Originally published in four separate comics between March 2014 and May 2014, IDW’s adaptation of 2000 AD’s ‘Rogue Trooper’ story was written by Brian Ruckley with artwork by Alberto Ponticelli.  The ‘Rogue Trooper’ comic series was later published in a collected volume in September of 2014 entitled ‘Rogue Trooper: Last Man Standing’.

DLS Synopsis:
Ever since the conflict between the Southers and the Norts ravaged the galaxy, Nu-Earth had been left a war-ravaged wasteland.  Once a beautiful paradise with vast mineral reserves, now the planet was nothing more than a barren and hostile environment, with a noxious atmosphere that was toxic to breathe.

During the worst of the battles, the Southers had created purpose-built genetic infantrymen to fight within this lethal environment.  Men whose sole purpose was to fight and kill.  Merciless fighters who could withstand the ravages of war on top of the toxic wastelands of Nu-Earth.

But the genetically engineered infantrymen were betrayed.  The massacre at Quartz Zone was one of the bloodiest losses of life in the entire campaign.  Only one infantryman came out alive.  A deserter whose sole mission now was to find answers to what happened.  Answers and justice.

Fighting alone on Nu-Earth, the rogue trooper stalks the barren rocky landscape, searching out any Norts who have stayed for the rich minerals that could still be mined.  Embedded in his helmet, rucksack and gun, microchips containing the remaining fragments of his former soldiers.  Their voices spurring him on for justice.  Their assistance, still with him within the kit he carries.

But there are more threats out there than just random patrols of Norts.  The Southers want to extinguish any last remaining memory of the G.I.’s.  Having a rogue trooper roaming around Nu-Earth was not good for their image.  Especially one that had deserted his ranks.

Surviving on Nu-Earth isn’t easy.  Every minute of every hour there are hostiles at your back.  The enemy is always close, and being alone, you’re almost always outmanned and outgunned.  But for the rogue trooper, he has no choice.  He must keep pressing on.  Keep searching.  There are answers out there.  And he will find them for his fallen comrades.  Or die trying…

DLS Review:
There’s nothing like a post-apocalyptic war-ravaged toxic backdrop to set a hard-boiled and ultra-gritty sci-fi action story.  After all, a setting where the very atmosphere around you will kill you in a heartbeat, if you’re not properly protected from it, instantly adds an edge of harshness to the whole shenanigans.

Writer Brian Ruckley has picked up on this and utilised the Nu-Earth backdrop spectacularly.  Similarly artist Alberto Ponticelli and colourist Stephen Downer, have together, painted a washed-out picture of a depressive hell, with every angle, every rising backdrop, every view of the rocky world around, nothing but an endless expanse of grey.

Thrown into this grim environment Ruckley has thrust our hard-boiled principal protagonist – ‘Blue’ or ‘The Rouge Trooper’ if you prefer.  From the outset we follow this lonesome survivor as he ambushes and fights his way from day-to-day, propelled on by the need for answers.  As you’d expect, there’s plenty of explosive action and grisly fighting, with Rogue doing what he does best.

That’s all good.  The action-rich sequences are fast-coming and punchy in their chaotic fury.  Indeed, Ponticelli pulls out the best angles for illustrating these furious combats – with Rogue often seen blasting through entire patrols like a hot bayonet through flesh.

However, outside of the fight sequences we’re left scrabbling around somewhat for clues of the tale’s direction.  Don’t get me wrong – there’s a purposeful plot in there.  There’s actually a few subplots thrown in to boot, with the story sometimes jumping away from Nu-Earth and on to the Souther’s ‘Buzzard 1’ Command Space Station that’s orbiting the planet.  But it’s the haphazard and piecemeal way in which Ruckley spoon feeds us details of the story’s direction that doesn’t work all that well.  You can garner a reasonable idea of the tale’s direction as you work your way through.  However, there’s far too many times where you’ll look back in hindsight, suddenly realising the meaning of something that happened a few pages back.  It can be a tad frustrating to say the least.

That said, there’s still a lot to like about Ruckley’s ‘Rogue Trooper’.  It’s not as violent and rough around the edges as you’d expect (or had probably hoped for).  But it delivers an engaging enough storyline, with plenty woven in there to keep you entertained.  So it’s probably fair to say mission pretty much successful.

The graphic novel runs for a total of 90 pages (plus an additional 11 pages Art Gallery and 3 page Interview at the end).


© DLS Reviews

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