Thursday, 30 October 2014

Rogue Trooper Classics #1 - IDW Publishing

Created by Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons back in 1981 for the British science fiction comic “2000 A.D.” the adventures of the Genetic Infantryman called Rogue have been repeatedly reprinted over the decades. As a result the decision by “IDW Publishing” to just recolour the old issues and simply republish them seems a rather controversial one for the American comic book publisher to have made. Although considering the company also decided to print a new "Rogue Trooper" title depicting fresh original adventures simultaneously perhaps makes it a more understandable choice. Regardless it is perhaps not unsurprising that what started out as a planned twelve-issue limited series was curtailed to only eight issues, following “lower-than-expected-sales.”

However there is still a lot to be gleaned from Issue One of “Rogue Trooper Classics”. It certainly isn't just a simple alternative source of these stories than Volume One of “Rebellion Developments” “Tales of Nu-Earth”. To begin with this edition has been published with two rather nice alternative covers, including a new illustration of the sole survivor of the Quartz Zone Massacre by artist John McCrea and colorist Andrew Elder. However the subscription cover, a colourful micro-version of Dave Gibbon’s cover art to Programme 228 of “2000 A.D.” is especially eye-catching and as such probably the better of the two when it comes to attracting potential collectors of the series.

Indeed it is probably the actual colouring of the old black and white comic strips which makes this periodical such a worthwhile purchase. Admittedly at times Adrian Salmon’s choice of colour tone is rather dark and heavy-handed, but it is great to see Gibbons’ excellent pencils resplendent in blues, reds, browns and greens. For once you can really see the swirling soup of Nu-Earth’s poisonous atmosphere and the seemingly perpetual claustrophobic inkiness which surrounds the action. In addition the sheer quality of the printing on thick paper really makes the illustrations ‘pop from the page’ and a joy to behold. 

Unfortunately the arrangement of each page is a major disappointment as a result of the original panels being quite significantly reduced in size in order to better fit within the smaller American comic book format. As the drawings have been proportionally de-scaled it essentially means that a quarter of every page is just blank space and although “IDW Publishing” have utilised much of it to display a greyed-out ‘Rogue Trooper Classics’ banner, it still distinctly gives an amateurish feel to the comic book’s composition.
The regular cover art of "ROGUE TROOPER CLASSICS" No. 1 by John McCrea and Andrew Elder

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