Originally serialized in 2000 AD, this repackaged one-shot for the U.S. audience might fly beneath the radar of those unfamiliar with Rogue Trooper, despite beautiful artwork and outstanding character development from Simon Coleby and Gordon Rennie.
One of the hallmarks of 2000 AD’s classic Rogue Trooper was a deceptively elegant cynicism that burbled softly beneath the surface of an otherwise over-the-top sci-fi war comic. Lacking the often absurd regimentation of Judge Dredd’s totalitarian existence, Rogue Trooper’s Nu Earth always felt a little more grounded and honest to me.
Gordon Rennie and Simon Coleby are often credited as two creators who helped to rejuvenate Rogue Trooper in recent years, taking him back to his roots and infusing the character’s near-future setting with some of the irony it had lost.
With their latest collaboration, Jaegir, the pair dives headlong behind enemy lines to chronicle Nu Earth’s neverending war from Nordland’s perspective.
In many ways, the eponymous protagonist is indeed the flipside of the Rogue Trooper equation. Like the blue-skinned Genetic Infantryman, Kapiten-Inspector Atalia Jaegir has been scarred by her life as a soldier and surrounds herself with a trio of colleagues from her war-torn past.
Although there are overt differences, such as gender and the fact that Jaegir’s companions are actually alive and not sentient biochips retrieved from her fallen comrades, both characters endure the harsh reality of war because it’s all they’ve ever known. If they no longer belief in the conflict, then at least they can attempt to balance the ledger, so to speak.
In Jaegir’s case, this initially means cleaning up the Nordland State Security Police’s political messes as discreetly as possible. When she accepts a new mission outside her normal purview, Jaegir becomes mired in a horrific secret that threatens her nation’s warrior caste and military and takes her on a journey into her own dark past.
As far as origin stories go, Jaegir is a tightly paced and layered introduction to Nu Earth from a less than typical point of view. Although a little wordy towards the beginning, Rennie ups the pace and the ante with revelations from his protagonist’s emotionally damaged past, allowing his audience more insight into her cool, physically scarred exterior.
The writer’s seemingly intuitive understanding of Nu Earth’s socio-political hierarchy translates into the confidence necessary to expand the property in new and unexpected directions. With Nordlanders typically depicted as “evil empire” types, Rennie presents readers with a sneak peek behind enemy lines and injects them with a much-needed dose of humanity.
Simon Coleby’s latest foray into Nu Earth also benefits from his prior visits to the strife-ridden fictional realm. Like Rennie, he has an innate understanding of the setting’s fictional mechanics, allowing him to add depth to his establishing shots and empathy to the book’s emotional beats.
Each panel is laden with detail and oozing in perfectly spotted blacks, reinforcing both the ever-increasing pace and the claustrophobic sense of imminent danger.
In spite of all of these positives, however, Jaegir might fly under the radar for the wider U.S. audience, which would be a damn shame. It should do pretty well in Canada, where we’ve had decent exposure to the myriad worlds of 2000 AD, but might get overlooked in the much larger market south of the 49th Parallel.
Gordon Rennie (W), Simon Coleby (A) • 2000 AD, $3.99, August 27, 2014