This comic is something a little bit different from Marvel. Instead of being generated by the comicbook division, it is an outgrowth from one of their licensors. The videogame was created by Electronic Arts in association with Marvel's brand-new game production division, this fighting franchise has first- line Marvel heroes going up against a brand-new band of characters developed by EA's creative designers.
In Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (both the game and the comic), an alien genius is experimenting in creating a class of diverse, perfect super- warriors. His creations are masterful and powerful, but he and his creations must contend with the Marvel superheroes when the mad scientist begins his experiments with earthlings.
The story starts out on an alien spaceship with a group of human-looking scientists experimenting on some very tiny lizard-like creatures. They've injected the docile-looking creatures with some type of serum and watch the resulting metamorphous as the creatures swiftly evolve into fearsome fighting creatures and die fighting each other. All the while this is going on, the scientist's ship is being attacked and boarded by another group of sinister- looking aliens.
Waiting until the last moment to make good his escape, the lead scientist, Dr, Rorekel, winds up injecting one of his assistants with the serum so that the lad will morph into a fighting beast and fight off the invader, thus giving the good doctor the opportunity to slip out an air lock into an escape pod. Once on the escape pod, Rorekel and what is left of his staff make their way towards the nearest planet, which just happens to be Earth.
Flash forward some 2,000 years later we drop in on one Mr. Ben Grimm who is standing outside Alicia Master's apartment in the rain, apologizing for the fact that he is several hours late for their date. Apparently he got himself caught up in another one of Reed's experiments, and Reed simply lost track of the time, leaving Ben holding some piece of equipment or other and, well, now Ben is late and Alicia is not answering her phone.
Grabbing a pizza, Ben gravitates to a local comicbook shop and in the company of a group of young fans who are doing what young comicbook fans do, they are playing a game of "who's stronger than who" and it seems that The Thing isn't at the top of their list. They try using this tactic as a way to taunt Grimm, but he isn't playing, and gives them the stock answers ("There's always someone stronger, faster, smarter...Point is...I'm still around...'cause I got friends...").
Only, Ben is talking through his hat, and he really is a very lonely guy, and he walks out of the comic shop still alone, and in the rain, outside of Alicia's apartment, he looks up to see a bright light, and suddenly it's all over for our rocky hero.
Switch to the rainy rooftops over Manhattan. Wolverine and Electra are having a knock-down, drag-out fight, with no quarter given or asked. Now why are these two heroes fighting you may ask. Are they mad at each other? Did one turn villain? Well no, near as we can tell, this is just the sort of thing two psychopathic killers who are the best at what they can be and sort of on friendly terms with each other do for a workout. They are playing folks, that's all.
Only this isn't really playing. Electra is taunting Logan with the fact that even though he should be the bestest, badest killer on the block, he still has a deep-seated streak of morality that holds him back from achieving his true potential, something that Logan knows, and is pissing him off. Just as both are about to deliver the killing blow to each other there is a bright light, and both are snatched up into the sky. The pawns are gathered, now it is time to go to work.
Inside the ship, it is the same Dr. Rorekel (none the worse for wear, 2,000+ years later), and The Thing and Spider-Man are strapped down to some sort of table (Electra and Wolverine are bother there as well). All four get injected with the Dr.'s serum and we witness the effects of the enhanced drug doing its devious work on our heroes. Apparently 2,000 years of testing have perfected the serum as it seems to now be sentient, or at least it unlocks those deep dark voices inside the heads of the heroes that tells them that they should be using their powers to their full potentials, and not holding back; that they should simply take what they want, whenever they want because they are all (each) the best at what they do, and no one can stop them. So saying, the Dr. puts the four of them into a room, and sets them upon each other to fight. Which is where this episode abruptly ends.
It is not that this is a bad comic, but this issue is all set-up. Writer Greg Pak needs all 22 pages of Rentato Arlem's art to get us, the readers, to the point where we know what's going on (hey, am I the only one who remembers the days when Stan could tell an entire story in eight pages?) Anyway, I really shouldn't complain, I knew from the get-go that this was going to take six issues to tell. Still, that makes for a slow ramp-p until the action kicks in.
All of which isn't to say that this is a bad comic, it is just that if you've bought into the book you have to understand from the get-go that this is simply a licensing tool, designed to cross-promote the comicbook with the game, and hopefully to send fans of one medium over to spend what's left of their dough on the other. Nothing that is going to happen here will truly affect the characters in their regular continuity titles, this one is just to separate us from our cash, and fill a hole in the publishing schedule.
Perhaps this is a cynical attitude to have in regards to this comic, but that doesn't mean that we still shouldn't be able to have some fun with it, and learn a bit about our favorite heroes. Thus I would be remis if I didn't say that both Pak and Arlem do fine work. This initial episode of this series wasn't all bad (in spite of what I said above), and I really do want to see where he takes us. So I guess they did their job well enough.
Oh yeah, I do have another (slight) problem, and that is the coloring. This entire book is dark and dismal (yea, I know that it sets a tone, but it seems that there are simply way too many "color" comics that are done in duo-tone (muted dark colors with only small splashes of actual color). Again, I'm from the day when comics were "All in color for a dime" (OK, OK, when I started buying them they were $0 .12, but you get my point). I mean, I understand what is going on here, but enough is enough already.