Back Issues: "Rogue Trooper" Prog 228 to 230 (1981)
- by Ninja Ross, 28 February 2014
This week, 2000AD turned 37 years old. That’s old, man! OLD!!! When most people think of 2000AD, they automatically think of Dredd. Dredd is the most famous character spawned by the long running anthology book, true; but he’s far from the only awesome badass.
G.I, in this case, stands for Genetic Infantryman. Rogue and his fellow soldiers were created to withstand the uninhabitable Nu-Earth, so they could fight the enemy without the need for protective masks. They’re stronger, faster and just plain better than the average soldier.
When a G.I falls in battle, they don’t just utter their last words, Shatner style; their personalities are absorbed into chips in their brains, which can then be removed by fellow G.I’s and placed into slots for safe keeping before they can be transferred into a new body. During the Quartz Massacre, when every other G.I was killed, Rogue managed to save three of his buddies and put them into appropriate slots: Gunnar was placed in a gun, Helm was placed in a helmet and Bagman- You get the idea.
In his first appearance, Prog 228, Rogue is wandering the wastes of Nu-Earth when he comes across a battle between the Southers (the good guys, who Rogue was originally aligned with) and the Norts (Nazis).
After helping the Southers in an effort to gain information about the man who betrayed the G.I’s. It’s here we find out that Rogue is, well... Rogue. After the massacre he went AWOL, refusing to report in so he could avenge his friends.
Since 2000AD is an anthology series, the whole intro takes place in about six pages. It’s not easy to make a reader care about a character so quickly AND introduce the plot.
In Prog 229, Rogue arrives in Nu Paree, where he kicks ass and takes names. Captured by Souther Military Police, Rogue is taken to a military base where he’s stripped of his weapon and questioned by the commanding officer of the base.
The place is swarmed by Nort soldiers, leaving only Rogue and one Souther alive. Rogue leaves the Souther behind as he and his companions continue their search.
Prog 230 gives us our first glimpse into what happened in the massacre. We see them launched into the battlefield, only to be greeted by Norts with all kinds of nasty looking weaponry. After quickly realising they were sent into a trap, the remaining G.I’s attempt to take down the enemy. In this flashback, we’re shown the death of Gunnar, just before his chip is placed into his own gun.
And that’s the first three stories featuring Rogue Trooper! The unfortunate thing about older anthology books is stories weren’t often told over time, but rather in the very limited space given. Six pages are not enough to tell a full story so they can sometimes feel quite rushed and unfinished. Day and Gibbons, however, manage to avoid these problems, for the most part.
Since the protagonist spends most of his time wondering Nu-Earth, these brief encounters make sense and actually fit the format. While it does make it difficult to develop Rogue as a character, they manage it pretty well, thanks to explanatory dialogue and captions.
Naturally, it suffers from the same problem all older comics had. A problem that puts me off reading a lot of classic titles; the assumption that readers forget everything before the next issue/Prog comes out. Lately, I’ve been reading Claremont’s original X-Men run for the first time and I find myself getting pretty sick of the constant “DON’T FORGET! THAT’S WOLVERINE! HE GOT THEM CLAWS, YOU REMEMBER?!? IN. HIS. HANDS. HANDS. HANDSSSS. STORM MAKE WEATHER HAPPEN! WHOOSH!”
It’s not as bad in 2000AD stuff, though; since it’s a weekly book, they could assume readers had less amnesia than they would if it only came out once a month. But, it’s still annoying to read a recap every six pages.
Besides that, the writing is pretty great. Day makes it easy to care about Rogue and his buddies, despite some cheesy dialogue and the plot is intriguing from the very start. It maintains the dark, gritty atmosphere that 2000AD has always been known for, without becoming a copy of Dredd.
The art is pretty freaking fantastic, too; Gibbons is a fantastic artist and can do sci-fi better than most. His Rogue design is simple yet memorable and iconic. Making a shirtless blue guy look awesome seems like it’d be pretty difficult, but Gibbon’s seems to pull it off perfectly. Not a big fan of the Mohawk, though.
Also, if (when) you pick up some classic Rogue trooper, I highly advise you pick up The War Machine, a recent graphic novel featuring Rogue. I reviewed that over at Indie Comix, just for YOU!
There’s also a pretty fantastic Rogue Trooper game, which came out a few years ago and went under the radar a bit (more on that in a future Forgotten Game Greats, Earthlets!)
Well? Ready to dig out some Rogue Trooper stories? You should! And when you do, let us know what you thought in the comments!