Monday, 12 June 2017

Nemesis The Warlock #4 - Eagle Comics

NEMESIS THE WARLOCK No. 4, December 1984
Arguably devoting far more time upon the titular character’s arch-rival, the supposedly slain Tomás de Torquemada, than the series’ lead protagonist, Issue Four of “Nemesis The Warlock” must still have delighted it’s ‘schoolboy’ fanbase due to Pat Mills’ spine-tingling premise of having all the galaxy’s human prisoners being guarded on a planet ruled by giant talking spiders. Indeed, it’s hard to think of a more terrifying fate for the misguided Terminators of Terra, than living out the rest of their lives under the baleful eight-eyes of intelligent arachnids; “It is a judgement on us for not heeding the words of Torquemada!”

Frustratingly however, such a diabolical fate for Mankind’s murderously blood-thirsty warriors is simply hinted at to begin with, on account of "the godfather of British comics" deciding to start this tome by ‘filling in’ the background as to just “what made Torquemada the way he was”. Admittedly, this short-story depicting a young Tomas being treacherously sold into alien servitude only to escape by biting the tongue of a Manticore so “the monster couldn’t close its jaws on him” certainly gives the ‘damaged’ adolescent plenty of grounds for hating extra-terrestrials, as well as the humans who collaborate with them. But for such a momentous tale its disappointingly short, and in no way lives up to the expectations set by Jesus Redondo’s sense-shattering splash illustration depicting Brother Baruda fending off a huge black ‘eight legs’ which so promisingly precedes it.

Somewhat contrarily, the Ipswich-born author’s subsequent attempt to resurrect “the most cruel human of all time” within the space of five pages seems incredibly ponderously-paced; especially when six panels alone are dedicated to Sister Alvit playing a game of charades with the other Battle-Maidens due to her being “forbidden to speak”. Surely it would have been far better to have shortened such a sequence, and either provided some additional ‘footage’ of the battle on “Zonar, planet of the Fachans”, “Remora, planet of the Tritons”, or Garuda, planet of the Rukhans, "who fly into action on their hippogriffs…”?

Regardless, Mills’ script for this thirty-two page anthology really ‘pulls out all the stops’ once Baruda “and four of the toughest Terminators” inject “themselves with a diluted dose” of spider venom and climb the prison’s poisonous web wall. In fact, the party’s pulse-pounding race through the jungle is superbly penned (and pencilled by Redonda), with its “thousands of wild spiders” slowly culling the escapee’s meagre number in all manner of gruesome and agonisingly unpleasant ways…
Script: Pat Mills, Art: Jesus Redondo, and Color: Ian Stead

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