14 June 2011

Nemesis the Warlock, Volume 1

The reprints of strips from 2000AD continues to provide me with much pleasure.

The latest one to bubble to the top of my reading pile is Nemesis the Warlock, Volume 1, which reprints the first four stories of the epic saga that started in 1980, appeared frequently until 1989 and finally finished in 1999.

The author is Pat Mills who is a 2000AD stalwart for all the right reasons, i.e. he writes a lot of very different strips very well. I've previously mentioned his recent excellent work on ABC Warriors and on Slaine and I've had the extreme pleasure of meeting him a couple of times.

Pat Mills is a genuine star of comics and Nemesis the Warlock is just another example of why this is true.

But comics require artists too and Nemesis the Warlock has been blessed here too.

Kevin O'Neill started the ball rolling with his distinctive sharp angular style.

O'Neil's style defined the look of the strip but, not surprisingly, the detail in his artwork meant that his speed of drawing was too slow for a regular weekly comic and he had to be replaced.

Several other artists were used, including Jesus Redondo, but it's Bryan Talbot (again) who had the most impact for me.

And I'm ashamed to say that I had forgotten that he had even drawn it. My bad.

Bryan is supreme on the fourth story, The Gothic Empire. This plays nicely into Bryan's love of steampunk that he has returned to in Grandville.

The Gothic Empire uses the idea of an alien civilisation that has been listening earnestly to Earth's earliest radio communications to learn about and copy our largest civilisation of the day, the British Empire.

This gives a world that combines Victorian culture with modern technology. Perfect.

Bryan throws himself into the task with glee giving us panels rich in detail and imagery.

I love the way that this train looks like the Palm House at Kew.

It's thirty years since I first read Nemesis the Warlock, and I do remember when it first appeared.

Sometimes returning to an old story is a disappointment as the memory fails and what seemed like a classic through the mists of time is revealed to be merely average, or even worse.

In this case the opposite is true, Nemesis the Warlock is even better than I remember it. And I've got Volumes 2 and 3 still to look forward to.

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