The Complete Nemesis The Warlock Volume 1 – Books 1-4 by Pat Mills, Kevin O’Neill, Jesus Redondo and Bryan Talbot (book review).

‘Nemesis The Warlock’ was one of ‘2000AD’s oddest series when I was younger reading the title. Reading it again now is a reminder of how prevalent the series was about prejudice. Hardly surprising really when it was based off the Spanish Inquisition and even more peculiar in that humans were the villains of the piece and it was the aliens that were the rebels. Mind you, if you look at ‘Strontium Dog’, humans were by and large the enemy there as well.


As writer Pat Mills describes in the Nemesis introduction, it was him and artist Kevin O’Neill who want wanted to see how far things could be stretched, having been told that a particular ‘Ro-Busters’ storyline was too weird and complicated, to see how far they could go and found an audience. The first two stories focused on the villain of the piece, Tomas Torquemada, who ultimately ended up becoming immaterial after being caught in a teleportation stream. In an odd quirk from this, he could possess other bodies later on. Reading this collected volume through, I’m pretty sure my reading habit ended after the third book as I have little memory of Nemesis after he returned to his home planet and his wife, Chira, so a lot of this feels like fresh ground and a reminder of the rest. Having only a few pages a week some thirty years ago makes an entire work in one book a rapture for the hungry soul wanting to learn more than even the Quality Comics colour version got.

This was the foundation that ‘Nemesis The Warlock’ was built on. Oddly, this alien didn’t appear in his own title for several weeks and a little longer before he even spoke. We first had a demonstration of his powers after he was captured, stripped of his armour – he frequently appeared naked – and hung by the neck as he saw off his murderers. As later shown, Nemesis wasn’t all-powerful but he was formidable. As such, it built up his presence to prove he was the deadly foe of Torquemada, who disliked him and his kind, purely because they were different.

It isn’t until Nemesis returns home in the third book here that we see what kind of people these Warlocks are. If ever there was truly an alien species, then the Warlocks were up there, thanks to the manifestations of Kevin O’Neill’s artwork. The male of the species were bipeds and the females centauroids and really a lot more powerful. Their magic might possible be a decent expression of Clarke’s Law than anything.

Torquemada was practically a permanent thorn in Nemesis’ rear, acquiring different bodies to attack him throughout. This storyline could easily have stayed with such a duelling with a couple of exceptions, namely the return of Ro-Jaws and Hammer-Stein and the ABC Warriors, firmly cements Nemesis in their reality. Thought lost and split up over the years, first one and then the other robots were brought back and changed how Nemesis would operate in the future,

The artwork got considerable darker when Bryan Talbot took over the artistic reins and aliens took on an earthly guise as they adopted a somewhat Victorian steampunk look of 20th century Earth that Torquemada infiltrated and Nemesis and Ro-Jaws weren’t far behind. With both of them masquerading as humans, it made for an incredible change in looks for both of them. It also allowed Nemesis to finally be seen with him mouth open, the vertical slots down his neck finally being shown not to be it. The ultimate twist by Torquemada’s followers to imprison their leader in an immobile body than risk being turned on ultimately proves their own undoing but in a beautiful manner in that even they weren’t stupid enough to think they would follow such a man without some precautions.

Ultimately, though, the fact that Torquemada was imprisoned in an alien body also proved him somewhat of a hypocrite to his own followers and his own final sacrifice. This laid open the way for Nemesis’ own son, Thoth, to open the wounds, after believing his own father had ignored the death of his own mother and his wife to rescue the galaxy.

Added to this volume is also Nemesis’ own origin from the 2000AD Summer Specials, a variety of cover art and pin-ups. I should point out that this volume is also out of print and if you want to get it before it completely sells out then you should do so because next month, I start digging into volume 2.

‘Nemesis The Warlock’ hammers on the door of good taste but is carried on by Pat Mills’ incredible scripts and only three artists. Completely black-humoured, it is an odd storyline in the ‘2000AD’ canon that definitely deserves a second look and a huge question mark as to how long before a CGI film is made of this canny alien and his human spirited…er…nemesis, Torquemada, especially in the days of early home computer games, Nemesis had one of his own. As Pat Mills also points out, everything was done to show that all the rules could be broken and still work. It did and still does. Don’t forget to hold your hands out for the chains and be truly flogged by this fantastic work.

GF Willmetts

(pub: 2000AD. 320 page graphic novel. Price: about £ 8.00 (UK) if you know where to look. ISBN: 978-1-906735-94-4)
check out website: www.2000adonline.com


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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