Review: Nemesis The Warlock – Deviant Edition / Author: Pat Mills / Artist: Kevin O’Neill / Publisher : Rebellion / Release Date: September 30th
If you weren’t lucky enough to grow up reading British comics in the '80s, it is likely that Nemesis The Warlock passed you by. The infamous alien diabolist is a freedom fighter who combats the oppressive and xenocidal Termight Empire, which consists solely of the human race. This band of villains is led by the insane Grandmaster Tomas De Torquemada, and the entire work is drawn in a grand and amazing style, with an over-the-top storyline and very wild dialogue. This is a heavy metal rock anthem of a book; expect no hidden meanings here.
The core story mixes fantasy tropes (warlocks, spells and monsters), medieval imagery and sci-fi coolness to create a messy but fun action adventure tale. Pat Mill’s storytelling really hasn’t changed over the years: the narrative is about as subtle as a brick and boils down to a polemic about the dangers of racism, fascism and not questioning authority. Though this may sound like it could swiftly become tedious, what saves it is artist Kevin O’Neill's detailed, busy and surreal art style. We get a powerful sense of a galaxy in flames, where a relentless and overbearing enemy seeks to destroy all diversity from the cosmos.
Rather than reprinting the (black and white) run from 2000AD, the Deviant Edition collects the version of the strip produced by Eagle Comics. These were colourised and shrunk down into the size of an American comic book. This also means that one of the stories is drawn by Jesus Redono instead of O’Neill. Luckily, it’s a great little tale about giant alien spiders running a prison, and Redono’s epic fantasy style fits the adventure very well indeed. The real treat comes, though, with the reproductions of O’Neill’s work; here the colours are stark and simple, and complement the striking style of the art perfectly.
The collection also includes Tomb of Torquemada, which was only ever printed as part of a giant poster edition and is therefore pretty hard to find, having long peeled off many a student bedsit wall. It’s the usual sort of affair; Nemesis turns up and beats seven bells out of Torquemada and is interesting only for its rarity.
Nemesis The Warlock: Deviant Edition is not for everyone; the narrative is very simplistic and the main appeal is the artwork rather than the storytelling. Fans of wild space fantasy art, especially those who prefer their science fiction with lots of skulls, will enjoy this. If you’re looking for a complex and subtle comic strip story however, this is not for you.