In the few years I’ve acquainted myself with the 2000 AD pantheon, Rogue Trooper is my least read feature. There hasn’t been a Rogue Trooper story in the pages of 2000 AD since a “What If” tale in 2012. The character hasn’t been forgotten, though. Matthew Sprange of Mongoose Publishing ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for a Rogue Trooper miniatures game last year.
Rogue Trooper is one of several Genetic Infantrymen, the ultimate fighting force created to turn the tide for the Southers in the war against the Norts. GIs are gifted with several advantages over humans including the ability to freely move about in the toxic atmosphere of Nu-Earth. However, an incident in the Quartz Zone left Rogue the only survivor. Rogue’s only company are his fallen comrades-turned-chips, Gunnar, Helm, and Bagman. Take a wild guess at where they’re implanted.
From what little I’ve seen of Rogue Trooper, it’s awesome. BBC posted the first Rogue Trooper story from 1981, written by Gerry Finley-Day and drawn by Dave Gibbons. It’s an efficient seven pages getting over the premise of Rogue Trooper and his struggle thanks to Finley-Day’s plotting. Gibbons illustrates some memorable images without going completely over the top. How does Brian Ruckley and Alberto Ponticelli’s version compare?
IDW’s Rogue Trooper is a clean slate which should allow for new twists and turns to the Rogue Trooper mythos. The first scene has Rogue freeing a Souther captive named Breaker. Okay, it’s less freeing and more Rogue splattering the Nort captors with bullets. From there, Rogue walks across the Nu-Earth wastelands trying to find out who was behind the massacre at the Quartz Zone with Breaker in tow.
The creative team does a solid job going over the Rogue Trooper premise. Rogue is determined to seek justice and is an excellent fighter, but isn’t a sociopath who’ll turn down potential allies. The blue-skinned GI’s bio-chipped trio gives him support and glimpse readers at their former humanity, for lack of a better word. Despite the one big splash page introducing a ready Rogue, the action flows well from panel to panel. One page displays a tour of the Nu-Earth’s varied desolation.
IDW’s first issue has almost three times the story pages as the first 2000 AD strip, but both have convinced me to follow the Rogue Trooper mythos. Rogue is an interesting protagonist, and I await how the story unfolds. Rogue Trooper has been tinkered with for over 30 years, and it’s time for new readers, including myself, to see why Rogue Trooper’s so compelling.
Rogue Trooper #1 is published by IDW. Issue written by Brian Rickley, drawn by Alberto Ponticelli, colored by Stephen Downer, and lettered by Tom B. Long. 20 story pages for 399 cents. Thanks to IDW for providing review copies.
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Cover by Glenn Fabry. Variant covers by: