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Subj: IDW's Rogue Trooper...
Posted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 04:22:40 pm EDT (Viewed 163 times)
With their successful adaptation of Judge Dredd publisher IDW have dipped again into the well of the iconic British anthology series 2000AD and plucked forth Rogue Trooper for an introduction to the American market.
As with many of 2000AD's early character concepts Rogue Trooper is a product of a post apocalyptic setting and is heavily science fiction orientated, like his other 2000AD cousin Strontium Dog Rogue Trooper is genetically augmented superman, his life governed purely by his calling to fight and the harsh environment he is perfectly adapted to live in. In a very real sense then this is a character well ahead of his time - Rogue Trooper with his militaristic neo-futurist setting was the precursor of what we see happening in modern gaming culture. He then is the ideal gaming concept, born early
So with two issues now released how well does IDW's translation of the character work? Very surprisingly, given the limited nature of the character, I can report it is a success. IDW overcome considerable hurdles in their translation to deliver a fine introductory read.
This, out of all of 2000AD's back catalogue, is perhaps the hardest of characters to adapt for any new audience. The world Rogue Trooper operates in is not one we can easily relate to, Nu-Earth is a toxic wasteland, and he himself is a purpose built super-soldier with blue skin and a purely military function, not the type of character one can expect to connect with the interests of a mass audience, but for this series writer Brian Ruckley's script avoids these possible hurdles by focusing purely on the Rogue's bid for daily survival and the sense of mission that fuels his forward movement. A deserter from his now decimated unit he has few allies on this conflict engulfed world and enemies come from all quarters, especially the forces of his own side who now assume him a deserter - The Southers.
The war on Nu-Earth is perpetual. And it is not lost to him that Rogue Trooper would have no function or existence outside of this environment, but while the character is capable of moments of such introspection he is in the end a product of his nature, genetically bred to fight in War. The thrust of his story then is surviving, fighting, and searching for the truth behind the massacre that resulted in him deserting his post. On the one hand his is a tale of a soldier questioning authority and the motives of his superiors, the sad fact is though that in a war setting like this, with the generals and power men far far away, Justice is a scarcely achievable goal for him. A lowly footsoldier knows only how to fight like-for-like on the ground, and the operations and abstractions of the powers above him are certainly beyond any reach.
For this first storyline Brian Ruckley keeps the action confined, with Rogue coming across an isolated bunker with a handful of Southern troops they find themselves beset by the enemy and ultimately a kill-squad sent by central command to bring down the Trooper. Ruckley keeps the script largely free from heavy exposition and while some facets of the concept will be difficult to decipher at first even the newest reader can quickly slide into the hostile world of Nu-Earth.
Ruckley is joined by Italian artist Alberto Ponticelli, himself no stranger to war comics and bizarre characters. Ponticelli's composition for the first two issues is rather odd to look at as it consists of mostly mid-shots, there are very few close-ups and the lack of variety to panel/page composition can be somewhat static to look at initially, but upon reading the story itself his work complements the tone and content of the script extremely well. It might have behoved IDW to go for a more unconventional approach to art, but given the challenging nature of selling Rogue Trooper to the American market Ponticelli's more reliable style was the sensible way to go.
The end result two issues in is a book that is very enjoyable. Despite what seems a very limited concept on paper Brian Ruckley manages a surprisingly able feat in making this character and his situation engaging to the reader and ensuring enough of a sense of humanity to him to enable some audience sympathy. The sad part of the equation is the rumour of poor sales necessitating a very abrupt curtailing of the project. We may not even see the end of the first storyline alas, which is a great shame as this book is notably more engaging than a good deal of their Judge Dredd output thus far. Hopefully Brian Ruckley can at least get his initial story out before the series is curtailed....
The use of shading and low level colour is superb in accentuating the imaginative use of scale and approaching danger
by which Alberto Ponticelli gives to Rogue Troopers reconnaissance.
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