No. 161 – The First Casualty of Future War

Bad Company, here pictured on prog 1960’s (2015) cover by Brendan McCarthyDarkie’s Mob from Battle Picture Weekly, cover (18 June 1977) by Joe Colquhoun (1926–1987)

Prog 512’s Jim McCarthy cover – a film reference? Let us know!

Long-time 2000 AD writers John Wagner and Alan Grant had initially intended the strip to be a Judge Dredd spin-off featuring a corrupt judge who had been exiled to Saturn’s moon, Titan, and based on the Darkie’s Mob strip from the now-defunct Battle Picture Weekly comic, before handing the strip over to writer Peter Milligan and artists Brett Ewins (1955–2015) and Jim McCarthy. According to Colonel Marbles’ Battle fan site page on Darkie’s Mob, Peter Milligan and Brett Ewins have acknowledged Darkie’s Mob as the basis for the strip, which saw Burma [Myanmar] replaced by planet Ararat* in the sci-fi version, diarist Richard Shortland replaced by Danny Franks, and Darkie himself replaced by company leader Kano; the Japanese were ostensibly replaced by the Krool.

“The horror… the horror…”

The Frankenstein’s monster-like Kano with his half-Krool transplant brain is modelled on Marlon Brando’s (1924–2004) portrayal of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece set during the Vietnam War (1955–1975), Apocalypse Now (United Artists, 1979), itself based on Polish-British author Joseph Conrad’s (1857–1924) Heart of Darkness (Blackwood’s Magazine, 1899 serial; 1902 book), whose antagonist, the charismatic but increasingly isolated and unstable ivory trader Mr. Kurtz, is himself thought to be based on Belgian soldier and colonial official Léon Auguste Théophile Rom (1859–1924), who became prominent in the administration of the État indépendant du Congo [the so-called Congo Free State; modern Democratic Republic of Congo; formerly Zaire] during Belgium’s brutal occupation of the territory in the late 19th century under Leopold II (1835–1909).

Speculation on whether diarist Danny Franks’ name is a nod to diarist and Holocaust victim Anne Frank (1929–1945) is yet to be resolved. In the interests of good taste, here’s hoping it isn’t.

*Presumably named for Mount Ararat [formerly Mount Masis] in eastern Turkey, where Christian tradition holds that Noah’s Ark came to rest after the great flood (Genesis 8:4)


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