Pat Mills returns to ‘Flesh’, a story that started with the very first prog (British for “issue”) of 2000 A.D. with art from James McKay and letters by Ellie de Ville. It’s been awhile since there was a proper ‘Flesh’ story gracing 2000 A.D. with its prescience let alone a sequel to the original story. This sequel is touted as “65 Million Years in the Making” and has a lot of hype to live up to; and it does, delivering all 65 million years of it.
It is the 23rd century and, well, food is scarce, so the most logical thing to do is to send people or Cowboys as they are known back in time to hunt dinosaurs for their meat. Many companies compete in this new food market. One such company, and the focus of the ‘Flesh’ story, is TransTime, or TT as they are commonly known. This all sounds like a recipe for disaster, which it is, but it also makes for one hell of a story. To the cowboys’ these dinosaurs are no more than some cattle herd and to the TT Corporation the Dinosaurs are no more than a profit margin.
Prog 1724 sets the table for the story in only a way Pat Mills can. Without having any knowledge of the previous stories, a reader can pick this story up and run with it. Pat Mills uses the messages sent from the Future from TT CEO Leo Karolas to explain why the cowboys are in the past, and plant the seed of the disaster of Base 3 (from the original story). What also gets set up in the story is a new foil (the orginal series had One Eye): the T-Rex. This story’s T-Rex is not at all what it appears to be.
Prog 1725 gets into the meat of story of ‘Flesh’. Boss McGurk (the Lead cowboy) has a run in with the mysterious T-Rex and he discovers that the dinosaur is faster and stronger, by outrunning McGurk, and is immune to his weapons. Here it is hinted that this T-Rex is different than most and could have something to do with the demise of Base-3.
Pat Mills’ writing, like always, is fundamentally sound – wasting no time planting threads and getting the story moving. The short format of the 2000 A.D. anthology does not allow for the story to meander, but by no means is the story light on plot. Mills really shines at setting the hook and kicking the story off at a breakneck pace. A fun touch that Mills adds to the book is the juxtaposition of current media outlets and future media outlets through the messages sent back from TT CEO Leo Karolas.
James McKay’s art lends a dark and sketchy look to the book and has a classic 2000 A.D. feel to it. McKay’s art is rendered so well that you can almost see the sweat pouring off their bodies as they work in the humid environment of the Cretaceous period. It’s easy to draw a scary T-Rex, but it’s difficult to draw a terrifying T-Rex. McKay pulls it off effortlessly. After reading the book, the reader is left looking for a shower to clean the dirt, soot and blood off.
Each part of ‘Flesh’ quickens the storytelling and has us wanting a brontosaurus burger.