In any great comic written in the serial format, there is always that quintessential story arc; the one that defines a character and takes him or her to the next level. These types of stories will typically place the lead character into unfamiliar territory where he or she questions who they are and what they are doing. And once things are said and done, you just know that the character will never be the same. But it is in those great arcs that take the character to the next level and separate the awesome ones from the, eh, just ok ones. In the case of the classic 2000AD character Rogue Trooper, that story arc began over 30+ years ago back in 1982. The title of the arc was “All Hell on the Dix I Front” and it is really required reading for anyone who really wants to get to know what the essence of Rogue Trooper is all about. He is way more than just some blue skinned bad ass who wreaks destruction across the battlefields of Nu Earth. No, outside of those outward appearances, Rogue is a deep and introspective character stuck in the confines of the world in which he was bred to fight, all alone with the exception of three of his fallen comrades who he has preserved their life essences in chip form until a replacement body can be given to them, which will be never. Rogue is a relic of a war that he was supposed to be the game changer in, but became the goat thanks to acts of treachery. It’s pretty deep stuff.
Now back in the day, the only way to read this classic story was to do some digging through the archives of 2000AD and hunt down the original stories or one of the collected volumes. But that was then and this is now. IDW Comics has been releasing “Classics” reissues of the original Rogue Trooper stories, presented as they originally appeared back in the early 1980s with just a a slight addition of new color added that not only make these old stories come back. It makes them come back with some serious mojo. These “Classics” are the way a reissue should be and I credit IDW immensely for their fine work in bringing one of 2000AD’s best back and better then ever.
Issue #6 gave us the opening two parts of “All Hell on the Dix Front” and Issue #7 continues the story with parts three through eight presented within these pages. The fantastical conclusion will wrap with the “Classics” final issue #8. if you are not reading these “Classics” and are a 2000AD fan, then you need to be reading them. Rogue’s presentation really is fleshed out in this storyline and he becomes something way more than just some genetically engineered super soldier bent on seeking revenge on the traitor general who sold him and his comrades out in the Quartz Zone causing them to be massacred.
With “All Hell on the Dix I Front”, we see a Rogue who is forced to fight and defend the front from an all out invasion by the Nort forces by sabotage, by air, by land, and by sea. It’s an all out blitz that puts the whole area in harm’s way and puts Rogue in a position of responsibility for others that he has had few chances to do for much of his early run. Rogue must make decisions that ultimately may (and do) have consequences that are way beyond his control. Needless to say, Rogue is put into a position of vulnerability that he hasn’t felt since maybe the Quartz Zone Massacre itself. It all makes form some compelling reading that touches the reader to the core and sends this character into the stratosphere of 2000AD greatness.
Creator and writer Gerry Finley-Day had been well at work in making Rogue more fleshed out before this arc. But here, things begin to come together in a different way. Finley-Day had found his Rogue groove by this time and it clearly shows in the writing as each well placed episode covers Rogue dealing with a specific threat, while still tying everything in with superior timing and continuity. Finley-Day is in his element and these parts of the story pack a powerful punch. Through the readings we see, areas unaffected by the war, delusional leadership hanging on to the glory days of old and paying no attention to the reality confronting them, as well as Rogue having to deal with another character for an extended amount of time, and a female at that (Not many women portrayed on Nu Earth until this story).
The art here is done by committee featuring Brett Ewing, Cam Kennedy, and Colin Wilson. All do exceptionally well. But I still have a place in my heart for Colin Wilson who outside of maybe original Rogue Trooper art maestro Dave Gibbons portrays Rogue with so much passion and energy.
The only bad thing I can say about Rogue Trooper Classics is that it will be wrapping up with issue #8. It has been one super fun run for the past several months that really rekindled my love for the character and has had me digging up old 2000AD issues finding additional “classic” tales. This one is definitely worth a go.
Writer: Gerry Finley-Day Artists: Brett Ewing, Cam Kennedy, and Colin Wilson Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/12/14 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital