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AntWars

by ModernPanther on February 06, 2018

Writers: Gerry Finley-Day; Si Spurrier
Artists: Jose Luis Ferrer: Alfonso Azpiri; Cam Kennedy; Lozano; Pena
Publisher: Rebellion

 

In the rainforests of Brazil, the use of an experimental pesticide causes ants to mutate to unnatural size and intelligence. Major Villa of the Brazilian army, accompanied by a young tribesman known only as Anteater, flee the encroaching swarm. They witness settlements and eventually whole cities fall in its wake. The invading army destroys all before it. Can nothing stop the terrible rise of these mutant monsters?

Ant Wars plays with the idea that whilst mutated insects might be the obvious danger, the real monster is the human race.

As the story begins, the Brazilian military is engaged in ethnic cleansing, forcibly relocating and “civilising” Amazonian tribespeople.

They also use the opportunity to do a little field testing on a new pesticide, which it turns out, has the undesirable side effect of creating giant superbugs. Something you’d think would be ironed out in the lab.

When one of the kidnapped tribesmen escapes from the re-education camp, he is pursued into the jungle, where a badly flown helicopter results in Anteater and the horrible Villa fleeing through the rainforest, pursued by great big giant ants.

But whilst the mutant insects cause havoc, the real monsters are the humans they meet along the way

From the incredibly bigoted lead character, the evil capitalist plantation owner, the bored gamblers looking for their next victim, the self indulgent revolutionaries, or the guys who decided to field test pesticides without adequate lab tests, and then don’t bother even keeping an eye on their experiment.

Even when the ants are mandibling the legs off some poor farm hand, it’s the humans who are the monsters.

Originally published in the pages of 2000AD in five or six page episodes, AntWars moves quickly. Its simple storytelling provides characters who may not be very deep, but certainly fulfil the role as intended. Villa, who finds himself struggling to survive in a world he doesn’t understand and is unwilling to accept, is an almost irredeemably terrible person, who begins the story as a bitter racists, and ends up as a slightly less bitter racist. His sidekick, Anteater, plays the simple role of a noble tribesman, with little else to his character. There’s a small and subtle character arc, but AntWars is all about unrelenting action.

AntWars is brutal and angry. It’s filled with the horrors of racism and colonialism, whilst at the same time not above introducing comedy Scotsmen wandering South American after visiting for the 1978 World Cup. It doesn’t do anything unexpected, until perhaps the very end.

AntWars is accompanied by Zacundo, which acts as a slightly underwhelming sequel to the original story, and drags the whole premise into the Dredd-Universe. The insects have forged their own empire in the jungles of South America, taking humans as slave workers. Zacundo plays with the same ideas, providing broadly written characters and self-aware stereotypes, but also introduces a strange style of narration. Zacundo is an interesting idea, opening up the concept for use in Dredd’s world.

Our Score:

8/10

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