2000 AD Prog Slog

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Prog 510

How many times can you say with effect, "War is rubbish. Really, really rubbish"? If you're 2000 AD, at least twice in recent memory. First we have lovely Halo Jones fighting on a planet where the gravity is so strong it even affects the movement of time, and now we have Bad Company. Originally created by the fallible idea factory of Wagner and Grant, Bad Company has been reworked by the first wave of the new generation of creator robots, Pete Milligan, Brett Ewins and Jim McCarthy. Set on the war ravaged planet Ararat, Bad Company is told from the point of view of young Danny Franks, a raw recruit, who writes in his diary about the erosion of his humanity as he is broken in by a renegade unit of soldiers.

And what a collection of freaks and oddities Bad Company is. There's a really hairy guy that's led around on a chain who, supposedly, has had a dog's brain transplanted into his head. There's Tommy Churchill, who thinks that he's fighting in an idealised version of World War Two. Thraxx, whose sole role in the unit is to undermine their leader's authority. There's Wallbanger, who eerily looks exactly like a dispassionate robot on the outside but behaves exactly like any reasonable person might. And then there's the unit's charismatic leader, Kano. Kano; The flat headed giant. Kano; Sitting under a dead tree staring blank eyed into that box he carries around with him.

Everyone behind the scenes seems to be working hard at making Bad Company a hit with the readers. It has been designated four of the last eleven covers, a frequency usually only granted to the sales generating Judge Dredd, and each of its episodes so far have been six pages long, a length that even established thrills only occasionally reach. The reason for this is probably because it is very good. There's something intelligent and a little bit sinister throbbing under the surface of this thrill that makes me think that it hasn't been written and drawn in accordance with how comics are normally made but brewed like a potion in a cellar somewhere. Part future war strip, part intelligent examination of the cruelty of men. A potent mix of literate writing and perfect, pop comic art. Let's face it; it's not just Danny Franks being broken in but the loyal Squaxx dek Thargo too.

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