Those people at IDW Publishing are at it again. They have tapped into the vault of stories from the 2000 AD catalog and they are rendering new treatments (and classic reissues) of iconic characters from the good old mag. They began this process with Judge Dredd, introducing the iconic dystopian cop to a whole new generation of fans. Now, it would appear that they have their sights firmly squared onto Rogue Trooper, the menacing and very blue super soldier bred for battle and built for destruction who is waging a personal war, finding answers, and seeking vengeance on those responsible for the betrayal of his fellow GI’s (Genetic Infantry). He is the last and plans to go down fighting. Rogue Trooper has been a much beloved 2000 AD character and was created by Jerry Finley-Day and a guy who would become a legend by the name of Dave Gibbons. OK, before I start this review, I am going to ask you to do something. I need you to go find and cue up the song “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath….Have you done it yet??? I can wait… Great. Now that it is cued, go ahead and hit play… All right, that should establish the proper mood to read this review. Here we go…
After reading this issue, it is my hope that this Rogue Trooper can stay out for a while because we have a winner here. Writer Brian Ruckley and artist Alberto Ponticelli have hit this story like a thermonuclear grenade, blowing things up and bringing some serious new life into a classic character. OK, is the music still playing? Great, let’s continue…
Welcome to Nu Earth. Once a beautiful and lush paradise teeming with life. Now, a scorched and poisoned landscape of horrors that has choked out nearly any life, minus some giant cockroaches that have a large appetite for the carrion and waste that is abundant. This place is nothing but a desolate and barren hell hole fit not for man or beast. Even the air is so toxic and putrid that no human can handle it without breathing apparatus and super protective suits protecting their skin. Still, Planet Nu Earth is considered a crown jewel, sought aggressively by two warring factions, the Norts and the Southers. They will stop at nothing to win this land. “Why?” You ask. I’ll tell you why. Underneath Nu Earth’s war demolished landscape lie a vast treasure trove of mineral and natural resource riches… Possibly the most of any planet in the known universe. These two groups must gain this planet. Their futures may very well depend on it.
Enter the GIs (Genetic Infantry). They are the Souther’s answer in how to win this war or at least they were supposed to be. The GI’s were modified and made to handle the unrelenting destructive conditions that Nu Earth has to offer. They can breathe, fight, and live under the acrid death atmosphere of the planet without it affecting them at all. Upon their debut however, a “coincidence” occurred that set the super soldiers up in a Little Big Horn type situation. They were all massacred but one. And that one is pissed. Now, with his superior skills and the assistance of three “friends”, former GIs whose life essence has been loaded to chip form and sit in our soldier’s gun, pack, and helmet respectively, could be the only thing that can stop the Nort’s victory and uncover the Souther’s responsible for the massacre occurring. Ok. You can stop the music now.
Brian Ruckley writes this story straightforward, following Rogue as he encounters a squad of Norts that have captured some inexperienced Souther fighters. The story rolls from there displaying Rogue’s encounter with the bunch and finishing with his impromptu escort duty. Watching Ruckley work the script with Rogue’s interactions is greatly entertaining, especially when he acts with his three “chip” mates. You see and feel the camaraderie and the intensity is there too.
Alberto Ponticelli does a phenomenal job of capturing Rogue in his essence, alternating between solid action sequences and lighter moments. He displays Rogue as a stone cold warrior elite, an uncompromising bringer of death. But also as a man who is searching for answers. It blends in extremely well with Ruckley’s writing. As smooth a blending as Rogue’s skin is blue I would say. The two together are a perfect package of story and scenery set in the backdrop of total destruction.
If you are a fan of 2000 AD characters and stories, then you should read this work. I think you will find the character to be strongly intact to the original with only minor alterations present. If you are not a fan of 2000 AD characters and don’t want anything to do with them, then I suggest that you read this and see if it changes your opinion. Finally, if you know nothing of 2000 AD or its storied history, then I recommend that you give this guy and his tale a chance. It is as good of a reintroduction as I have seen.
Writer: Brian Ruckley Artist: Alberto Ponticelli Publisher: IDW Publishing Price $3.99 Release Date: 3/5/14