Review – Rogue Trooper Classics #3 (Of 12) (IDW Publishing)

RogueTrooperClassics03-coverPublisher: IDW (2000AD)
Writer: Gerry Finley-Day
Artist: Dave Gibbons, Colin Wilson, Mike Dorey
Release Date: July 2nd 2014

Re-releases of classic comics are an interesting beast. For those of us brought up on 2000AD and the Megazine, they run the risk of being simply nostalgia, and for those not familiar, they can seem at best dated and at worst self-indulgent.

Luckily, this Rogue Trooper collection manages to avoid this, for the most part. The single issue and short arc format really lends itself well to the collection.  There’s two complete stories, the second part of a previous and the first 2 parts of another – a satisfying mix.

For the uninitiated, Rogue Trooper is a GI, a Genetic Infantryman: a bright blue supersoldier bred for an eternal war by the South to fight the North. The last of his kind, the minds of his unit stored on chips in his helmet, pack and gun. Unlike his buddies, he sees war as futile, hence he has gone Rogue, but cannot escape his sense of loyalty, honour and duty.

The first storyline, The Rookies, actually works brilliantly as a stand-alone issue, and a tremendous introduction to the key themes of RT generally: the pointlessness of war, fanaticism, loyalty and all-too human conflict. Gibbons’s glorious art is muted, stylised and sinister, with some fabulous block coloured panels that jump out of the page.

The second story, Blue Moon, runs the risk of feeling brash from its colouring and simplistic from its storyline, but manages to dodge these with a tight, bare resolution, whilst the third, Poison, is stark and elegant, a low-key story told on a restricted palette. It fits well in the volume as a whole because of the pacing also, while setting up plot points for layer issues to keep us keen.

It’s only the last story, Fear of the Machine, which is shamelessly split into the next collection and feels a bit lacklustre. It falls into the trap of computer based scifi being outdated, like a poor man’s Tron. Also, it’s driven by Rogue’s chips as a storyline, which means it lacks the driving nihilism that is the comic’s strength.

But that aside, it’s a tremendous collection and a worthy addition to any library.

Rating: 4/5

 The writer of this piece was: Sam de Smith

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