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Bad Company: First Casualties

    Ian Jane

  • Bad Company: First Casualties

    Bad Company: First Casualties
    Released by: 2000 A.D./Rebellion
    Released on: June 16th, 2015.
    Written by: Peter Milligan
    Illustrated by: Rufus Dayglo, Jim McCarthy
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    Danny finds out that Kano's alive. He tells him the war is over in hopes that Kano will stop short of levelling the city - Kano chills out a bit but wants to show Danny what was done to him, what made him the way he is. And so, by a connection they make, he does this and we witness through his own eyes the transformation that befell him. In doing so, the powers that be 'break' Kano. His body may have been healed but his mind is a different story but of course the truth behind why the authorities want Danny to bring Kano in, well, that's got to come out sooner or later, right?

    Danny convinced Kano to hand himself in unaware that the powers that be intended to kill him. Now he's got to convince Thrax, Fly-Trap and Mad Tommy Churchill to help him spring Kano from custody. They're not having it but Danny isn't taking now for an answer and he does his best to rally these warrior types, now living lives as heavily medicated and docile old men, to make some new memories with him. It works, and they set out to save their mate and prove they've still got it!

    Danny gets called on this. Tommy's off his meds for three days now, they don't want him remembering things he'd be better off not remembering. Medications, hallucinations and all the horrors of war come crashing in but Bad Company doesn't leave their boys behind enemy lines, no matter what the situation is or who the 'enemy' is…

    Flashback! We see some soldiers handling a division of Krool warriors pretty easily, taking them down in style. This is when they were still the 19th Division, before they were Bad Company. But what starts off promisingly enough soon goes wrong. It seems that in the present day, all of the members of Bad Company have this same sort of flashback, at least since they stopped taking their meds. They figure something happened on Arrarat that the powers that be are trying to suppress. Time to go see Doctor Malarkey and figure out what and why and to figure out if there are any other surviving members of the 19th Division left around to talk to.

    The guys head into the ghetto trying to find the one surviving vet who might be able to fill them in on the truth of their foggy past. There are flashbacks, remembrances of when they were Bad Company fighting the war against the Krool, and some of these memories are painful and confusing. But then the shrink, Malarkey, the one who has been treating all of these guys? She mentions that…, well, no, we won't spoilt it - and then the Bad Company guys find what they're looking for.

    The crew is on Arrarat, war is Hell and Danny is hallucinating that he's being attacked by zombies! Tommy brings him back to reality, they've got to find the last Krool while they still can, and the boys are all, literally, off their meds. As such, their memories are coming back, but at what price? Kano is still a 'bastard to everyone' and they all seem to be going a little nuts… except Tommy. He's been clean three days longer than the rest and he seems to be regaining his sanity. As they head towards the North City Spaceport, those that would see them fail (led by Faulks), ramp up their attempts to halt Bad Company's mission.

    It's not over yet! Danny might want the body of the technician who killed Kano to be treated with respect but nobody is listening. He and the rest of BC are headed to another battle with the Krool. Kano has snapped… maybe. While the powers that be don't want Bad Company to leave the planet's atmosphere and will take them down if they need to, innocent lives be damned. Meanwhile, Thrax, off his meds like the rest of them, seems to be losing it which leads to conflict within Bad Company itself.

    On the Penal Planet they start laying waste to pretty much everything that they come into contact with - because they have to. For reasons they can't quite figure out yet, the prisoners are attacking them. The guys figure it's because the prisoners have nothing better to do, this is entertainment for them. Thrax gets hurt but once the prisoners back off, they fix him up and get on their way… they've got to find the Krool.

    As the slaughter on the penal planet continues, the meds they were on start wearing off and memories long suppressed come flooding back. Here we learn what really happened to Fly-Trap and Mad Tommy… and then one of the Krool makes a mind-link with the boys in what may be the one and only time the guys in Bad Company are ordered to stand in a circle and hold hands - all so that they can see things from the Krool's perspective.

    After the Krool made the mind-link with the Bad Company boys, we find them dealing with what really happened on Ararat, how Faulks flipped out and didn't want to see them land in one piece and how their doctor messed with their meds. And of course, they arrive back home just in time to disrupt the mayor's ceremonial unveiling of a new statue honoring those who fought carved from the rock of Ararat itself! TAKKA TAKKA TAKKA! BRAKKA BRAKKA BRAKKA! Machine gun fire aplenty. This is going to get ugly judging by the crowds' reaction - unless Danny tells them the truth?

    The more things change, the more they stay the same and when the chapter ends with 'Next: One Last Bloody Shit Storm!' then you know things are going south and fast. The conspiracy theory elements brewing in the earlier chapters are laid bare here as we, along with the guys, learn why they were really sent into Ararat. It isn't pretty, not at all, but sadly it's an all too realistic take on why wars happen when and where they do. Milligan's script isn't subtle (who wants subtlety with a Bad Company story in the first place?), but it is poignant. Dayglo and McCarthy continue to illustrate the serial exactly how it should be illustrated, with a nice splattery and fairly loose style that looks fantastic in black and white.

    In addition to reprinting the story that was serialized we get a new cover from Dayglo, a quick one page introduction from Peter Milligan, biographies for the three members of the book's creative team, a bunch of rough cover illustrations and page layouts, some Bad Company prequel notes and sketches as well as a few finished pages from that prequel and a couple of 2000 A.D. Bad Company 'pinup' illustrations. The second last page features a postscript from Dayglo where he talks about working with Brett Ewins despite his failing health, how this series became a tribute from Dayglo and Milligan to Brett when he passed away and how Golgotha Joe was based on him. Fittingly enough, the final page in the collection is a single page tribute illustration by Dayglo celebrating Ewins' life and comic book work - a nice touch to end the collection on.

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