01/04/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: 2000AD/Rebellion. 400 page hardback graphic novel. Price: £15.99 (UK. ISBN: 978-1-906735-34-0.
check out websites: www.2000adonline.com and www.rebellion.co.uk
With all the books Rebellion are releasing of 2000AD characters, other than 'Strontium Dog', 'Rogue Trooper' was the one I was most eager to see released. Reading these stories again, one of the strongest impressions I get is that it would make a great film.
'Rogue Trooper' is both that in name and apparent deed. One of a platoon of Genetically-Engineered Infantrymen and ultimately, he is the only survivor from a traitorous attack in the Quartz Masacre, saving the memory chips of Bagman, Gunnar and Helm that he logs in and runs his backpack, rifle and helmet until they can be installed in new cloned bodies.
Nu-Earth is a wreck from chemical warfare, torn apart in a total war between the Norts and the Southers. Rogue is a Souther GI by the way, adapted to breathe in any atmosphere. Rather distinctive with blue skin and a blonde tight Mohawk haircut. To his own people, Rogue has gone awol but he is seeking out the traitor and taking out the Norts in any fire fights along the way. Don't think this is all about war, creator and writer Gerry Finlay-Day is there throughout the majority of the stories and develops them at his own pace. War is hell, even in the future and on a different planet. Even more, Finlay-Day will twist plots so things aren't always what they seem. The dialogue between Rogue and his dog-chip buddies shows the strength of individual personalities, enhanced further when Bagman's chip is damaged, Helm becomes a big-head and Gunnar a little trigger-happy. If anything, Rogue is the calming force between them and yet in a war situation, they still pull together.
The artwork should be regarded as the clean variety. The newsprint '2000AD' was originally printed did not help the foreign artists who put so much detail into the background that it blurred a little. There is a habit of over-doing the imagery. With 'Rogue Trooper', it started off with artist Dave Gibbons who, like Brian Bolland, had a clean style that clearly benefited the stories. Yon can compare this to the art of Brett Ewins who filled in with the odd story that looked over inked in comparison. Nothing against either artist, this is more a recognition of what the eye gets used to when reading a story. I have to say that this is some of Gibbons' finest work that clearly had an influence on artists Colin Wilson and Cam Kennedy as well.
Although there is an underlying theme with these stories, it wasn't until many progs in that 'Rogue Trooper' had any multi-part stories and even then they were variable length before doing a staggering but hilarious eighteen-parter 'Fort Neuro'. This is not only an incredible satire of the then current day early 80s but locked into a more serious topic where under a continual siege that the military have mental breakdowns and take on characteristics of people who would be more at home in an asylum.
I should point out that Alan Moore, although credited, only wrote the two stories at the end of this volume that are reprinted from the 2000AD 1983-84 annuals.
Everyone of these stories is a gem and getting so many of the early stories under one cover makes this a worthwhile purchase. Picking out favourites is definitely tough so why not pick them all. Don't forget to get your full body respirator and armour and accept no leaks. Synth out.
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