty simple. So i'm in a certain mindset when i sit down to read the average book, and when a story has a plot that is more complex to average, my first reaction is to throw up my hands and say "This is confusing!?". But if you take the time to figure out what's going on here, it all seems to have a logical progression. It nonetheless leaves me cold. Like, it's a lot of work, but is it worth it? We'll see the answer to that next issue (a resounding no!, i think) but even at this point it feels like there are a lot of unnecessary turns in the plot for what boils down to "Nomad shoots drug dealers".
The one thing that really will save the character is the introduction of this baby. As we'll see next issue, Nomad dresses the girl up in a Bucky costume and starts calling her Bucky. And that's both a cute and surreal angle, and also something that i think will ultimately lead Nomad out of the dark character arc that he's on. It also reminds me of Lone Wolf and Cub, which is never a bad thing. I never read Nomad regularly in realtime, but i always liked the fact that he carried around the baby Bucky. I'm kind of surprised to learn her origin. I'm especially surprised that we don't even learn the prostitute's name in this issue. I always assumed that the baby's parents were dead or maybe Nomad was searching for them. The idea that the mother is still alive and Nomad just took the girl away from her is pretty outrageous, really. But again, in line with the character Nicieza is writing.
So it's an interesting book that i'm having trouble nailing down my opinion about. If i were reviewing the whole mini-series in a single entry it would be a different story, because i have pretty definitive feelings about the ending. But more on that in the next issue's entry.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Nomad has traveled from Kentucky to Minneapolis by the start of this issue. For this entire mini-series, we have to watch Valerie Cooper's placement, since she's replaced by Mystique in Uncanny X-Men #266. I'm assuming that Gyrich's reference to "Avengers Mansion" can mean the sub-basement.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showBaby Bucky's Mom, Bucky (Julia Winter), Captain America, General Lewis Haywerth, Henry Peter Gyrich, Nomad, Valerie Cooper
Hi fnord, just a quick question: does the book read like it was written for the TPB or does Nicieza try and feed new readers clues to what has happened before?
Posted by: JSfan | August 12, 2015 3:15 PM
Each issue starts with a summary of the events of the previous issue. Which i actually found more helpful in understanding the story than actually reading the previous issue. But that's definitely not a 'writing for the trade' mentality, since normally they'd want to avoid recaps since it slows the flow and provides info that the reader just read. And each issue is definitely a separate chapter with its own settings and developments. Each issue is a complete story.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 12, 2015 3:25 PM
Nomad is a fascinating character. His story really gives a new lease on life for the Commission on Super-Powered Beings, or whatever it's called. The Comission is a priceless addition to the Marvel Universe, because it adds an element of much-needed realism that the Silver Age had efectively skipped. Of course the U.S. Government is going to do something about super-human beings, they exist in the hundreds and 90% of them in the USA (more than half of which, it seems, in New York). And yet after Gyrich was kicked out of the Avengers, and with the entire John Walker-as-Captain-America-Saga neatly wrapped up, the Comission needed something else to fuck up. Nomad is essentially a super-hero gone wrong due to a greedy government's manipulation. I think Nicieza does a nice job attributing his market-oriented 90's-type vigilantism to this shadowy conclave of ambitious bureaucrats. It's a lot less gratuitous than the Punisher's criminals-killed-my-spawn-so-I-have-the-right to-kill-criminals. It's more ambiguous than Solo's anti-terrorism terrorism (which'll grant him his own limited series!) And it's more realistic than Ghost Rider's I-kill-those-who-prey-on-the-innocent-'coz-I'm-the-freakin'-Hell-bred-Spirit-of-Vengeance-or-something-to-that-effect-that-somehow-lives-in-a-motorcycle.
Granted, much of Nomad's conflicted soul reflections and self-defeating moral ambiguities aren't as fascinating in these first issues as they'll be later on. His uneasy alliance with the Punisher and Daredevil during the Legacy of the Kingpin crossover will bring out this inner struggle in a highly dramatic fashion, placing his in particularly disturbing situations and forcing him to face genuine ethical dilemnas. As will his alliance with an Indian reservation under pursuit from the authorities, as his convincing intervention during the Rodney King riots. Some of his stories are quite touching--and they are almost always intriguing.
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | August 12, 2015 4:15 PM
"But the main issue is the complexity of the story. It's both a strength and a weakness."
I've said it before, but that's Fabian Nicieza's writing in a nutshell.
The idea of a baby being involved makes this sound eerily similar to the Cable series (even though this obviously came first.)
A good rule of thumb to remember about Nomad is that both before and after this period have him showing signs of severe mental instability. Nicieza might be following that route too. I haven't read enough issues of the series to know for sure. Even if not, Nomad's state of mind is something to consider when evaluating his vigilantism.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | August 12, 2015 6:07 PM
Fnord, Bucky's mother appears again, so she should be listed as a Character Appearing, although AFAIK she was never named.
Posted by: Michael | August 12, 2015 7:50 PM
Transparent Fox: Silver Age Marvel really did not overlook the government's interest in super-powered beings, given the military's pursuit of the Hulk, the congressional pressure on Tony Stark to divulge the secrets of Iron Man's armor, or the police's distrust of Spider-Man. Several Early Fantastic Four and Avengers stories also show varied military, law enforcement, and military interaction with those two teams.
The issue is how the government infrastructure, resources, and technology has changed over 50+ years. When Eisenhower is warning the American people in 1961 of the potential of the Military-Industrial Complex, that concept and it's coordinated authority is a relatively new idea, whereas by the 1980s, the government has clearly built it up to a troubling degree, at which point, the inclusion of Gyrich and other similar government oversight in Marvel Comics is much more approperiate.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 12, 2015 9:11 PM
@Michael, that kind of raises a conundrum since i don't want "Baby Bucky's Mom" as a Character. I'll wait until i see her other appearance(s). It might just merit a Reference.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 12, 2015 9:43 PM
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