The collected edition of Nemesis Book 1, art by Kevin O'Neill

Nemesis the Walock is a strip from 2000 AD featuring the demonic alien Nemesis leading resistance to the Termight (Earth in the far future) empire, led by the fanatical Torquemada, who wants to wipe out all alien life. It was created by writer Pat Mills and artist Kevin O'Neill, and combined science fiction with "sword and sorcery" fantasy, and allowed Mills to satirically work through his feelings about his Catholic education, and his ideas about Chaos vs. Order as an alternative moral conflict to Good vs. Evil. O'Neill's art flourished on this strip, with his depictions of the grotesque, bizarre and alien influenced by the cartooning of Ken Reid. Later artists on the strip included the equally bizarre, and if anything more disturbing, John Hicklenton.

The character first appeared in 1980 in a one-off, "Terror Tube", in which Nemesis, of whom all that was shown was the outside of his car, the Blitzspear, escaped from Torquemada through a complex underground travel tube system. Mills and O'Neill created this strip after a tube-chase scene they had done in Ro-Busters had annoyed IPC management for some reason. Torquemada was at this point chief of the Tube Police, and he and his Terminators were drawn as a cross between the Spanish Inquision and the Ku Klux Klan to allow Mills and O'Neill to get away with making the police the villains.

"Terror Tube" ran under the banner of "Comic Rock", the first in a series of strips supposedly inspired by rock music, in this case "Going Underground" by The Jam. The only other "Comic Rock" strip was another Nemesis story, the two part "Killer Watt" (apparently inspired by an album called Killer Watts, artist unknown) later the same year, in which Nemesis was pursued through a bizarre teleport system based on a bureaucratic telephone exchange. Again, Nemesis went unseen. It ended with Torquemada's body destroyed, but the Grand Master's spirit survived as a phantom.

Nemesis got his first full series in 1981. Nemesis appeared in person for the first time, with a demonic appearance based on that of his Blitzspear. Torquemada was now Grand Master of Termight, and his genocidal ambitions towards the rest of the galaxy were revealed. This followed a false start by Mills and O'Neill - the first few episodes of "The Gothic Empire", which was abandoned for now as the creators opted for a better introductory story.

This was followed by Book 2 in 1982, in which Terminators infiltrated Nemesis's alien alliance in an effort to stave off peace overtures from the aliens. This series was drawn by Jesús Redondo while O'Neill got stuck into the third book, which followed in 1983. The war between Termight and the aliens continued in a series of battle scenes in alien environments, in which the aliens were assisted by Nemesis's magic, and the Terminators used giant siege robots, one of whom was Mek-Quake, the bulldozer droid from Ro-Busters in a new body. Meanwhile, Nemesis's wife Chira was murdered by the Terminators, but his baby son Thoth survived by using his magical powers to convince one of the killers he was a human baby.

Book 4 in 1984 began with the two episodes of "The Gothic Empire" which O'Neill had previously drawn, but after that the series was drawn by Bryan Talbot, after O'Neill had left for the better pay available in American comics. The Goths were aliens who had modelled their society on Victorian earth, but Torquemada, oblivious to such flattery, was determined to destroy them anyway. The phantom Grand Master plotted to build a new body for himself, contructed Frankenstein-style out of murdered Goths, but when his Terminators discovered their Grand Master was now part alien, they killed him. This series introduced another ex-Ro-Buster, Ro-Jaws, who became Nemesis's valet, and then the ABC Warriors, the team of war-droids led by Ro-Jaws' former comrade Hammerstein.

Book 5, "The Vengeance of Thoth", followed in 1985. Nemesis's son Thoth used time-travel technology to pluck Torquemada out of an earlier time, before his death, so he could take his revenge for his mother's death, but this only led to Torqemada re-seizing power. Thoth also brought Satanus, the tyrannosaur formerly seen in Judge Dredd, forward to his own time, and caused havoc on Termight, but destabilised the artificial black hole that Termight's empire depended on. That led to Book 6, "Torquemurder", in 1986, in which Torquemada pursued Thoth into the Time Wastes, followed by Nemesis and the ABC Warriors.

The series then split in two. The ABC Warriors getting their own series as they explored the Time Wastes and tried to restabilise the black hole. Meanwhile, O'Neill returned to draw "Torquemada the God" in 1987, in which Torquemada, now convinced of his immortality, re-established control over Termight. A mysterious rotting illness led to the discovery that Thoth was hunting down and killing all his previous incarnations throughout history - one of whom was the original Spanish Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada. Book 7, "The Two Torquemadas", followed, drawn by John Hicklenton, in which Torquemada, Nemesis and his sidekick Purity Brown went back to the time of the Spanish Inquisition, and Torquemada killed Thoth.

Book 8, "Purity's Story", drawn by David Roach, followed in 1988, which told how Purity Brown got involved with Nemesis and his alien resistance, and Nemesis's motivations were revealed be rather less pure than previously thought. Nemesis, as a follower of the anarchic religion/philosophy of Khaos, fought Torquemada because he was an advocate of order, and good and evil didn't come into it. In Book 9, "Deathbringer", later the same year, Mills and Hicklenton took Nemesis and Torquemada's ever more personal enmity to Thatcher's Britain, in a grim story with an ambiguous ending.

The strip then went on a long hiatus, with only a couple of short stories drawn by Paul Staples and Clint Langley in 1994 and 1994 before Book 10, "The Final Conflict", in 1999. Henry Flint drew the majority of the series, with O'Neill returning for the final episode, in which Nemesis and Torquemada were fused together into a comet-like thing, doomed to roam the universe forever. This final Nemesis story was followed by a series featuring ABC Warrior Deadlock, also drawn by Flint.


Online referenceEdit

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