Review: Rogue Trooper - Tales of Nu-Earth Vol 3 (2000AD) / Writer: Gerry Finley-Day / Artist: Steve Dillon / Release Date: Out Now
Rogue Trooper in space: from simple gun jockey to cosmic peacenik...
The A-Team, convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. Dr. Sam Beckett, quantum leaping from life to life, putting right what once went wrong. Rogue Trooper, Genetic Infantryman and last of his kind, stalking the traitor general who ambushed his clone comrades across the poisonous Nu-Earth.
All the above are big, formulaic sagas that everyone has caught an episode or two of. But few are those who know how it all ended by catching the final show, episode, or prog in this case. For those who missed Rogue’s inception in 1981 through to his finally catching the bastard general in 1985 (that period when it felt like the only thing coming out of 2000AD was future war), then Rogue Trooper: Tales of Nu-Earth 01 and 02 are for you. But to see the end of the legendary future civil war of Nort versus Souther on the chemically poisoned battleground of Nu-Earth, then it’s this volume you need.
With his constantly off-panel nemesis out of the picture, Rogue gets a bit of a 400-page extended tour of duty. Series creator Gerry Finley-Day finishes what he started by parachuting Rogue off-world onto the planet Horst where the Nort/Souther struggle is replayed with bat-like aliens versus ant men. When this series of land-water-air missions run out of steam, so too does the galactic war and the leaders of both sides finally get around to signing a peace treaty. Then a few aliens teleport in and shoot everyone, starting a new war where everyone is unified against a new threat. The end.
You can practically feel the collective shrug from the 2000AD editorial pit when they were discussing should Rogue Trooper get a happy or a bad ending. He got an ending, that should have been enough. Then it wasn’t enough, and Rogue got a new ropey start by becoming a hitman for the aliens who killed the peace talks, tasked with being an “angel of death” who can stop all future war by shooting 13 select people. Talk about shoehorning in another formula of saga-length proportions to keep giving ol’ Rogue and dead buddies Gunnar, Helm and Bagman an excuse to shoot something.
The whole hitman premise was tripe (Rogue himself seems to agree, not believing his new alien masters to begin with, then believing them, and then not believing them again). The only good thing that came out of it was seeing artist Steve Dillon shape his square-jaw style of sharp drawing on a classic character for many progs – even taking a stab at the writing chores when the hitman angle was laid to rest by skipping to the end after four hits.
Padding out the end of this door stopper tome are a few fill-in specials from Finley-Day and, quite pleasingly, from Peter Milligan, who lends a little of his future war poetic licence from his Bad Company work. A strange Grant Morrison one-off on female protagonist Venus Bluegenes is bundled in, along with some of the cool Diceman choose-a-path and roll-a-dice adventures written in slavish detail by Pat Mills (like the ones tucked at the back of the third volume of Nemesis the Warlock).
This strange, new direction away from the ‘Nam/Civil War beginnings of everyone’s favourite blue-skinned GI is perhaps a scab best left unpicked on an otherwise unblemished war record. But for those who need to see how the Nu-Earth was won, scars and all, then dive in and keep your mohawked head down beneath a few stray shots from the Rogue Trooper.