A long time ago, I found an old pile of comics that a chemistry teacher had. Classic British comics, like Eagle, Warlord – and 2000 AD. As well as introducing me to Judge Dredd (and luring me in to find a host of others myself), one series jumped out at me: Rogue Trooper. It’s been a stable part of my comic diet for over 25 years, so I can feel quite precious about it; in ‘Jaegir’ from 2000AD we’re finally getting the other side of this long war explored to great success, too. And then I hear that someone – not a comic writer, mind you, let alone a 2000AD stalwart – is going to reboot it (everything’s getting a reboot these days…), it puts the serious fear on me.
I needn’t have worried. This is Rogue Trooper, in all his terrible, tormented glory. The characterisation is spot on, and I’ve rarely seen his dead comrades (in the form of AI chips in his equipment)written better: the distinct personalities are there, the gallows humour’s there, but they’re more human than ever. If anything, they make many of the human characters within the broader story seem flat and lacking depth, but I can just about live with that. Better yet, this is a highly accessible comic, providing an entry-level narrative that manages to not retcon, but rather sit within the establish Rogue Trooper continuity comfortably. An astonishing feat, especially in the modern comics era, and one of the book’s strongest selling points.
That would, however, be a disservice not only to Ruckley’s narrative – introducing some intriguing characters into the broader scheme of things, also – but Ponticelli’s compelling art. The various poisonous wastelands of Nu-Earth have rarely looked so desolate, the colours leeched out of the landscape, while the characters are portrayed in all their grim desperation and the framing brings everything together.
Is this a niche product? It would be the only thing stopping full marks, perhaps. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but then, what is? I for one will be recommending this all over, and it’s about time you picked it up, soldier.
The Writer of this piece was: Sam De Smith
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