Thursday, June 7, 2007

10. Nemesis Arrives and Departs

Thrillpowered Thursday is a weekly look at the world of 2000 AD. I'm rereading my collection of 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine, one issue an evening, and once each week for the foreseeable future, I'll see what I'm inspired to write.

It's August 1994 and this is prog 902. Tharg had an interesting idea to release three jump-on progs over the course of five weeks and it works pretty well. Prog 900 had been given over to a 28-page John Wagner/John Higgins story with Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper teaming up. 901 started new stories, all of which quickly wrapped up before five new stories began in prog 904. This way, a short run of issues lets new readers sample quite a few recurring thrills.

For the era, it's actually not a bad lineup at all. Dredd is by Wagner and Ian Gibson, and you've also got an amusing installment of Bradley by Alan McKenzie and Simon Harrison, a fairly awful Rogue Trooper by Mark Millar (miscredited as Steve White) and Chris Weston, the first stab at Durham Red by Peter Hogan and her new regular artist Mark Harrison, and the odd return of Nemesis the Warlock by Pat Mills and Clint Langley.

Nemesis had been largely absent from the comic for the previous six years. He appeared in a one-off episode in prog 700, followed by a short and largely pointless "Nemesis and Deadlock" series five months later. Chris Weston illustrated a fabulous one-off in the 1993 Winter Special, followed by another one-off in prog 824 by Paul Staples, and that was about it.

It was clearly intended that the three episodes here should be the buildup to something larger and climactic, because the first two parts are nothing more than characters reminiscing about the story up until this point. Mills had used a similar tactic in the first episodes of the epic Slaine storyline "The Horned God. Clint Langley - who, I promise, is a million times better today than these ugly green pages from early in his career suggest - is reduced to little more than recapping the story so far.

This sequence, for instance, is a retelling of the previous Nemesis story, from 1993. You can tell that Mills is laying the groundwork for something very important, and probably, considering the great success of "The Horned God" as collected editions in Europe, putting one eye towards big nice albums full of painted green Langley artwork...

...but then nothing happens. The story doesn't resume at any point in the next few years. Langley himself is conspicuously absent for the next good while, and when Nemesis does return, it's in 1999, with astonishingly vibrant black and white artwork by Henry Flint. Today, Langley is the regular artist for Slaine and The ABC Warriors, and his current work is so weird and wonderful that I actually feel pangs of guilt about putting this old, ugly mess up for you to look at. On the other hand, I do love his take on Nemesis himself. You can tell by that cover that Nemesis is about as grotesque and slimy and nasty as a sentient being can be. No disrespect to Bryan Talbot, but his Nemesis looked like a superhero with a funny head; this guy looks as alien as can be - exactly the sort of thing Torquemada warned his population about!

This three-parter is not presently available in collected form, but a third volume of The Complete Nemesis is anticipated in December, and we're hoping it contains this story. (edit: It does! --grant, 6/5/08)

Oh, some unfinished business... in our seventh installment, I spotlighted Mike McMahon circa 1994. To our surprise, he was back with a new Dredd episode in last week's prog 1539. Singing McMahon's praises are two of his peers, Chris Weston and Lew Stringer. Check it out! I can't wait for that prog.

Next week, we pick back up the Mechanismo story in the "Wilderlands" saga.

(Originally published 6/7/07 at LiveJournal.)

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