"I was dead inside and surrounded by darkness" - Danny Frank's Diary
So, here is part two of my look at this collection of the first (and best) three story arcs dealing with future humanity's war with a genocidal race of aliens called the Krool. Bad Company were a team of misfits fighting on the planet Arrarat, led by a huge brute of a man called Kano who has had half his human brain removed and replaced with half a Krool's giving him a special hatred of them. At the end of Bad Company, most of them were killed taking out the Krools main base on the planet Arrarat. Kano's whereabouts is unknown while the most "normal" of Bad Company, Danny (our POV character), Mac and "Mad" Tommy also survived and escaped the dying Arrarat in a Krool spaceship. Now it's two years later, both Earth and Arrarat have blown up and humanity is reduced to a few "ghetto" colony planets and the Krool remain a major danger for them. It's decided that a new Bad Company will be formed with Danny, Mac and Tommy as the basis of this new team. The first arc - The Bewilderness - concentrates on the collecting of the new members and Kano's struggles with the Krool side of his brain periodically taking him over and driving him to commit heinous acts outside of his control.
|The "mysterious" being.|
Danny: "Maybe there's no such thing as motivation anymore. Maybe that only belongs in books and plays. Maybe real life is badly plotted. The story all wrong. Just a meaningless string of meaningless unrelated incidents."
|De Racine and Protoid|
Kano: "The wilderness. I must lose myself in the wilderness. It is the only safe place. No more people. No more Krool. I must lose myself in the bewilderness."
Back with Bad Company, they collect their next member, Rackman. He is a human survivor of a Krool torture camp, who says he learned to enjoy the pain they dished out on him and now chases that pain by always wading into where the fighting is hardest. They then head out to get their final member, a woman called Sheeva. She is a human woman with psychic powers, a "Boom Baby", one of a few created as an experiment and the only one left alive. She is able to blow things apart by "making the atoms dance" but she also has empathic healing abilities as well.
|Rackman. Can you tell he loves pain?|
As they leave to collect Sheeva, Mac queries the motives of their fellow companions:
Mac: "An alien who hates humans. A human who hates humans. A man who loves pain, and a madman who's a total pain. Just what or who are this lot fighting for Danny?"
"Don't know, Don't care" is basically Danny response, he himself is fighting for revenge. They find Sheeva caring for some sick aliens. She demonstrates her explosive powers then as they leave Mac steps on a landmine. When he comes to, he discovers he's lost an arm. Sheeva comes to comfort him, saying his arm is part of the universe now, creation and destruction, the cosmic dance. But as Mac bitterly notes:
Mac: "That still doesn't help a one armed man untie his boots at night does it?"
Later, after getting a lead on where Kano is, Bad Company fly to All Our Yesterdays. There Kano has been restrained by a gang of humans and is allowing them to hurt him, he's given up and wants to die. But one of the humans kills the little fairy that had been Kano's companion and this sends Kano into a rage and he starts lashing out, then comes face to face with Danny.
|So we meet again...|
Kano: "I know something about Protoids. There's one spot on the back. Grab it hard and right and you're useless aren't you.. can't even change shape."
Later round a fire, Kano tells them about his losses of control. Protoid calls them "neuroflips". Kano's travelling to the Krool dungeon where half his mind is while the insane Krool half takes over Kano's body and lashes out indiscriminately. So Kano, now resolute gets up and says:
Kano: "I'm going to a reunion party Danny. I'm going to the Krool Heart."
He tells them that if he can learn to control the Krool he shares a brain with, he can do serious damage to the Krool Heart now it's at the end of it's cycle and weakened and corrupted. They decide to test it by tying Kano up in a restraining cage and letting him deliberately neuroflip. Alas the cage is not strong enough and Kano bursts free and with the Krool in charge of his body he ends up killing Mad Tommy before he can regain control. They commit Tommy's body to the stars and carry on towards the planet of the Krool Heart. And so ends The Bewilderness arc.
|So speaks Kano.|
The Krool Heart arc differs from the others in that as well a excerpts from Danny's diary it is told in a manner that implies a flashback, from an omniscient narrator who's identity is revealed at the end.
Narrator: "I have no face. But the route of this story will define it's contours and show me who I am."
They land on a planet near the Krool Heart one and find a huge torture camp. Their pain is being distilled and collected in a pit of "universal suffering". Danny decides to rescue everyone but during the battle Kano neuroflips and knocks Danny into the pit. After the battle is won they pull him out and he tells them what it was like. It was "wonderful". He tries to describe it, that it hurt so much it became unbearable bliss instead.
|The pit of pain.|
Sheeva: "A religious experience Danny. You have been behind the curtain."
Danny: "And now I know it's not pointless. There's something beyond all this suffering and pain. All this means something."
The others are somewhat skeptical and they arrive at the Krool planet. Restrained, Kano neuroflips into his Krool body and takes control of it and starts to cause mayhem in the Krool ranks. Kano's body starts to change much to Protoid's amusement, who expected this. Rackman, Sheeva and Danny head down to the planet surface. Rackman's feet are trapped in some rapidly growing vines. He falls forwards and a crevice opens up beneath him and his hands are secured on the other side. The crevice starts to grow, stretching him painfullly. Danny and Sheeva can't free him and realising he is going to die, he reveals his terrible secret - he wasn't tortured by the Krool, the Krool made him torure other humans as his punishment and he has been seeking redemption via pain ever since. Sheeva puts him out of his misery and she and Danny move on.
|Kano's Krool "brother".|
Back on the ship, Protoid reveals his true colours and attacks the rest of Bad Company. Mac blasts a hole in the side of the ship and gets himself and the caged Kano out. De Racine is not so lucky and Protoid immobilises him before snipping his head off with his hand that had transformed into scissors. Kano returns to his body and Danny reaches the heart. Protoid appears and knocks him down saying he plans to replace the growing baby Heart and have all the power of the Krool birthed into him. But Kano and Mac appear and together the three of them kill Protoid.
|Even Protoids have groins it appears.|
Danny: "Protoid isn't a creature with a ship, but a ship with a creature!"
Kano is losing the battle with his "brother", but manages to take control of him long enough to steer him over the edge of a cliff. The Krool dies, leaving Kano finally free. In a panic over Protoid gaining control of the Krool Heart, Danny runs towards it and hurls himself at it.
Danny The Krool Heart: "Danny hardly feels his legs beneath him. Is barely concious of the heart before him. It's as though he's been running to the heart all his life. Something within the aging heart makes a decision. It choses Danny. It knows it will die. It knows it's offspring will be killed and now I know who I am!"
|Danny jumping into the Krool Heart.|
Danny The Krool Heart: "See how already I am letting the people breathe the air of liberty. I can create whatever universe I please. Not with force but with persuasion. I can see some people will cause problems. Some people won't understand. I will make them understand."
Danny tells Mac and Kano to leave in case they try to hurt him. They do so, with Kano saying that Danny fought Krool his whole life, now he's defeated them by taking over their empire. But all that power...well let's hope this time it does not corrupt. The story ends with a full page of Danny The Krool Heart thinking to himself.
Danny The Krool Heart: "I will always remember who I am. I am Danny Franks. I am the Krool Heart".
|What an ending!|