A good villain can make all the difference.
With The Peregrine, most of his enemies were dead and buried by the end of each adventure, though he had a few (The Warlike Manchu, for instance) who made return appearances. When I created Lazarus Gray, I knew that one of the things I wanted to do with the series was to create a series of recurring villains. I wanted him to have a vibrant rogue’s gallery that could return again and again.
But which of his enemies stands above the rest? If our hero is defined by his villains, which of those foes is his dark mirror?
Obviously, Lazarus Gray has Walther Lunt, his former mentor. Lunt was a major force in Volumes One and Two but his death in 1936 (“Die Glocke”) has yet to be undone so aside from casting a looming shadow over the series, he hasn’t been a physical force since then.
So is he really Gray’s arch-enemy? I think he still qualifies but I do think honorable mention must be given to the immortal Princess Femi.
A beautiful Egyptian princess, Femi was involved with a cult known as The Undying. This group repudiated the Gods, believing that mankind was itself the highest form of life – they frequently shouted “God Is Dead!” as a way of displaying their blasphemous beliefs. In retribution, the priests of Egypt captured Femi and mummified her, using special magicks to keep her alive, in an eternal sleep.
In early 1935, she managed to make a psychic connection with a man who had bought her corpse, intending to display it in his house. The man used a powerful gem to revive Femi, who was reunited with the remains of The Undying. Femi was now able to control the undead but her power came with a price — she now had to feed on human flesh to remain young.The exact process that Femi uses to create her armies of mummified warriors is mystical in nature and bestows upon her followers great strength and durability. The tale of her resurrection and subsequent battle with Assistance Unlimited took place in “The Corpse Screams At Midnight!”
Her next appearance spanned late 1935 and early ’36, as Walther Lunt revived her to accompany him on his search for the Die Glocke.
Later in 1936, Femi was resurrected yet again by Constance Majestros, who formed Murder Unlimited in direct opposition to Assistance Unlimited. Femi and Constance were joined by Abraham Klee, Stanley Davis and Doc Pemberley. Femi and Pemberley became lovers at this point though the romance was a disturbing one for both parties. This time, Abigail Winters (a member of Assistance Unlimited) defeated Femi in single combat. She was placed in a locked room at 6196 Robeson Avenue, becoming a prisoner of Lazarus Gray. This adventure was detailed in “Murder Unlimited.”
At some unknown point, her body was stolen by the madman known as Dr. York, who attempted to revive her in Atlanta so that she might aid him against The Peregrine. This revival literally lasted only a few moments before she was put down once more and returned to the care of Assistance Unlimited (“The Peregrine Animated Script,” The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Three).
Unfortunately, she was freed a short time later (in the story “Eidolon”) and became involved in an attempt to revive an ancient devil. Working alongside a Nazi werewolf named Silverwolf, Femi ended up facing the mysterious vigilante known as Darkling. Darkling managed to destroy her once more.
We later discovered that her remains were kept in an urn at Robeson Avenue (“The Felonious Financier”) in 1937 but she was revived just in time for a group of Egyptians serving the ancient gods to come calling in hopes of destroying her once and for all. Femi gains a handmaiden named Madison Montgomery, a girlfriend of Morgan Watt’s who becomes enamored of Femi’s power. The duo found themselves briefly allied with The Three Sisters (Selene, Phoebe & Fiona), three immortal witches that sought to control Sovereign City. At the end of this adventure, Femi and Madison escape the clutches of Assistance Unlimited. Madison is now empowered by a small fraction of the same energy that preserves Femi, making them a deadly pair (“Immortals”).
Femi and Madison are joined by Paul Alfred Müller-Murnau (aka Nemesis) in an attempt to utilize the power of the Emerald Tablet in 1938 (“Nemesis”). Femi seemed to think that her trend of alliances was working for her because in 1939 she teamed up with El Demonio to summon the King in Yellow. Unfortunately, Madison is killed and Femi, after raging at the loss of her handmaiden, is once again returned to death (Lazarus Gray Volume Seven).
Once again, Femi was not dead for long. 1940 saw her in yet another villainous team-up. Gorgana, a foe from a universe protected by Nightveil and the Femforce, allied with Femi to try and wrest control of the world. The plan failed and Femi was, once again, destroyed. (Lazarus Gray/Nightveil: World’s Apart).
Femi was quiet from 1941-1945 and nothing is known about her post-war activities. Has her evil finally been defeated forever?