If you’re not already familiar with this cult series, humbly self-styled as ‘the galaxy’s greatest comic’, you’ve got a lot to catch up on – the British weekly is now in its 41st year.
Strangely, despite the many Marvel and DC movies we’ve seen hit the cinema over the past few years (heck, this year alone), Hollywood has clearly been resistant to take on 2000 A.D. beyond breakout character, Judge Dredd (1995 and 2012). The reason is anyone’s guess, but it could be the rebellious undercurrent that runs through 2000 A.D., feeding its black humour, satirical anti-establishment vibe, and hyper-violence, that might make it more of a gamble when it comes to the box office.
Jones himself noted the sting as Marvel and DC release film after film. It makes the excitement of finally bringing the “seminal British spun war yarn” to the big screen all the more thrilling.
Here’s what you need to know about the star character ahead of the film release:
- Rogue Trooper first appeared in a 1981 2000 A.D. prog as a blue-skinned super soldier who can withstand atmospheres intolerable to humans. The character and storyline was devised by Gerry Finley-Day following a readers’ poll revealing war to be a popular topic.
- Rogue Trooper is a nameless genetically engineered super-soldier, or ‘Genetic Infantryman’, bred to fight in an endless war in a hellscape known as Nu-Earth. The planet has been ravaged by years of civil war and can no longer support human life. He’s engineered to be immune to almost all known toxins, diseases and acids, and can even withstand being exposed to a vacuum.
- The conflict depicted in Rogue Trooper has drawn elements from World War II, the American Civil War, and the Cold War. Norts (Northerner Unionists) sport Nazi-esque uniforms and speak a quasi-Slavic dialect. They’re up against the comparatively more civilized, though generally not as well equipped Southers (Southern Confederates).
- The protective suits of the Southers which allow their faces to be seen reinforce this ‘Good Guy’ representation, while Nort protective suits obscure most of their faces, showing only the eyes.
- Rogue Trooper earns his moniker from deserting his post in an effort to hunt down the Traitor General, who betrayed his company and is responsible for the deaths of the other G.I.s.
- He carries his comrades in the form of biochips. These contain a G.I.’s entire personality and retain their training to be retrieved when a G.I. is killed (since G.I.s are largely thought of as dispensable). Gunnar is mounted on Rogue’s rifle, Bagman on his backpack, and Helm on his helmet.
- Rogue Trooper’s story ran from ’81 to ’85, ultimately wrapping up following the showdown between Rogue and the Traitor General. The series was rebooted in 1989 in the story ‘The War Machine’, featuring a new version of the character called Friday. This version ran until 1996. The original Rogue returned in 1999 and all stories since then have featured the original version of the character.
- Impressed by his work on Watchmen, the 2000 A.D. editorial staff invited Dave Gibbons to redesign the Rogue Trooper character, giving birth of Friday. Gibbons welcomed the opportunity to add everything he wanted to the character and remove the “all the crap, like the biochips” (- his words). He focused on the politics and economics of the war, as well as the sinister nature of the genetic engineering.
- There was some confusion among readers as to whether Friday was actually the same as the original Rogue or a different character. Steve White was brought in to address this, with the two characters meeting in a later story and hashing out their respective pasts. This complicated explanation ended up causing more confusion than it cleared up for many readers.
- 2000 AD editorial have hinted that any return to the Rogue Trooper universe will center on the supporting cast, rather than the Rogue character. One example of this is the series, The 86ers, which stars Rafaelle Blue, a G.I. fighter pilot.