Three pages of the first episode of 2000AD story “Ant Wars”, which debuted in the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic back in 1978, are up for sale on eBay.
Written by Gerry Finley-Day, the strip is drawn by the brilliant Spanish artist José Ferrer, lettered by Steve Potter, and first featured in Prog 71, cover dated 1st July 1978.
In “Ant Wars”, most recently collected by Rebellion in 2018, pest control isn’t going to fly when the bugs bite back! When military personnel spray an untested insecticide on ants in the Brazilian rainforest, the colony mutate into super-intelligent creatures – with a taste for human flesh!
As the terrifying army head closer towards civilisation, Captain Villa and a young forest native race ahead in the vain attempt to warn a thoroughly unprepared world…
Running for just 15 episodes, “Ant Wars” is one of many great one-off stories published by 2000AD, and Ferrer puts his all into the opening episode with Lozano, Alfonso Azpiri and Pena also providing the art on later episodes.
The strip is aimed fairly and squarely at its young teenage audience who, back in the 1970s, were mostly too young to gain entry to screenings of B-movie style films such as Empire of the Ants, released in 1977, still rated 15 today, but would have thrilled to screenings of the 1954 film Them! on the BBC (shown in 1974, and again as part of a late night double bill in August 1978), or the 1954 film The Naked Jungle, shown in 1975, which pitted Charlton Heston against hungry soldier ants.
“Ant Wars” first ran in 2000AD progs 71 – 85, the finale leaving the way open for the giant ants return, which never happened, although “Zancudo” by the late Si Spurrier and Cam Kennedy, which ran in Judge Dredd Megazine 231 – 233 could be considered a kind of sequel.
Set in 2127AD, high above the Peruvian rainforest, in “Zancudo”, vast, eerie creatures fix compound eyes on a vessel transporting the notorious Fendito “the Bandito” back into custody in the South-Am mega-city of Cuidad Barranquilla. For ‘Banana City ’ judges Xavi Ancizar and Sofia Perez, the bug hunt is just beginning …
Although never to return to 2000AD, the story clearly left its mark. It was later reprinted in in new Eagle (issues 217, cover dated 17th May 1986 to 231, cover dated 23rd August); and Quality Comics US format Scavengers comic (Issues 22 – 26 in the UK, published in 1988 and 1989, the title numbering continuing the numbering of QC’s Spellbinders comic). Rebellion’s 2018 collection of Ant Wars also includes “Zancudo”.
• Ant Wars is available here from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link) | ISBN 978-1-78108-622-3
With thanks to Richard Sheaf for spotting this sale