Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Oh Yeah, I Forgot That Was Great - No. 1: Nemesis The Warlock

Being a child of the eighties, the first comic I became properly obsessed with was 2000AD (and quite rightly so). Obviously, characters like Judge Dredd and Sam Slade Robo Hunter were always big winners but the one that I remember being particularly drawn to as a child was Nemesis The Warlock. He was a truly alien-looking, demonic, cloven-hoofed sort of a creature and, in the issue that first really drew him to my attention*, he was fighting a spiky, armour clad villain called Thomas de Torquemada who was instructing him to "Repent or die!" on the cover.

It was partly the fantastic artwork of Bryan Talbot that drew me to the character but it was also the fact that the whole thing appeared to be utterly alien, utterly fantastical and utterly divorced from anything resembling real life. I was already a confirmed sci-fi fan by that point so it wasn't as if that needed confirming but I'd say that, from that point onwards, there was no going back from the path of comics fandom.

Sadly, in the end, it's a somewhat disappointing strip. It becomes confusing mired in a time travel story that kind of forgets it's a time travel story and ultimately limps to a rather disappointing squib of an ending. It did, however, attract some truly distinctive and different artists during its run; all of them great talents in very different ways. From the cartoony and scratchily inventive style of co-creator Kevin O'Neill to the glorious detail of the aforementioned Bryan Talbot through to the grotesque body horror of John Hicklenton (who sadly passed away earlier this year), it was always fascinating to look at even if it did skate over the edges of coherence from time to time.

So if you like your comics to be odd and alien, give it a go. While the storyline doesn't necessarily hold up in the end, it's warped sense of humour and inventive visuals certainly do. Credo!

* Issue 404 published in 1985 containing episode 18 of Book four - The Gothic Empire. No, I'm not that Rain Man-ish - I looked it up.


cerebus660 said...

I used to LOVE Nemesis The Warlock, especially the original Kevin O'Neill stories. I even had a Nemesis T-shirt which I wore to gigs and usually provoked comments along the lines of "What the hell's that?"

That Baldy Fella said...

Yeah, it's a classic. I love Kevin o'Neill's stuff but it's the Talbot art that really does it for me.