WRITER: Peter Milligan
ARTISTS: Brett Ewins, Jim McCarthy, Steve Dillon
Publisher: Rebellion/2000AD / £19.99 / Out: 14th April 2011

Rating: *   *   *   *   1/2

It may be an ultra-violent boys comic, but 2000AD has always had a refreshingly dark and twisted approach to war stories – and they don’t come darker or more twisted than Bad Company. An SF combat series that ran through one of the anthology comic’s many golden ages, this surprisingly psychological tale follows a bunch of raw recruits who fall in with a squad of monstrous, half-insane soldiers, led by the terrifying Kano, who are fighting the alien Krool on a distant planet.

The latest in Rebellion’s excellent range of reprints, this collection features the core of the saga – the original twenty issue run, plus the two follow-ups “The Bewilderness” and “The Krool Heart” – plus the sequel stories that turned up during the 1990s and early 2000s. It’s easy to see why Bad Company was popular enough to bring back so many times, with Peter Milligan’s script cramming every episode full of stylish characterisation, SF twists and some truly demented concepts, while Brett Ewins and Jim McCarthy’s art is eye-opening stuff.

Going in some amazingly psychedelic directions, the largely black-and-white art is both creepy and graphically striking, pushing what could have been a standard Rogue Trooper-esque SF saga into the nightmarish realms of war films like Apocalypse Now – with added robots, aliens and zombies. The later stories don’t quite hit the same powerful levels as the main run of the saga, but this is still a great example of 2000AD at its best, as well as a hallucinatory war story that packs one hell of a punch.

FACT BOX:

Currently working on the long-running title Hellblazer, Milligan is also writing a new ongoing title about the Red Lantern Corps that’s due to be launched by DC later in 2011.