Milligan is returning to the dark, war-torn world of Bad Company – the series he co-created with Ewins and Jim McCarthy in 1986 – saying he hoped it would be “a fitting tribute to a man without whom Bad Company would never have been what it was”.
Ewins’ sudden death last month shocked the industry. His influence extends far beyond 2000 AD thanks to his co-founding of Deadline magazine in 1989 and his mentoring of some of the biggest talents in comics today.
The new Bad Company story – FIRST CASULATIES – will debut in 2000 AD Prog 1950, on sale 30 September, with pencils by Rufus Dayglo (Tank Girl) and inks by Jim McCarthy (The Sex Pistols: The Graphic Novel).
Bad Company remains one of the most popular stories 2000 AD has ever published, with incredible and visceral black and white art from Ewins and McCarthy. If Rogue Trooper was 2000 AD’s World War Two, Bad Company was its Vietnam War – a senseless, brutal, and dizzying conflict inspired by Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now.
Peter Milligan said: “Since I began writing my new Bad Company story, anyone who's connected with 2000 AD has probably heard the sad news of the death of Brett Ewins, penciller and vital component of the original Bad Company team. Brett was a great artist and a great friend and this story has become something of a homage to his memory.”
He added: “If that puts more pressure on us to produce a new story that lives up to the Bad Company name so be it. FIRST CASUALTIES is a surprising tale, revealing new truths about Bad Company and their world, and also saying something about our own world. I hope it's a fitting tribute to a man without whom Bad Company would never have been what it was.”
The story is Milligan’s first work for 2000 AD since 2002. He began his career at the weekly anthology, penning Future Shocks alongside writers such as Grant Morrison and Alan Moore, before creating Bad Company and inventive stories such as The Dead, Tribal Memories, and the madcap Hewlingan’s Haircut with Jamie Hewlett.
2000 AD editor Matt Smith said: “It’s very exciting to see Peter return to 2000 AD after a thirteen-year absence, writing one of his signature creations, though of course the shadow of Brett’s passing means the strip will be as much a tribute to the great artist’s work as it is a new chapter in the story of Kano and co. Rufus Dayglo, a long-time friend of Brett’s, will be handling the pencils and with original series inker Jim McCarthy on board, we’ll hope to maintain the manic energy and dark, hallucinogenic quality of previous Bad Company stories. It’s incredible to think that it’ll be 30 years in 2016 since the first episode was published in Prog 500, and the characters remain as strong and vibrant as ever.”
Artist Rufus Dayglo explained, “Growing up, Bad Company was the comic I'd copy during school lessons on my maths book. Years later, I was lucky enough to become friends with Brett and we worked on some covers and some Johnny Nemo stories together. We planned to do a Bad Company prequel over ten years ago, and even did some pages, but due to his health this never happened. I'm so proud we are doing the new series now. Brett was happy and excited we were working on new stuff, and was excited to see it come out. I feel very proud to be helping to carry on Brett's legacy in 2000 AD. I hope we can do him proud.”
In humanity’s war with a vicious alien species known as the Krool on the planet Ararat, when his own unit is destroyed a young soldier called Danny Franks is recruited by a band of renegades known as Bad Company. This collection of freaks and maniacs is led by Kano, a taciturn Frankenstein's Monster-like soldier who keeps a secret in a little box that he refuses to show anyone else. The naive Franks must not only survive the re-animated dead human soldiers, human/alien hybrids, and other monstrosities thrown at them by the Krool but also the insanity and instability of his own comrades as they plunge deeper and deeper into the “Krool heart” of the conflict as the clock ticks down for the future of the human race – but his fate was to become not only as addicted to the war as Kano, but to become the collective mind of the Krool themselves.