The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posted by Matt on April 30, 2011

Well, as luck would have it, my final visit to a closing independent book store a few weeks back resulted in me finding the following gem, and at 30% off:

This collects the first two ‘Books’ of Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill’s cult classic 2000 AD strip, along with a few bonus strips. They don’t make these kinds of shorter collections anymore, really. That is probably because the dollar-to-content ratio expectation is up. Coincidentally, this completely screws over my further reading of the series, as the first book in the Rebellion Complete series has all of this book’s contents, plus the next two ‘Books’. Which basically means that I’ll have to essentially buy this book again in order to continue on with this series. Oh well.

So yeah. I had been meaning to pick up something by Pat Mills for a while now. Mills is one of those creators who is very important, for UK comics especially, but hasn’t really become prominent like some of the other 2000 AD talents that came after. Mostly it’s because of his personal choice to not work within the American comics system, sticking with UK and continental European stuff. The sole exception was Marshall Law, another comic of his and O’Neill’s that I hope to pick up some time in the future.

Nemesis is joyful in its anarchic cynicism; you know, you spend a lot of time learning that subtlety is a virtue, especially in satire, but sometimes it’s good just to find something that’s so fucking angry about some aspect of society, that they just throw it all out there. The idea of “Humans are the invaders!” has been done nearly to death, but this one does it well: pretty much ever person on the future earth of Termight are either a malicious bigot or an apathetic rube abiding by a cruel dictator. The primary antagonist, Torquemada, is so evil, it’s hilarious. Which is the point, really. Mills and O’Neill want to show you the evils of racism and religious zealotry (obvious, yes, but even obvious stuff can be overlooked), but want to make it as entertaining as possible. Plus, Mills makes the majority of the ‘heroes’ pretty unpleasant, too. It’s quintessential black humor, and man is it fun to read.

Part of the entertainment factor comes from the art, especially in Book 1, really captures the grotesqueness of the whole enterprise, using exaggeration and really bizarre alien designs, and tons of little things thrown in the background and in the design of the pages. O’Neill is just the perfect artist for this book. Which isn’t to say that Jesus Redondo, the artist for Book 2, isn’t also capable. His art looks cleaner, and tells the story very well (it probably helps that Book 2 is pretty restrained compared to the free-for-all that Book 1 eventually turned into). But I couldn’t help but miss all that crazy stuff going on every page. I read that O’Neill comes back for a few later stories, which is good.

The book also acts as my introduction to the style of comics that 2000 AD features; namely, 4-6 page weekly strips. It’s a bit jarring when you’re used to either full-length American comics or one-page online strips, but it never felt cramped or decompressed. Each one felt like it’s own story, but maintained it’s place within the larger story. Which is what one generally wants to do in most serial comics, don’t they?

So there’s my simple thoughts. Read more thinky stuff about Nemesis here and here. And here’s a video of the creators talking about stuff:


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