Review of Nemesis the Warlock (1980)

Sequential art with text

Kevin O’Neill (artist), Pat Mills (writer).

Read in 2022.

This review refers to the first three of the series’s ten “books”, as collected in the “Deviant Edition” with added colour.

Nemesis, styled a dark lord by his friends, is a zealous freedom fighter from an extraterrestrial species of satyrs and centaurs with magical powers. Nemesis opposes a human zealot, Torquemada, who leads the intolerant far-future empire of “mighty Terra” or Termight.

The first book is stylish science fiction but the writing decays to episodic sword and sorcery, centred on a static personal rivalry between Nemesis and Torquemada. This rivalry drives all developments. There is intriguing visual design work and evocative worldbuilding scattered throughout, but it’s all in bits and pieces, like the script. Nemesis’s species, the warlocks, have arrow-shaped heads, a cartoonish detail built to catch the eye in greyscale publication. The series first appeared in the magazine 2000 AD and cross-promotes other titles in that magazine.

I read Nemesis the Warlock for its large and enduring influence on Rick Priestley’s Warhammer 40,000. It provides worthwhile historical context, but the comic is no more coherent than 40K.

References here: “Deathwing” (1990).

sequential art text fiction series