COMIC REVIEW: Rogue Trooper - Tales of Nu-Earth 01
Rambo has nothing on Rogue...
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Where has 2000 AD been my whole life? Better question: why has it taken so long for this insanely good sci-fi comic to reach American shores? Until recently, Britain's best kept secret has been reserved for readers across the pond and those willing to pay exuberant import prices. Now, thanks to new affordable editions created just for the North American market, my peers and I can at long last enjoy the "Galaxy's Greatest Comic". Following my eye-opening reviews of Judge Dredd: Crusade (HERE) and Sláine: Books of Invasions 1 (HERE), my 2000 AD education continues with the recent release of Rogue Trooper: Tales of Nu-Earth 01. Like my prior knowledge of Dredd (a lawman) and Sláine (a barbarian), I knew very little about Rogue Trooper except that he was a blue soldier. Humm, yeah. Time for another eye-opener...
Tales of Nu-Earth 01 collects the earliest Rogue Trooper stories (known as "progs") that were released from its explosive origins in 1981 all the way to 1983. 400 pages of black and white illustrated action. It's like watching three entire seasons of your favorite show at your own convenience. Our tale takes place on a planet called Nu-Earth, which as the name implies, is similar to our own planet except that it has been ravaged by years of massive chemical warfare. To breath Nu-Earth's atmosphere is to spell certain death; the rules of engagement between the fighting Norts (bad guys) and Southers (good guys) played out in bio-suits, bayonets and bullets. Secret weapons of war are quickly developed with the Southers creating the Genetically-Engineered Infantry - or G.I.s - soldiers that can withstand the harshest conditions, immune to all known Nu-Earth poisons. Rogue Trooper tells the story of Rogue (yes, that's actually his name), the last living G.I. after an ambush wipes out his entire squad. Rogue's special equipment - helmet, rifle, and backpack - each contain the bio-chip of a "dead" buddy - Helm, Gunnar and Bagman (again, their real names - get it?). Together they go AWOL and set off on a manhunt to find the traitor who killed all the G.I.s. He is... Rogue Trooper!
You get all that? No worries, it's all quickly and easily explained within the first couple of stories, which also just happen to be my favorites. Not only is the newness to Nu-Earth's planetary war fresh and exciting, but series co-creator Dave Gibbons - best known for his later work on Watchmen - kicks Rogue Trooper off in style with his bold and crisp comic art style. While Gibbons' run on Rogue Trooper is all too brief, equally slick art from the likes of Colin Wilson, Brett Ewins, and Cam Kennedy easily fill the void. On rare occasion we receive Mike Dorey's more relaxed art style, and while I prefer the tighter pen work from the others, Rogue Trooper writer and co-creator Gerry Finley-Day always manages to keep the page turning. Again, the beginning stories are some of the best as Rogue Trooper is quickly thrown into one interesting combat situation after another; the growing mystery of the Souther traitor quickening the pace.
Rogue Trooper is action-packed and full of intense battles, but the playful banter between Rogue and his three bio-chipped comrades adds some much needed levity. Sometimes the humor goes a little overboard, as in the nineteen-part story "Fort Neuro" where Rogue meets up with some hi-ho happy campers and - I kid you not - gets down in a disco (?!). These are unique instances, however, as for the most part Rogue Trooper will have you rootin' for team blue to kick some more Nort butt. Almost as a special guest, Alan Moore, also of Watchmen fame, steps in for writing duty on the last two stories. While good reads, Moore's stories struck me as a bit too serious in comparison to the majority of Rogue Trooper's lighter "shoot 'em up" tone.
400 pages. That's a lot of Rogue Trooper to digest, and for this newbie, was one heck of an eye-opener. I didn't want it to end, and for many page-turning hours, it didn't. Rogue Trooper is a cool sci-fi concept made excellent by its unforgettable hero(s). Rambo has nothing on Rogue... and I'm talking more than him just being a blue soldier.
Rogue Trooper: Tales of Nu-Earth 01 is priced at $19.99 and available now at all major U.S. bookstores.
Review By Jeff Saylor
Art and Review Sample Courtesy of 2000 AD
Last edited by JeffSaylor; 06-28-2012 at 08:40 AM.