Throwback Review: “Dark Nemesis – New Year’s Evil” (DC Comics, Jolly Jinglings Special)

Welcome back to Jolly Jinglings, The Splintering’s celebration of all things gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Written by Dan Jurgens and featuring artwork by CrissCross (aka Chris Williams), the book is part of DC Comics’ “New Year’s Evil” event of late 1997/early 1998, which was a loosely knit set of tie-in books that highlighted some of the biggest DC villains, like Darkseid, The Scarecrow, The Flash’s Rogues, and… Dark Nemesis. They’re Titan villains, apparently…

In which vest pocket does Dr. Palmer keep that ID card?

At this time in post-Crisis, Pre-Flashpoint DC Comics continuity, a de-aged version of The Atom (Ray Palmer type) is the current leader of the Titans. Since he’s younger, he of course has to have a redesigned costume, complete with a pouched vest and hair sticking out of the top of his cowl. In any case, The Atom spends a few pages at the outset of the book to exposit the dangers of the dastardly quintet known as… Dark Nemesis! 

Dark Nemesis is centered around a five-member team of super-villains: Axis (Woman with psychic powers and leader of the team), Vault (oversized mute who can create energy prisons), Carom (fast guy), Scorcher (a Spanish speaking fire-lady), and Blizard (an ice-powered lizard person. Get it?). The Atom manages to secure the release of an imprisoned, lesser-known Titan named Risk, to help him ensure that the at-large Scorcher is unable to spring her four teammates from prison. 

Obligatory Spanish outbursts because Latina character

The action of the story mostly follows Scorcher from this point, who manages to infiltrate the prison and stage her breakout attempt, which leads to a large-scale battle between the Dark Nemesis team, prison security, and of course the Atom and Risk. There are some moments of subplot that tie into the threads of the ongoing Titans series at the time, which don’t add much to the book in isolation, but they also don’t cause too much confusion for those who readers who aren’t invested in 1997 Titans lore (raises hand). 

That’s enough of the story discussion without spoiling too much. Otherwise, the artwork isn’t top-notch superhero fare, but it is very lively, and matches the quick pacing of the story. The action scenes have a lot of energy, and the layouts are dynamic. I will say that Scorcher’s face in particular looks wonky from time to time, though.

What is wrong with Scorcher’s lips?! Fix your face!

So what exactly does this New Year’s Evil story have to do with the New Year’s Eve/Day holiday? Nothing. There’s a bit of background decoration early in the book, and that’s about it.

Is this particular chapter in the New Year’s Evil collection still worth tracking down over twenty years later? Meh, not if you’re not a least somewhat familiar with what was going on with the Titans book around that time. It’s a largely forgettable tale, in a forgettable era of the Titans, and featuring a largely forgettable hero (Risk). The titular Dark Nemesis team is also a fairly generic hodgepodge of villains, and other than The Atom, none of the characters in this book had much staying power. Risk, in fact, has a series of rather unfortunate interactions with Superboy Prime to look forward to. 

Erm… Happy New Year?

Yeah, we’re all pretty much ready to leave.

Thanks for reading!

To check out more of our Jolly Jinglings content, go here. Otherwise, please consider following The Splintering on social media or bookmarking the site for more independent entertainment news, views, and commentary! Happy holidays!

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