Great British Comic Book Characters: Nemesis The Warlock
“I am the shape of things to come, the lord of the flies, holder of the sword sinister… the death-bringer, I am the one who waits on the edge of your dreams… I am Nemesis”
Borag Thungg my fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo, and welcome to another instalment of “Great British Comic Book Characters.” In our last episode we introduced you to the UK’s biggest selling anthology comic of all time, 2000AD and its much celebrated principal star Judge Dredd, from this episode onwards we shall be exploring in detail the plethora of other characters that make up this diverse and innovative weekly comic book compendium.
Demonic alien entity Nemesis made his first appearance in 2000AD in prog #167 in July of 1980, created by writer Pat Mills and artist Kevin O’Neill.
Protagonist Nemesis is a fire-breathing alien who opposes the tyrannical and oppressive subjugation and systematic extermination of alien races by the evil human Termight empire and their fascist leader Tomas De Torquemada. His self appointed pursuit of justice against the xenophobic human forces began after discovering that his wife Chira and son Thoth had been murdered by termite’s terminators under orders from Torquemada himself.
2000AD prog #167 first introduced us to our eponymous alien advocate in a short story entitled “Comic Rock: Terror Tube.” This initial adventure saw our freedom fighting anti-hero escape from the clutches of the then Chief of tube Police, Torquemada, after a sustained chase through a complex tube travel system on a planet named Termight (later revealed to be Earth.) Though for his first ever appearance he was strangely conspicuous by his absence, all the reader saw of Nemesis was the exterior of his ship, the Blitzspear.
Though short, Terror Tube set the scene for the continuing crusade of Nemesis and his lifelong antagonist Torquemada, the Termight Police were modelled closely after the Spanish Inquisition and extreme right wing factions such as the Nazis and Ku Klux Klan (Torquemada himself was named after notorious Spanish Inquisitor Tomas De Torquemada) which made it easy for the reader to easily empathise with the plight of the subjugated alien races and the violent struggle of our titular lead Nemesis. Though Nemesis himself is far from pure and virtuous, with his human aide and confidante Purity Brown ultimately realising that his mission of vengeance was used as an excuse to cover his own hatred of Humans and his mission to exterminate them from the known Universe.
Our main antagonist Torquemada began his evil quest as a young boy, embarking on a crusade to rid the Galaxy of aliens. Betrayed by the crusade’s leader he was sold into slavery, ending up as a minion for an alien race for over five long years. This scarred him badly leaving what little compassion and humility he possessed to be discarded, with his hatred of other lifeforms outside his own, intensified tenfold.
After his stint as tube police chief, he eventually rose to become the overriding leader of the entire Termight empire, with the assistance of his superficially religious police force The Terminators. Later in the series he became a powerful phantom like figure after losing his physical form in a bizarre teleporting accident. He continued his existence and zealous quest through the possessing of a succession of host bodies, though these would have to be replaced often as the host itself would rot at an escalated rate.
The majority of Nemesis’ crusade appeared as “Books” with the odd short story intercutting in various annuals, one-offs and specials. Book one entitled “The World Of Termight” introduced the leading players and set the scene for the epic galaxy spanning war. Each subsequent book would add more layers to the expansive storyline, culminating in book ten, “The Final Conflict” which saw both Nemesis and Torquemada killed at the culmination of the tale.
Like most of Pat Mills creations (Judge Dredd especially) he drew on real world politics and inherent human prejudices of the unknown. Nemesis spoke on many literary levels other than the ones accepted in the comic strip at face value. Bigotry, hatred and fascism were all explored in detail, and none of the leads were of great moral fibre, including our “hero” Nemesis, who is tainted by much the same abhorrence and repugnance as his arch enemy Torquemada, ultimately leaving this dystopian story exceedingly ambiguous.
Splundig Vur Thrigg…