When news broke that Mongoose Publishing was preparing a 2000AD Rogue Trooper Miniatures Game Kickstarter, I decided it was about time to take a look at the Rogue Trooper comics. I remember reading a few of them ages ago, though I cannot say that I’ve been an avid reader or expert on the line. I remember enough good things about it, that vague nostalgia and the prospects for a Kickstarter made me plunge for the first of the massive Tales of Nu-Earth collected volumes.
#1 – The Rogue Trooper Collected Volume Format
The first thing to note is that £11.05 for the Tales of Nu-Earth got me a massive brick of paper. I was surprised how massive the amazon-package was that had this one delivered.
The book is also 400 pages thick, with a rather thick, coarse paper that gives it even more volume. I am not sure if there is an eBook version of this, but Tales of Nu-Earth was a rather big package to carry along on my commute to work. On the up-side, there is absolutely no doubt you are getting a lot of comic book goodness for your money.
#2 – Tales of Nu-Earth: Quality Stories in Black-&-White
Obviously, these are 30-year old comic strips, first published in the early 1980s. They are black-&-white, without any of the pristine, full-colour treatment you would expect from a modern-day (or from the last 10-or-so-years) comic from, say, Marvel comics.
The stories are also surprisingly short, though (especially towards the later stories), several often tie together into a larger story arc. The basic plot is search by Rogue, the G.I. (which stands for Genetic Infantryman) and his three disembodied (voice-only dog-tags) comrades’ for the Traitor General that is responsible for the massacre that made Rogue the sole survivor. The backdrop is the eternal war over Nu Earth between the ‘Norts’ and the ‘Southers’.
Some of the early stories feel a tad formulaic: Southers are in trouble, Rogue shows up and saves them. Than disappears again to continue his quest. Later however, the stories do get more creative, and more daring.
What stays constant is – IMO – that most are masterpieces of tight, concise and to-the-point storytelling. Reading one Rogue Trooper tale after the other, I was constantly amazed at how much story, action and – often – added remarks about the nature of warfare can be fit into these brief 4 to 6 page comic strips.
Even within the larger (i.e. up to 18 pages) story-arcs, the sub-chapters all have their own narrative. There are a few duds, but most of it is comic-book storytelling at its best.
#3 – Miniature Game Potential?
The comic book is great. The collected Tales of Nu-Earth are also a great format and a great deal. If you ever thought of picking up some 2000AD, I cannot recommend them enough.
The one thing on my mind reading this, naturally, was the upcoming Mongoose Rogue Trader Kickstarter. I struggle, perhaps more after reading the comic (again) than before, if this makes a compelling setting for a miniatures wargame.
True, there is constant war and all manners of exotic weaponry. Some of the background, such as the constant threat to anyone but Rogue to be killed by a breach of their “suits”, choking to death on Nu-Earth’s poisonous atmosphere, could also make for interesting mechanics.
On the other hand, neither Southers nor Norts are factions that have much “personality”. Nor are they supposed to. The story, though it is set in a constant war, is essentially the story of one man, one hero. Southers and Norts are often replaceable symbols for the absurdity and futility of war. Indeed, there’re constant jokes and quips throughout how nobody even knows how exactly the war started. It is not (for the reader) discernible why they fight (as opposed to Rogue‘s personal quest).
This makes Southers and Norts maybe the least-suited armies for a miniatures wargame. There is little (in the comic) for a player to identify with either side, be it as heroes or anti-heroes.
I am curious how Mongoose will get around this, trying to make the background-factions of Rogue Trooper, and not Rogue Trooper himself, attractive forces to collect for a miniatures wargame.
Have you read 2000AD Rogue Trooper? Are you looking forward to Mongoose’s Rogue Trooper Kickstarter?
If so, let me know what you think!