He's bad, he's blue, and he's not of this earth. Actually, he has been designed to withstand the toxic atmosphere of Nu Earth and bred to be a perfect killing machine. Who is this person? Why, he's Rogue Trooper of course. One of the most beloved characters from the 2000 AD Universe who has been rereleased in both old and new forms by IDW Publishing. And I must say that both forms are really, really good. If you have been following the "new" version of Rogue for the past three issues, then you have seen him displayed in all of his best poses. He has destroyed the enemy, saved friends, and searched for answers as to how such an elite squadron of super soldiers could have been destroyed in the first place. His squadrons of GIs (Genetic Infantry) were massacred in a place called the Quartz Zone during their inaugural mission. All, so far have been done with great respect and care given to the original source material that was created by Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons in the 1980s. Writer Brian Ruckley and artist Alberto Ponticelli have taken the classic Rogue and addressed interesting new angles of the characters as he fights the Nort menace like he was bred to do. Yet, he also works to help his Souther brethren while at the same time eluding the authorities who wish to bring him in and deal with him accordingly. What we get is a complex man who has a torn responsibility of being a soldier as well as being a fact finder trying to discover a traitor within the midst of the Souther elite. And it has been pretty awesome so far.
As Issue #4 begins, Rogue has been captured (without a fight) by a crack unit of military police. They are working on getting him collected when Rogue escapes and utilizes the burnt out landscape of Nu Earth to try to get away. But these soldiers are considered "crack" for a reason and may just be too much for our Rogue to handle. Only through reading these wonderfully written passages will we know if they are successful in reeling Rogue in or if he will escape and live to fight another day.
The pace at which Ruckley continues this tale has been solid and breakneck. There is little time for rest as Rogue goes to battle, heals, and goes to battle some more. Much like the entire landscape of Nu Earth itself, Ruckley has written the story as a ruthless locale, filled with danger at every turn with Rogue left to manage on his own with some help from three of his fallen comrades, Gunnar, Helm, and Bagman whose life's essence have been saved to disk form and are in "storage" awaiting new bodies. The pace has been blistering and deep. One other element presented is that we see deep conflict in Rogue as he ponders what to do when that enemy coming to get him is actually a friend. It is intriguing writing and Ruckley continues to nail it on every turn.
Though it is still early on, Ponticelli's artistic displays of Rogue have been wonderful. I earlier compared it to a listening to "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath and that artistic tone continues to persist. I think the biggest difference with this rendering of Rogue and the original (which has been released as Rogue Trooper Classics) is how Ponticelli has upped the destruction and violence a notch. Ponticelli's Nu Earth is a true Hell on Earth environment devoid of adequate sunlight, serene landscapes, or any life whatsoever, minus some pretty dag nasty giant roaches that have an appetite for human flesh. This place is utterly destroyed where the original still consisted of some cities and settlements for the most part. Ponticelli really makes this Rogue his own with this darker edge. And man, it is brutal to say the least.
This Rogue Trooper is some of the best stuff out in the comics world right now and I recommend it as a must read right now. Issue #4 does not deviate from the previous installments and from what I can tell; there is little sign of any letting up at all by Ruckley, Ponticelli, and company. Their collaboration keeps getting stronger and stronger leaving the reader salivating with "what's next" anticipation.
Writer: Brian Ruckley Artist: Alberto Ponticelli Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/21/14 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital