Rogue Trooper #1
Brian Ruckley / Alberto Ponticelli / Stephen Downer
Reviewed by Seth
So, this would be Rogue Mark III? The whole Friday/ Rogue thing became such a confusing (and unnecessary) mess as summarised here:
that following it became a thankless task.
Thankfully, IDW went to “classic” Rogue as the basis for the re-boot rather than the dull as dishwater “Friday” mark II version. Gunnar, Bagman and Helm are all present and correct, but with an interesting spin.
A short synopsis at the beginning of the issue sets the scene. Rogue is the sole survivor of the betrayal and massacre of the Genetic Infantrymen regiment, created by the Southers in their war with the Norts, specifically to fight in the battle for the strategically vital planet of Nu Earth.
The issue starts with Rogue rescuing a Souther prisoner from certain death from the Norts. The grateful rookie is used for exposition and setting the scene, but the action doesn’t let up. The issue hits the ground running and various plot threads are spun which will play out over the series’ run. It’s clear that although following the spirit of the original series, this will be a slightly different beast.
Ruckley hasn’t written a comic before. Apparently he has written a few fantasy novels, but makes a good fist of this, an excellent first attempt. Well paced and scripted, setting plenty of teasers and plot threads, even though we all know where this is going, how we get there is going to be the fun part. Ruckley has kept to the original plot, but has thrown in a few new elements to meet the demands of a 24 page monthly comic (and to be honest the new market and an older readership). Better scripted and with a stronger grip on the source material than the regular IDW Dredd series.
Ponticelli draws like it is an Italian version of Jock, how can you not like that? You might be familiar with his work in “Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E”, “Unknown Soldier”, and “Dial H For Hero”. Chunky, gritty, sketchy and suitably “untidy” (in the nicest possible way), for a battlefield. Perfectly portraying the chaos of war on the polluted planet.
It’s difficult as it is to come to this as a new reader, he’s never been quite my favourite, but I do love Rogue. There is lots and lots of baggage coming with this, but it’s an interesting revamp. It follows the same pattern of the Gerry Finley Day and Dave Gibbons launch of the early eighties, but it’s grittier, gaining a sharper edge, bloodier than before and with more depth. Rogue himself is far colder, more ruthless, but equally troubled and disturbed by the death of his comrades.
I always liked the speech bubbles headed from the bio chips with their numbers and identifiers; not using that loses some of the spirit of the original. The redesign of the back pack / Bagman is quite a cool idea, though I’m not quite sure if it works for me. Personally, I always liked Rogue’s original helmet (fnarr/ooer etc). Rogue version III’s bone dome looks a little like a modern day fire-fighter’s helmet, it might very well be more practical, but it looks a bit I dunno , nerdy? Of course, it doesn’t help that cover artists Glenn Fabry and Ryan Brown have drawn Rogue’s equipment more in the spirit of the original Rogue, with only the gun being the modern version. I’m surprised editorial didn’t intervene, though I have to say I favour the old version. I can’t work out whether that is because I’m a traditionalist / conservative (Small c – just make sure there is no misunderstanding on that one) or just personal preference.
Reboot 3? Maybe, but this works for me. Action packed, characterisation that is spot on and some fantastic art, a grand re-telling of a great story.
Can we have micro mines and sammys in the next issue though please?