Mills And Ezquerra’s Vision Of The Future Is Now: Preview Third World War From Treasury Of British Comics
by Richard Bruton
When it came out, it was politically charged and packed a punch. Now, all these years later on, it’s never been more relevant. Welcome to the Third World War…
When it began in 1988, Crisis was a real departure for the 2000AD stable. Published fortnightly, only two strips, and pitched to the new adult audience for comics, it sits alongside the likes of Deadline, Toxic, Revolver, et al as examples of UK comics beginning to embrace a more European form, with more mature works breaking out of the underground and alternative.
Running 63 issues in total, the early plan was to do just two stories per issue, and for the first 15 issues that’s just what it did. One strip was John Smith and Jim Baikie (along with Sean Philips and Duncan Fegredo) giving us the grown-up supers tale of New Statesmen. But it’s Third World War, more than anything else, that defines Crisis as a comic, and it’s Third World War that’s the first Crisis strip to get the Treasury of British Comics collection deal with Volume One coming out on 9 January 2020.
Third World War, created by Pat Mills and Carlos Ezquerra, ran through most of the first 53 issues of Crisis, but it’s Book One, the first 14 episodes, where it’s most inspired, most cohesive, with Mills writing at his most political and Ezquerra drawing some of his greatest work.
To give you an idea of the sort of deal you’ll be getting here, we’re going to be showing you the first few pages of the storyline in a little while. But nothing really sets it up tonally like this first page…
It’s an unflinchingly political thing, concentrating on the economic, social, and political ideology of a world consumed by capitalism, corporate politics subsuming country politics, the dominance of global brands acting in lieu of the super-powers of old. It’s profoundly anti-establishment. And, like all the best speculative fiction, it’s been both shockingly prescient and never more relevant than it is right here, right now.
As for the tale itself, a lot of that is covered by the preview, a fantastic lesson in delivering the entire premise to what you’re about to see in quick, economical voiceover style.
But essentially, it’s the tale of Eve, unemployed after university and immediately conscripted into the ‘Freeaid Peace Force’, corporate overthrow of the Third World for profit, outsourced and exploited draftees bringing the word of the likes of Coola-Cola to the poor masses in those South American countries. But hey, it’s not a World War, this is the West reaching out, the new Empire building, missionaries with guns and corporate sponsorship….
Created using brand new scans of the original artwork supplied by the family of the late Carlos Ezquerra, this first volume of Mills and Ezquerra’s politically incendiary comic is even more terrifyingly real today.
So join Eve and the rest of her motley crew of damaged conscriptees, bringing the corporate message to the poor and downtrodden, winning hearts and minds, protecting them from those subversive elements wanting those dangerous freedoms. Welcome to the world of the Freeaid Peace Force, bringing she experiences the dark side of global corporation takeover, all neatly packaged as the West extending a helping hand to the Third World. But this isn’t charity, this is War, the Third World War.
Third World War, created by Pat Mills and Carlos Ezquerra, letters Gordon Robson, extra art by D’Israeli and Angela Kincaid. Originally published in Crisis issues #1-14, 1988-1989.
You can order your copy from here.