2000AD’s ABC Warriors and Nemesis The Warlock exist in the same comic book universe, which makes the two magickal characters Deadlock and Nemesis naturally perfect for a few crossover stories. They are perhaps two of the best characters that Patrick Mills has devised, they portray his anarchic, satirical, irreverent humour and his attitude towards the constrictions of society.
Starting in prog 700, we see the two followers of the art of Khaos magick meet to settle their differences. It begins with the ABC Warriors landing on Gandarva, with Deadlock intending to bring vengeance against Nemesis, believing him to have betrayed the principles of Khaos by forcing him to save the hated planet and citizens of Terra.
This is a great prelude to the team up stories that were to come from these two characters, Nemesis is using humans are training tools and for fun, offering them up for the ABC Warriors to perform recreational torture. It hammers home the contempt that the characters have for humanity due to all the atrocities that they have committed across the galaxy. I love that these franchises (ABC Warriors and Nemesis) have us rooting for the heroic aliens against our own race, Pat uses high comedy in order to point us towards the hard truths that we as a race are not always necessarily the ‘good guys’, using the language of parody to encourage self examination.
The two begin their combat and in the end they ritually impale each other, this whole contest has been a cleansing ritual of conflict, death and rebirth – I hesitate to use the term ‘forgiveness’ but perhaps more apt is the fulfilment of honour after atonement for betraying the powerful principles of their faith. It’s a great hook for what was to come in the following year, a whole narrative featuring these charismatic individuals.
Starting in Prog 723 these two characters were reunited in the Enigmass Variations, a story which lampoons a famous British Occultist (something which I relished) and brings together many magickal traditions and examines them with a familiar humorous perspective.
Deadlock and Nemesis have arrived for a galactic convention featuring all the notable magicians from the five corners of the galaxy. We meet the protagonists who all represent different magickal perspectives. We have a rather blue and muscular representative of the eastern schools of magick, a rather bald and pompous British Magician representing …well…we aren’t sure about him, a Conan- Thor-esque Pagan, a techno mage and a representative of The Rainbow people – a mixture between a female Gremlin and Yoda – a representative of peace and light..which induces a lot of vomiting amongst the other delegates.
I have to admit I rather enjoyed the namechecking of the various schools of Magick, it was a knowing nod and I could sense that I was in for a critique of each school from the artist and the authors.
Suddenly in the middle of the conference an intruder appears, each delegate sees this monster in their own terms and begins to attempt to tear the delegates apart.
After Deadock manages to repel the beast, it comes to light that it’s an Enigmass, it’s a demon that appears as whatever the individual viewing it fears the most – in mythological terms. It also seems that someone in the group has summoned this creature for their own ends.
So begins the hunt for traitor in the midst and it’s tremendous fun, there are battles which show off the author’s understanding and obvious interest in the magickal world as a source of narration. The humour is completely on target and it’s a joy to see Deadlock and Nemesis bicker like a married couple and accuse each other.
My Favourite moments is when we see the completely impotent Aleister Crowley, full of bluster constantly refuse to perform any magick whatsoever. We eventually obtain a confession, quite unlike his any in his biographical book – The Confessions of Aliester Crowley – that he can do no magick whasoever.
We even have moments nodding towards Nemesis uncle being Baphomet
For all the humour and action abounding in this story, it was the ending which I found astonishing, astonishing in it’s simple, profound nature. It made me ponder the nature of my being and the universe around me.
Now that’s Magic!