Peter MilliganBad Company2000 AD
Bad Company: Kano
Medium: comic
Year: 1993
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Brett Ewins, Jim McCarthy
Country: UK
Keywords: Bad Company, 2000 AD
Format: 2000 AD progs 828-837, ten episodes, 60 pages
Website category: Comics UK
Review date: 1 September 2021
It's far less entertaining than the first two Bad Company series and it will undoubtedly have disappointed fans. It's not exciting, it's avoiding violence and even the art looks poor. (I blame the colouring.) I respect it, though, and I think it's a legitimate continuation. Kano's abandoned war. He's become a farmer, with a wife and child. They live in a small human colony on a world where time runs backwards for an hour every day, at lunch time.
One day, bad things start happening... and Kano does nothing. He's older and calmer. He doesn't want to kill. "I can't fight for anyone else any more. Only for my family."
We know how these stories go. His wife and/or child will get killed and Kano will revert to his old, ultra-violent ways. Hurrah for mindless killing! Hurrah for disposable loved ones who were only shoehorned into the plot to trigger a revenge rampage! Except that, here... no. It's not that simple. That's not Milligan's game plan. Kano's genuinely trying to break the killing cycle, right to the end. Someone dies who probably would have been saved had Kano been in badass mode, but to call that a criticism is to misunderstand the character on the page.
This is disconcerting, especially in a Bad Company story... but I like disconcerting. Then, in addition, we have the planet's ghosts.
The art looks poor. 2000 AD in 1993 was all-colour, but with mediocre printing and paper quality. (It looks stunning compared with American comics, admittedly, but it's still worse than either modern 2000 AD or its black-and-white predecessors.) Ewins and McCarthy's line art is unchanged, but their colouring is uninspired and the muddy reproduction gives the pages far less impact than they'd have had in monochrome.
This is an understated, elegaic story that's interesting to think about, but also a bit dull. I like its SF ideas. I like where Milligan's taking Kano's characterisation. I like the fact that he's so willing to ditch fan expectations. It's also, though, a story that hardly anyone will remember or care about.
"I'm sorry. About your wife."