2000AD as an anthology comic franchise has more famous characters – especially Judge Dredd – but nothing really appealed as much as the out-and-out wanton weirdness of Kevin O'Neill and Pat Mills at their creative height. Mills wanted to create something as weird and wonderful as he found in the pages of Metal Hurlant, but with the dark humour that 2000AD was known for.
Mills in his introduction to the collection:
"I liked the way the French would come up with crazy 'throwaway' worlds and plots; it reminded me of some of the wilder rock videos and, hence the musical references in the early Nemesis stories. With 'Terror Tube' and the tales that followed, Kevin an I were 'comic jamming' – writing and drawing the wildest stories we could think of, deliberately avoiding the traditional comic approach."
Of the creative partnership Kevin O'Neill states in the afterword to the book:
"We were never short of material for Nemesis – indeed we probably only put in a fraction of what we discussed… Ten pages made up as we went along – both desperate to top one another's mad flights of fancy"
The sheer amount of detail, in-jokes, strangeness, stomach-churning tentacular appendages and visual easter-eggs in each page is wonderful. Also, Mills creates a dark, funny and rollicking adventure that works as well if you are 9 or 34 years old.
Of course, as required of all great epic-adventure fictions, it has a really, really, really good bad guy in Tomas de Torquemada. Particularly once he has become a phantasm after a grizzly accident with a teleportation system. O'Neill runs wild with him from that point, and Mills gives him diabolical dialogue a-plenty to create a Moriarty-crossed-with-Matthew-Hopkins.
A fantastic, phantasmagorical blast from my past which I'd recommend anyone with fond memories of 2000AD to reacquaint themselves with; or if you've read 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' to see where Kevin O'Neill's brand of dense, twisted world-building began to hit it's stride.