“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 (Torquemada himself was named after notorious Spanish Inquisitor Tomas De Torquemada) which made it rather straightforward for the reader to 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 primarily used as an excuse to cover his own hatred of Humanity and his mission to exterminate them from the known Universe.
Our main antagonist Torquemada began his contemptible 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 thrall for an alien race for over five long years. This scarred him badly leaving what little compassion and humility he possessed to be discarded, and 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 possession of a succession of host bodies, though these would have to be replaced often as the ostensibly undead host would decay at an escalated rate.
Nemesis’ continuing crusade takes place initially across ten volumes, with the odd short story inter-cutting 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 chapter would add more layers to the expansive storyline, culminating in book ten, “The Final Conflict” which saw both Nemesis and Torquemada deceased at the culmination of the tale.
Like all of Pat Mills’ classic creations (Judge Dredd especially) he drew on real world politics and inherent human prejudices. Nemesis spoke on many 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 tale exceedingly ambiguous.
Splundig Vur Thrigg!
Nemesis the Warlock and all imagery copyright: Rebellion
Borag Thungg fellow fans of fantastic fiction, and welcome to another eccentrically enthralling episode of Great British Comic-Book Characters our occasional series that aims to acquaint you with some of our very favourite fictional figures originating from this tiny island known as the United Kingdom.
The British comic book scene has been active as long as its more famous American counterpart, and as long and varied as its history has been… very few costumed characters of the traditional spandex clad Superhero have emerged from this sceptred isle. That’s not to say that no characters of heroic nature have emanated from the UK, just that they tend not to follow in the footsteps of their more audacious USA brethren. Though long time allies and compeers, our differences couldn’t be more palpable, especially in the wonderful world that is comic books.
And, oh boy, Marshal Law is the epitome of this disparity, a fascistic, radically authoritarian creation that actually falls in line with a rather large amount of stylistically created fictional persona that have emanated from this country over several decades of both comic-books and general fiction (film, television, novels). Politically charged and anti-authoritarian issues have always had the biggest influences in the UK’s most popular comic book characters, from the obviously quasi-fascist vision of future law enforcement that is Judge Dredd, through recalcitrant characters such as Zenith, V, and Nemesis the Warlock, British comic creators have always revelled in counterculture paradigms.
Marshal Law is a government sanctioned “Hero Hunter” a super-powered member of the San Futuro police Department, San Futuro is a sprawling metropolis from the near future that rose from the ashes of San Francisco following a devastating earthquake. Marshal revels in his position as a Cape killer, with his raison d’etre revolving around taking down rogue Superheroes, Marshal derives an unhealthy amount of gratification and joy from this task, utilising an almost unlimited arsenal of ridiculously over the top weaponry/ heavy ordnance (and good ol’ fashion fisticuffs) he is uncompromising in both his use of violence and lack of emotional wealth… a true sociopath.
Marshal’s secret identity is Joe Gilmore, an ex super-soldier, who is overwhelmed with a malign sense of self loathing due to his manifest super powers. In this alternate future Genetic engineering has swept San Futuro and the USA at large, with most of America’s armed forces utilising the science to create the ultimate Ubermensch.
Though, the act of saddling the military populace with overt powers also led to an increase in detrimental psychological effects on the subjects, psychosis is prevalent amongst the majority of the soldiers, also the inability to control or understand their wildly chaotic powers. Upon leaving military servitude, these super powered individuals would often take up the cape and cowl to become Superheroes and yet their gradually diminishing mental capabilities and lack of remorse or any sense of compassion led them down a darker path more akin to the classic SuperVillain as opposed to the heroic archetype, which essentially leads to Marshal Law’s emergence as a hero hunter, whose own advanced abilities and detestation of genetic super-beings lead him down a violent, pitiable path of reckless redemption for his own self loathing due to his inherited mutation.
Marshal Law was first unleashed onto unsuspecting Brit comic-book fans by Epic Comics in October 1987, a six issue mini-series created by 2000AD stalwarts Kev O’ Neill and the legendary Pat Mills. The resulting series led on to a fantastic one shot “Marshal Law Takes Manhattan” in which he proceeded to eliminate perfectly parodied variants of Marvel characters. It’s these satirical parody’s of mainstream American Superheroes that has been a marvellous mainstay of his adventures throughout the years, DC characters such as Batman and Superman have also felt the sting of Marshal’s wrath with some absolutely fantastic and (especially in the case of Batman’s variant) outlandishly bizarre versions of the beloved heroes.
Marshal Law is an extreme satire of Superhero/Anti-hero tropes, mixed with outlandish humour, feverishly idiosyncratic art by the fantastic Kev O’Neill and the legendary Pat Mills at his politico anti-establishment finest. As long as you’re not easily offended, and can tolerate seeing your favourite Superhero get shot, stabbed, decapitated, electrocuted crushed, smushed, blown up, immolated and generally wiped the floor with by its titular star – Marshal Law… then this comes highly recommended!