Bad Company title

Created by Pete Milligan, Brett Ewins and Jim McCarthy

Text Story - Series Index


The following is introduction to Bad company by its creators, first Pete Milligan

'Endings are merely beginnings looked at from the wrong direction.' So said the Chinese philosopher (and contemporary of Conflicius) Lu P'ung. By this he was referring, I think, to a kind of universal relativity: what is a sunset to one person is a sunrise to another.

So on the last page of this book, the fourth in the Bad Company series (originally published in 2000 AD Progs 576-585), you will see the legend: 'The End'. The circuitous paths of our characters, particularly those of Kano and Danny Franks, will have reached some kind of conclusion. We have charted their path through the battlefields of war and the battlefields of the soul; we have seen two people struggle against monsters: the monsters that are the Krool, and the monsters that are themselves. For the moment, at least, their stories are at an end. But 'the end' is an illusion, it is a device of art, and art is an illusion, art is a discipline, a set of rules, by which one might actualise the complex potential of life.

The end is a sunset, but you, dear reader, you might see it as a sunrise; you might dwell on the characters, on their potential, and what has ended will begin to be apart of your lives. This is how Lu P'ung would have seen it. Lu P'ung died a broken and forgotten man, overshadowed by the great Confucius, but Lu P'ung would have known that that, too, was not the end. 'Confucius' is the Latinization of K'ong fu-tze, which may be translated as Kong the Master, or, perhaps, King Kong, and I like to think of old Lu P'ung smiling on his deathbed, dreaming that his great rival would, centuries later, be turned into a giant ape and shot to pieces from the tallest building in the world.

Peter Milligan, September 1988


In Bad Company Books One to Four we hoped to show that comics do not have to be simplistic or mundane. Moral dilemmas, emotions, fears, questions of the very soul can be relayed from the creators to the readers.
In life, it is no easy matter to define the 'heroes' or 'villains'. Who are the good guys and who the bad guys?
All wars are essentially similar and morally confusing. Whose side was God on in Vietnam? Both sides prayed to their 'God' for victory. Who were the heroes and who were the villains? In the case of Vietnam, the Americans lost and therefore were viewed as the villains of the war. But the U.S. soldiers were not evil per se; they thought that they were fighting for the right cause.
If Hitler had won the Second World War, and had taken over the world, would he now be viewed as a great historical victor? Would he be a hero or a villain in the eyes of a changed society? These questions are not easily answerable.
During the completion of Bad Company, I travelled extensively in the jungles and mountains of South-East Asia. My own entrenched values of good and evil, and what is morally right or wrong, were questioned, and my views found narrow and wanting in the midst of a radically different culture.
What constitutes 'violence' and what 'defence'? Is the best form of defence 'attack'? I am a pacifist. I want peace. Danny Franks too was a pacifist, who wanted peace. In the four books of Bad Company we explore the conflict between these ideals and the instinct to survive, and, later, avenge.

Brett Ewins, July 1988




BAD COMPANY Index

Series & Title
Creators
Prog(s)
Reprinted
Bad Company Milligan/Ewins/McCarthy 20 episodes, progs 500-519 (Dec. 1986 to Apr. 1987) Bad Company Book One and Two, Titan book
Best of 2000AD monthly #77/78
JD Meg 4.9-4.15
Bad Company II: The Bewilderness Milligan/Ewins/McCarthy 10 episodes, progs 548-557 (Nov. 1987 to Jan. 1988) Bad Company Book three, Titan Books
Best of 2000AD monthly 101
Bad Company II: The Krool Heart Milligan/Ewins/McCarthy10 episodes, progs 576-585 (May to July 1988) Bad Company Book four, Titan Books; Best of 2000AD monthly 102
Bad Company: Simply (after Bad Company II)Story by Milligan, art by Ewins, Steve Dillon
Penciled,Inked and Lettered at 4.5 hour charity "work-in" in UKCAC '88
prog 601 (Nov. 1988) JD Meg 4.15
Bad Company: Young men marching Milligan/Ewins/McCarthy 2000AD annual 1988 JD Meg 4.15
Bad Company: Danny's Story (text story) Pete Milligan 2000AD Annual 1989
Bad Company: Ararat (text story) Milligan
Art by "The Albert Tatlock Persuasion" (Ewins/McCarthy)
2000AD Annual 1990JD Meg 4.15
Kano Milligan/Ewins10 episodes, progs 828-837 (Mar. to May 1993)
Bad Company: Down Among the Dead Men Milligan/Ewins/McCarthyProg 2001 (Dec. 2000)
Bad Company Milligan/Ewins/McCarthy Prog 2002,Prog 1273- (Dec. 2001).
Bad company I and II also reprinted in Fleetway/Quality Comics (US format) #1-18
There was the feature Company profiles, [Bad Company character profiles] in 2000AD Winter special No. 1


Kano, drawn by Brett Ewins

Ararat

Story : Pete Milligan

I t's where the Ark landed, after the Flood after carrying all that was left and floating on the great ocean of nothingness that covered the world. It's where the Ark landed, solid ground, relief from the formless tides and waves.
It was Ararat.
Noah - I think it was Noah - found himself a mountain, because the ocean drove him to despair.
He felt the solid ground beneath his feet and saw all his animals two by two running around doing what animal do. But in reality he never left his ark; the truth is he was lying there rolling, rolling on the endless waves, his lips cracked, his beard a postdiluvian disaster, his mind pulled apart by the currents. Noah built a mountain in his mind, so Noah's mind wouldn't drown in the great ocean of nothingness, after the Great Flood.
Yes, I can feel myself rolling, rolling, rolling on the endless waves. I am one with the sea, I feel fringes of the ocean rippling, the extremities of my toes and fingers. This old Noah is seasick and weary of swimming. This old Noah is tired of rolling on the endless. This old Noah is tired of rolling on the endless. This old Noah must make a mountain.

Sometimes when morning broke over the mountains of Ararat it was almost possible to forget the waves, to forget why you were here. There was always a moment's silence as though the would had lost its voice, rendered speechless by the miracle of light and warmth.
Danny Franks lay on his side, the morning frost heavy on his eyelids. He inhaled and felt the cold air stab at his lungs. The great Ararat sun, rising above the distant mountain range, seemed to be bleeding, pouring bright red blood over the planet, across the wide plains, into the sky. He would feel its warmth soon. In that stolen moment between night and day, Danny almost felt at peace, and he felt very close to his past, to those other mornings on that other planet when he would wake and would not have to wonder if he would survive the next hour.
The scene before him was beautiful. But how could that be? How could this bloody Golgotha, this planet of war, this anvil on which his soul was being beaten out of shape, how could it be beautiful too? Because we make it beautiful, thought Danny. By being here and seeing it and calling it beautiful, we make it beautiful. As we make the planet ugly with our own ugliness. Before life existed, this same sun rose and bled so wonderfully over these same wonderful plains. But then it wasn't beautiful and there was no one to wonder at it. It just was. Timeless and indifferent. As it will be when we no longer exist. If, he reminded himself, we haven't destroyed it all first.
Only now did Danny recall that he had woken from a strange and disturbing dream. He could no longer remember what the dream was, but its mood still weighed upon him. He remembered looking into something vast and empty. He remembered rolling. He remembered...
He shook his head, trying to shake the dust of dreams his mind. He climbed his feet and stretched. Dreams were for the night. The day was for Bad Company.

Wallbanger, Bad Company's multi-purpose robot, dished out the breakfast: mudcake, extracted from very soil they stood on, processed, de-contaminated, infused with all the necessary vitamins and minerals, and breathtakingly disgusting.
kano and franksDanny scooped some of the mess into his mouth, trying to swallow before having to taste it. He looked around. There was Mac, last survivor with Danny of their old Ararat First Division, the 'raws' who been recruited (or pressganged) by Bad Company. Next to Mac was Thrax. His small eyes like stones set in his skeletal face, his complexion in the morning glow more cadaverous than ever. Next to Thrax was, predictably, Shrike, an odd little creature who rarely uttered a word, and then only if Thrax had uttered it first. Also eating were Mad Tommy who was sitting alone (no one wanted to be subject to his World War Two rantings this early in the day), Flytrap, dropping the slimy food into the mouth of his plantarm, and Dogbrain, that hairy canine-man monstrosity.
The most important member of Bad Company, the man whowas Bad Company was not eating with the others. He was sitting on a small rock, looking out over the plains beyond which the ball of the sun was climbing. Kano. He didn't look like a man. He didn't look as though he had been born. He looked as though he had been quarried, hewn from granite pits and assembled by a lunatic with delusions of grandeur.
Danny walked up to him, throwing the remains of his breakfast on the ground. From mud to mud. As Danny drew level with him, Kano turned his massive head round and locked Danny with his eyes. And for a second, maybe less than a second, Danny saw Kano's features change. The shape of his face seemed to shrink, to crumble, to become. . . No. Danny shut his eyes tight. No. Madness.
'Problem, Franks?' said Kano.
Danny opened his eyes. Kano was Kano again, old granite face. Danny shook his head. What had he seen? He could no longer remember. It was fading already, a ghost-memory, as elusive as his dreams...
'How near are we to the Golgotha Plains?' he mumbled. Kano's eyes narrowed.
'We're not near. Why?'
'I just thought... Aw, it's not important.'
'Neither are you, Franks. What about the Golgotha Plains?'
Kano stood up, towering above Danny. He had to know everything. The Golgotha Plains was a valley of craziness, across which the Winds of Golgotha howled, digging into your mind and showing you your deepest fears and foulest dreams. Occasionally, some of the Winds drifted from the Plains, causing mild hallucinations.
'It was just.. For a second you seemed different. I thought maybe the winds of Golgotha had affected me. You looked... Hell, I don't remember how you looked. Weirdest thing, I don't remember. Maybe it didn't happen Maybe I'm going mad.'
'Humphh,' said Kano, turning away. What's the score for today, Kano? We carry on tracking that Krool division?'
Kano looked out across the blood red plains of Ararat and didn't say a thing. He had to know everything, but he only told you what he wanted to tell you.

Maybe this is the day. Bad company waited silently in a knot of blasted tree trunks that jutted from the ground like cracked, stained molars. A thin mist has descended, turning the faces of Danny's comrades ghostly white. Danny clutched his gun and watched the convoy of Krool vehicles work its way through the narrow valley towards them. Maybe this time, he thought. Maybe this time he will fall, he will feel the bullet tear through his throat, he will feel the bayonet slide between his ribs and find his heart. Maybe this is the day he will die. And maybe this day is long overdue.
With no word of command, like a single unit, Bad Company slipped silently from their cover and crept towards their prey. Detonating devices had been placed at the head of the valley, primed to go off as the head of the Krool Convoy reached it. Bad Company would attack from the rear, grabbing the tiger's tail while its face was on fire.
The sound of the detonators blowing reached Danny's ears a beat after he saw the ground erupt, tossing the leading Krool Vehicles in the air. And then there was only the familiar music of war, the screams, the pounding and rattling of missiles and bullets the wind shrieking in his face as he ran to the nearest vehicle, his own gun spitting fire, its metal stock jolting into the side of his body where the skin had grown thick and coarse through constant battering.
But even as he was running, killing, fighting for his life, Danny could not shake the feeling of strangeness that had gripped him all day. A Krool solider reared before him, but even as blocked, but even as Danny blocked the thrust of the thrust of the Krool's bayonet and drove the stock of his own gun into the flesh of the Krool belly, he found himself almost uninterested, as did not matter if he lived if he died, if he fell this day or the next. He spun his gun round and pushed the barrel against the Krool's chest pulling the trigger and kano and franks watching the back of the Krool explode in an arc of dark viscera. If I close my eyes, he thought, will you cease to exist?
Of course, Danny was aware that this feeling lassitude, of indifference was dangerous, and common amongst people who had been fighting long all causes and reasons had become submerged by that fighting, had been fighting so long they no longer fought to live, they lived to fight, and only lived, were only really alive, when they were fighting
It's called losing your marbles, he thought.
Ten minutes later the battle was over. Three Krool vehicles had fought their way out, five lay smoking and abandoned, dead or wounded Krool scattered around them. Kano surveyed the scene, ready for a counter attack, ready for a counter attack, ready anything. It was a good five more minutes before they realised Mac was missing. The wrecked bodies of the fallen were checked, but they were all Krool.
'They've got him,' said Kano. 'And if they've got him they'll torture him. And he'll talk. He knows too much about us. We'll try to rescue him but if there's any doubt, if there's any doubt at all, we sure he can't talk.'
'You mean we kill him,' asked Danny, knowing the answer, and knowing Kano was right.

They had him on the black skeleton of a tree. His arms outstretched, cruci-form. Crucified. Was that archetype, that familiar image, was it part of the Krool 'collective unconscious' too? Had they had, in their dim past, a Christ too? Or the same Christ? Did we share a God? And if so, on whose side is He or she? Danny looked down from his perch on a rocky knoll at the makeshift Krool camp, where Mac, barechested, his face already bloody, was predilection for and expertise in the art of torture. A Krool was standing before Mac, holding a long thin wire instrument. He appeared to be about to insert it into Mac's belly button.
No side, thought Danny. If God had any sense, He or She has probably washed His or Her hands of us.
Danny raised his rifle and aimed at Mac's forehead. He'd feel no pain. He'd be dead before the bullet passed through the back of him skull. Hell, thought Danny. There is no God. There's only life and death, and they don't take sides.
Danny squeezed the trigger and fired his gun.
The bullet passed through the left temple obliterating the skull and creating a grey halo of brain matter around the head. The Krool dropped forward onto Max, whose bare chest had been stained by the lifeless gunge that flew from Krool's skull.
If I get out of this thought Danny, Kano will probably kill me for this. His instructions had been to kill Mac; no risks. sentiment. It seemed the 'raw' Danny hadn't been quite extinguished, that he wasn't like Kano, not yet. And, all in all, Danny rather pleased.
Seconds later Bad Company hit the camp. From his perch, Danny could pick off any Krool he wanted. Kano was working his way through the center of the camp, headed for Mac. Thrax and Shrike had worked their way round to the left and were now attacking from the side. Thrax leapt onto the nearest Krool vehicle and dropped a grenade into its cabin, slamming the door closed. As he turned to leap off he seemed to stumble. He fell, clutching his leg, and Danny realised that Thrax had been shot. Thrax pushed himself up. Was that a grin on his face? Yes, even from his perch Danny could see that the madman was laughing, laughing in the face of...

   
The vehicle exploded, hurling those nearest to it to the ground. Kano had reached and released Mac now, and the rest of the Krool were either dead or retreating. Danny looked at the flaming pyre on which Thrax's body had been cremated, belching dark smoke into the skies of Ararat.
Kano will do worse than just kill me now.

The counter attack came within half an hour. Random Krool shells, screamed through the air and kissed the ground. The earth moved, the skies shook. Danny huddled in a crater with Mac, still groggy after his time with the Krool. To his right, Danny saw Flytrap and Kano, sheltering beneath the lip of a rock. To his left he saw Shrike and Thrax, sitting calmly in a bunker, waiting for the shelling to stop.
Thrax! Danny looked again. Yes. there he was, sitting there as though was nothing was happening, as though nothing had happening.

  
'Mac,' he said, clutching Mac's sore arm. 'It's Thrax. He's over there.'
'Hallelujah. So what?'

'But he's dead. You saw him die, didn't you?'
'Didn't see a thing. If he's here he can't be dead, can he?'
'But I saw it. He was blown to pieces.'
'So his middle name's Lazarus. Hell, Danny you're getting weirder than Mad Tommy.'
Danny crawled out of the crater and scuttled across the bunker where Thrax a Shrike were sitting.
'Tired of living, Franks,' said Thrax. It was Thrax. No doubt. Danny reached out and touched Thrax's arm. Solid. Thrax looked at him as though he were mad. And he probably right.
'Thrax, you're alive.'
'You being funny Franks?'
'I mean it. I saw you blown up. You survive Without a scratch.'
'Do I look blown up to you, Shrike?'
'No Thrax. I've never seen you looking less blown up.'
'If this idiot doesn't disappear this minute, Shrike, I'm going to tear his lungs out.'
'Good idea, Thrax.'
Danny crawled on his belly across the shuddering earth to the rock where Kano and Flytrap sheltering.
'Kano
'You should have killed him, Franks. One more trick like that and you finished.'
'I know, I'm sorry. Listen, Kano. something's wrong. I saw Thrax killed, and now he's alive.'
'You saying he's an imposter?'
'No. It's Thrax.
Thrax is dead. At least he would be dead if he were.
Danny stopped, unable to say what he was going to say, as though an concept had entered mind, a thing so alien, so terrible, he could not look into its face.
'If he were what, Franks?' asked Kano.
'If was going to say "if he were... real." If he were real he'd be dead.'
A large shell e~ I nearby. They ducked heads and, as the settled, slowly raised them. Kano's cold eyes were Danny.
'Get out of here, Franks.
'I mean it, Kano. I've felt it all day. Something's wrong. Look at the sky. Look at those rocks, look at us. I remember an old joke. It was about a man who woke up to find everything in his life had been replaced by an exact replica. That's how I feel.'
Kano looked out at the sky that was choking with debris thrown from the ground by the shells.
'You're talking crazy, Franks. Of course this is real. If it's not...'
'If it's not, what are we? You know earlier today, when I looked at you and I thought I saw something? I saw your face start to fade, to become less Kano, and more. . . And more me. I saw your face starting to look like my face. Jesus, Kano. If this is a dream, can you hit me and wake me up?'
Kano stared at Danny, and as he did so Danny saw those granite features shrink again, just for a moment, shrink into a withered death mask of his own face.
The distant mountains seemed almost translucent, a mirage, a dream. His dream. He tried to remember his dream. He remember floating, rolling, rolling in darkness. He remembered feeling his body stretching miles. He remembered the crushing loneliness of something that was moment's silence, as though the world had lost its voice, rendered speechless by the miracle of light and warmth.
Danny Franks had woken from a strange and disturbing dream. He could no longer remember what the dream was, but its mood still weighed upon him. He remembered looking into something vast and empty. He remembered rolling. He remembered...
He shook his head, trying to shake the dreams from his mind. He climbed to his feet and stretched. Dreams were for the night. The day was for Bad Company.