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2000 AD's Rogue Trooper Scorches the Nu-Earth

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"In taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior."  - Sir Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626)

Nu-Earth, a planet ravaged by war, its atmosphere poisoned by chemical weapons. In this battle ground between the Norts and The Southers only the Genetic Infantrymen can survive. Rogue is the last of these soldiers, his squad betrayed by a Souther general, he haunts the wastelands of Nu-Earth for revenge ... The hunt is still on in this second volume featuring the tour of duty of the last Genetic Infantryman and his bio-chipped buddies. While volume 01 (reviewed right here) concerned itself more with laying the groundwork and setting the boundaries, volume 02 - in between the action pieces - delves a bit more into the motivations and backgrounds of the supporting characters, culminating in the showdown between Rogue and the Souther traitor general. 

Make no mistake though, Rogue Trooper Tales of Nu-Earth Vol. 02 is no comic for your girlfriend - this is straight-up no holds barred action with a hardcore hero-with-a-heart at its futuristic centre. Expect no grand character arcs, no philosophical meanderings about the nature of war and the capability for atrocity mankind inflicts upon one another. In fact even the war between the Norts and the Southers is left unexplained, functioning purely as a backdrop for Rogue's quest for revenge. Having said that, it sure is exciting future warfare because in every tale, Gerry Finley-Day manages to put at least an idea or the germination of a funky thought that makes your inner 16-year old go 'F*ck Yeah!' 

How many tales can you come up with having your hero traverse barren wastelands ad infinitum? But along the way, writer Gerry Finley-Day manages to keep it going in style! He introduces Venus Bluegenes, a female G.I. stranded on Nu-Earth, mining fields Nu-Earth style, troops suffering from battle fatigue, the role of the media in The Vid Vultures, The Gasbah which deals with a kasbah-style city where aliens are ghettoized and illegal dealings take place; all this coupled with various Nort plots to destroy the Southers and the everlasting search for the traitor.

In a nice twist though, the traitor general has become obsessed with eradicating Rogue Trooper from the face of Nu-Earth, blaming him for the downward spiral his life has taken since he has become a hunted man. He decides to become the hunter himself, leading to the return of body looters Brass and Band who form an alliance born in greed and vengeance in Eye of the Traitor.

Another twist arrives at the re-gening of Rogue's buddy bio-chip Gunnar, leading Rogue Trooper through Nu-Earth on the way to the Souther command office but, of course, things are not what they seem. Is Gunnar, always the more hotheaded among the G.I.s, to be trusted and what is his real purpose? Questions made all the more dangerous by Rogue's realisations that Gunnar's body has been re-gened with the latest improvements in the cloning field: Gunnar is faster, stronger, has more endurance and a mild form of telekinesis.

To the Ends of Nu Earth presents the culmination of the journey at the arctic circle of Nu Earth; the showdown between the traitor and Rogue. The traitor has finally gone off the deep end, plotting an elaborate plan just for the destruction of Rogue. Though it features a decent action story with an exciting manhunt in the frozen trenches of a ghoulish Souther station, all personnel murdered by the traitor, the climax itself feels a bit of a letdown. Rogue is torn between his moral code and vengeful execution leading to a deus ex machina ending which is always a copout but keeps the moral heart of the character straight. Cry me a river.

What is even stranger is that the series continues there ... Rogue is taken to Millicom headquarters in space and in a nice twist on the high-octane pace of both volumes, he finds himself lost, meandering the corridors of the satellite; wondering if he has become addicted to the act of violence, of 'being in action' himself. He becomes desperate to find a new goal in life but the one provided by Gerry Finley-Day feels like just another rehash of the basic premise of the traitor storyline that drove Rogue all those progs, even complete with another hostile planet for Rogue to roam. By that point, I just couldn't bring myself to care anymore.

Plotting and character motivations become shady (already being just a mere sketch in itself) and it is obvious that the character was just too popular to let it wane in limbo so they just inserted him in a similar scenario with a slightly changed mission; going even so far as have him run out on Millicom (the Souther forces) again! One wonders if Rogue just expects his superiors to give him an old pat on the back going 'Oh Rogue, you lovable old genetic bluey! We understand, forget about that execution order, again! You just can't help it!' I kept expecting a futuristic Monty Python member barging in at any time: 'Alright, stop it! Now it is just getting silly!'

Artwise, Rogue Trooper is still a solid hit, though. Gone is Colin Wilson though who was a steady fixture in volume 01. He is replaced by Boluda who uses a much more fluid brush with high contrast light/shadow work, emphasising the fluidal nature of the Nu-Earth environment, chemical clouds swirling wherever the eye can see, armory and shapes hidden in the poisonous atmosphere.

For the majority of the volume Cam Kennedy is back in the saddle with his funky scratchy stylings providing more detail than his later projects. His style is perfectly suited for future warfare managing to make the suits and weaponry realistic and futuristic at the same time. Inkers are never mentioned so I always wonder whether or not the artists ink their work themselves - probably do most of the time -. Boluda and Brett Blevins are pretty much the same all the time (which is a good thing, don't get me wrong) but Kennedy sometimes veers between a slightly more fluid line than we are used to seeing from him.

The volume also features a nice extra which I haven't seen before in the 2000 AD volumes. Drawn by Dave Gibbons, it shows the original sketches of the Rogue Trooper and his world and an outline of how Rogue Trooper originated, from a germ in the editor's mind 'We need a future warfare tale!' to choice of writer and artist. It's a very insightful and informative piece.

Rogue Trooper Tales of Nu-Earth Vol. 02 represents future warfare at its most devious, showing no mercy whatsoever. It is a pure action tale, driven by revenge and pure alpha man-hormones in the form of the Genetic Infantryman Rogue Trooper. While the conclusion left a lot to be desired, the poisonous roads of Nu-Earth traversed in getting there are more than worth it. 

Rogue Trooper Tales of Nu-Earth Vol. 02 by Gerry Finley-Day Cam Kennedy, Brett Blevins, Boluda and more is published by Titan Books/2000 AD. It is a 400 pages black and white trade paperback retailing for £ 15.99 and is available online and in finer bookstores and comic shops across the world. 

Check out the full preview on Broken Frontier right here 

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