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Comic Book / Rogue Trooper

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Rogue Trooper is an ongoing science-fiction strip created by Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons in the British comic 2000 AD and first published in 1981.

Against a backdrop of a future war between two factions, the noble Southers and evil Norts, the comic follows Rogue, a G.I. (Genetic Infantryman), and his three comrades' search for the Traitor General, a man in the Souther high command who sold the Southers' battle plans to the Norts, which led to the massacre of all the GIs except Rogue. His comrades are in the form of biochips (onto which a G.I.'s entire personality is downloaded at the time of death for later retrieval) and are named Gunnar (mounted on Rogue's rifle), Bagman (on his backpack) and Helm (on his helmet).

After about three years, Rogue finally found and killed the Traitor General. He was again inducted into the Souther army, but then (without a major goal), the comic floundered and ultimately sputtered out.

Gibbons returned to the strip in 1990, this time as a writer. He completely rebooted the series with a new character, new war, and new planet. The biochips were done away with, since Gibbons wanted the new protagonist—Friday—to have a more spiritual connection with his comrades. However, the story was basically the same: all but one of the GIs are wiped out in a massacre, and the one survivor goes rogue and treks back to the high command to find out what happened.

Gibbons' run was short but well acclaimed. It was pretty self-contained, though left the door open for future stories. After his run ended, Michael Fleisher picked it up and had a new set of adventures as Friday wandered Nu Earth trying to do justice where he could. This run reintroduced the biochips, which—to Gibbons' chagrin—turned out to be the most popular aspect of the Rogue continuity.

Steve White took up the writing after Fleisher, and in order to regain interest, he had Friday team up with Rogue, who now existed in the same universe. This move was not well received due to continuity issues and some rather controversial plot points.

The series was supposedly ended for good in 1996, though there was the odd spinoff or two. In 2002, popular writer Gordon Rennie revisited the Rogue continuity with a new series of stories set during the hunt for the Traitor General. This series was well received, and Rennie attempted to reboot the continuity for a second time, but his editors blocked him. He has said he would like to write more stories in the Rogue Trooper universe, but these would focus on side characters and what's going on elsewhere on Nu Earth. Rennie would later create The 86ers, based in the same universe, but in a different star system, and Jaegir, focusing on the Norts.

Most recently, the comic was adapted into a video game by Rebellion Developments, who currently also publish 2000 AD and have the rights to most of its characters. Rogue Trooper: Quartz Zone Massacre was released on the PS2, Xbox 360, and PC in 2006, and again on the Wii in 2009. Though it features the characters and premise of the Rogue continuity, the story is very different, and much of the technology has been altered to make the game play "more fun."

An animated movie is in production, with Duncan Jones set to direct.

Tropes associated with this work:

  • Abnormal Ammo: In the Rogue continuity, the weapons are described as being "las" based, but they are depicted as ejecting casing like projectile weapons. A close-up of a cartridge reveals that the bullets have lenses, which is somewhat similar to older descriptions of the Imperial Guardsmen las-gun.
    • "Sammies", which are essentially surface-to-air rifle grenades.
  • Action Girl: All of the GI "Dolls" were engineered to be this; their original function was as assassins, saboteurs and commandos, but they were reassigned to non-combatant positions at the last moment. Even in their ranks, Venus Bluegenes stands out. Though she can fall into Dark Action Girl due to her selfishness and willingness to kill anyone to preserve her own life, to say nothing of how she served the Traitor General as a bodyguard under her cover identity of Kobalt.
  • Alternate Continuity: The video game, up to a point. It follows the original Rogue continuity reasonably closely — a lot of the locations are there, though in a different order. It's the ending where the major difference occurs.
    • The Friday version was supposed to be this until the two continuities were merged.
  • Alternate Universe: A What If? strip: what if Gunnar had survived the Quartz Zone Massacre instead of Rogue? He uses Souther troops as decoys. They later kill him, Rogue and the rest of the team, leaving his skeleton in the sand.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Technically, Clavel is this to Friday, as Clavel used his own DNA as the base for the GI program.
  • Armchair Military: Milli-com, the southern high command, operate from a giant space station light-years from the war. Oddly for this trope, most of them seem to be combat veterans.
  • Awesome Backpack: Bagman in the Rogue continuity.
  • The Baroness: Kaptain Natashov.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: While the Norts are shown as Obviously Evil Commie Nazis, the Southers aren't a whole lot better. Some strips, such as "The Fanatics" and especially the Jaegir spinoff portray some Norts as either Punch Clock Villains or My Country, Right or Wrong.
  • Blood Knight: Gunnar loves to fight and kill.
  • Brain Uploading: The GI bio-chips. Mostly in the original, though not unseen in newer incarnations.
    • Gunnar himself managed to regain a new body, complete with Telekinesis, in one of the stories. Sadly, it turned out that Mill-Com had indoctrinated his mind into killing Rogue. Though he returned to a chip on the rifle with his new ability after being "killed" by a jammed gun.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The crossover between the original Rogue and Friday.
    • And probably most of Friday's adventures, barring The War Machine.
  • Canon Immigrant: Helm's hacking abilities were first seen in the game, but he uses them in comics published later.
  • Canon Welding:
    • A rather infamous example is the crossing over of both continuities into the one universe with the explanation that there were two Nu-Earths. It all got rather messy.
    • The Friday continuity crossed over into Judge Dredd by means of Time Travel. This one might be still canon, at least in the Judge Dredd universe, Dredd encounters a Flawed Prototype GI on New Sidona.
  • Clone Army: The Genetic Infantry were an entire regiment of modified clones bred to survive in the harsh environment of Nu Earth without hazmat suits.
  • Commie Nazis: The Norts, being based on Those Wacky Nazis and Cold War era Russia, are a classic example. Their speech is even peppered with both Russian and German-sounding exclamations.
  • Continuity Reboot: The return of Gibbons in 1989 created this; fittingly, as Rogue's story had run to completion by that point.
    • Gordon Rennie's run is this to a certain extent, though this time set during the classic era.
  • Cool Tank: The tanks are equally cool and terrifying.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: A particularly bad one is the main villain in the Friday continuity.
  • Crapsack World: While the toxic and war-torn nature of Nu-Earth has been the main part of Rogue Trooper comics, the situation outside of the planet isn't rosy either in the spin-offs. Both the Norts and Southers have large numbers of unemployed veterans—many of whom suffered ill-health from long-term exposure to Nu Earth's toxic atmosphere—which the former's counterpart turned to crime for survival after their military discharge in the comic "Jaegir". Furthermore, it is hinted that many planets on the frontlines suffered just as bad as Nu-Earth. Despite their status as "good guys", the Southers also lean towards authoritarianism, which many citizens with anti-establishment views were "volunteered" for military and Genetic Infantry experiments before Rogue and others were made.
  • Dangerous Deserter: Rogue deserts from the Souther army in order track down the Traitor General. During his exploits, he builds up a reputation as The Dreaded among both sides, although he will side with Southers if he wanders into any battles, often turning the tide in their favour.
  • Dating Catwoman: Rogue and Venus Bluejeans are very much attracted to each other; Venus' feelings only deepened after she believed he had saved her from an attempted rape by one of her human superiors. She even arranged for Rogue to receive extra protection gear prior to the Quartz Zone Massacre, which was integral to Rogue's survival. However, Venus' darker side repels Rogue, and prevents them from being together.
  • Death World: Nu Earth. Very much Nu Earth. The atmosphere is unbreathable for any normal human and anything that can survive in its toxic atmosphere is a dangerous predator.
  • Determinator: Rogue travels all over Nu Earth hunting down the Traitor General and will not let an entire world at war get in his way.
  • Distant Finale: Mercy Heights had a character who resembled Rogue named Tor Cyan. "Remembrance Day" told an edited version of the Quartz Zone Massacre, which tied both strips together. Cyan is shown to be watching the footage and leaves Rogue's battered biochip at a memorial site on Nu Earth, which has had its environment restored to inhabitable and is now abloom with the same blue flowers that Rogue finds. Whether this is still canon is unknown.
  • The Dreaded: Rogue amongst the Norts. "Blue-skinned devil" is a common nickname for him. As he travels around Nu Earth, killing Norts and helping Southers, his reputation increases. Some Norts have nightmares about him.
  • Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: It's readily apparent who's on what side.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Rogue, Helm and Bagman are all killed off during Friday's run. 8-Ball goes as well and Gunnar replaces him in Friday's rifle.
  • Earth All Along: The planet in The War Machine, Friday's debut story, turns out to be Earth.
  • Elite Mooks: Most notably the Kashan Legion. Hard, ruthless bastards who all but annihilated the G.I. Regiment. Granted, they had some help, but that's still pretty Badass Normal.
  • Enemy Mine: Rogue is recruited by a group of Nort generals to assassinate their War Marshal to try and prevent an offensive that will wipe out everyone on Nu Earth. He succeeds, but Arkhan betrays and kills the generals, becoming War Marshal himself.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Office of Public Truth in Jaegir comic operated on this principle. The story included Three Nord officials: the first being responsible for destroying a ship with civilians on-board, the second who caused the death of many inhabitants to meet the planet's production quotas, and the third launching a disastrous assault on entrenched position with recruits. The first was assassinated by a sniper due to her illegal action resulted in retaliatory strikes on the civilian populace by Southers, the second was poisoned by a Chem Sister due to the aforementioned-production quotas being done for personal gains, and the third was dropped into a vat full of molten metal for his incompetence.
  • Fan of the Past: A dark version of this trope occurred in the Rogue Trooper story "Fort Neuro". Rogue arrived at the titular fort, hoping to find shelter and some time to let the biochips calm down. However, the stress of holding off a Nort siege for years coupled with isolation caused the four garrisons to degenerate into parodies of Napoleonic France, a 50s British seaside resort, a group of disco freaks, and wannabe supermodels. Rogue and the robots eventually managed to knock some sense into them.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The entire confrontation between the Southers and the Norts, which invokes elements of the British vs. Nazi Germany and/or the American Union vs. the American Confederacy, despite being set in deep space.
    • Southers tend to look down on the Genetic Infantrymen.
    • Norts look down on Sims as violent, savage and stupid... which, admittedly, is technically true, since they are human/ape hybrids engineered for high aggression and low intelligence.
    • The "Dolls", or female-model Genetic Infantrymen, get Fantastic Sexism to go alongside the same Fantastic Racism as their male counterparts. Despite having been engineered to fulfill stealth-based missions as scouts, assassins, saboteurs and commandos, the Dolls were all redirected into non-combatant rolls as glorified secretaries and nurses due to the sexism of Milli-Comp. They were also prohibited from engaging in relationships with their male GI counterparts, but despite this were subject to frequent sexual harassments from human superiors. Even their distinguishing identifier was the moniker "Dolls".
    • Venus Bluegenes, a Doll, expresses contempt for humans on several occassions.
  • The Federation: Southers seems to fit this mold as a counterpoint to Nort's The Empire, despite sharing the same authoritarian mentality as them.
  • Foil: Venus Bluegenes to Rogue. Whereas Rogue is fundamentally loyal to the Southern Cross Confederacy and goes out of his way to help Souther soldiers and civilians whenever he needs to, Venus is selfish and loyal only to herself, as well as regarding all humans with contempt, Souther and Nort alike.
  • Gaia's Lament: Nu Earth is an absolute ecological disaster with a toxic, unbreathable atmosphere. The GIs were basically created to survive in this environment. The Nu Earth in Friday's continuity is actually Earth itself.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The Norts. Justified in that the horribly toxic atmosphere of Nu Earth makes chem-suits essential for any normal human. The Southers are a downplayed example, as their faces are visible, but are still in chem-suits.
    • Jaegir explores this, showing that some Nort veterans of the fighting on Nu Earth have PTSD that leaves them unable to function without their gas masks, even back on their homeworld and after leaving the military. Therefore even some Nort civilians are now effectively Gas Mask Mooks.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Subverted. While the GIs are incredibly skilled and resilient soldiers (particularly Rogue), the GI program is implied to have been cancelled after the Quartz Zone Massacre.
  • Hopeless War: While never directly stated, it is suggested that the Southers are constantly losing to the numerically superior Norts, leading them to develop wonder weapons like the G.I.'s.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: In the Rogue continuity, Rogue encounters a interesting version of the trope, a super soldier prototype (a predecessor of himself) waiting out in the wilderness to die a death of old age, seeing it as dignified and declaring that "suicide ain't my style". Rogue subsequently holds off a Nort assault force in order to give the old man his wish, the narrative stating openly that it's something he wants for himself one day.
    • Friday attempts suicide, but finds that he's been genetically programmed to be unable to do so.
  • Insert Grenade Here: A common way Rogue destroys Nort heavy tanks.
  • Klingon Promotion: Most Nort War Marshals.
  • Meaningful Name: Rogue got his name long before he went rogue as there was always something different about him compared to other GIs. Friday's came from the fact that he was cloned on a Friday (More specifically, he was a "Friday job", where less attention was put into it, due to the impending weekend) and had a flaw in him, leaving him less brainwashed. And, of course, Colonel Kovert.
    • The three comrades Rogue saves in biochip form are named Helm, Bagman and Gunnar. His equipment has slots for biochips on the helmet, backpack and rifle. Guess who goes where?
  • The Mole: Sister Sledge.
  • Mook Horror Show: Jaegir shows an encounter between Rogue and some Norts from the Norts' point of view. Rogue is terrifying.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Norts from the original continuity.
  • The Neidermeyer: Major Magnam.
  • One-Man Army: Rogue was created to kill Norts and that's what he does, even after he goes Rogue. He fights to find the truth behind the Traitor General, not caring who or how many he has to kill to do it.
  • Recycled In Space: The American Civil War with the Southers as the Confederate and the Norts as the Union.
    • To add to this there is reference to "Nu Georgia" and the "Battle of Mek-bull Run". A large area in the south is named Dix-I.
    • There's elements of World War 2 in it too, with the Norts being very Nazi-esque and the Southers based on the Allies. The acronym for Genetic Infantry is no coincidence.
    • There's even a couple of allusions to World War 1 with the Death World setting being reminiscent of No Man's Land. The story from Prog 2000 has Rogue find a blue flower that is an obvious standin for the Poppy, with Nu Earth blooming with them in the Distant Finale.
  • Smart Gun: What Gunnar became due to his biochip being inserted into a rifle. Antagonist Major Magnam is a GI officer whose biochip was inserted into his pistol.
  • Sole Survivor: Rogue and Friday were both this in their respective battles (as was the old soldier waiting to die whom Rogue encountered).
    • Venus Bluegenes made herself this in the Caliban Island incident; though she was one of several Souther troops who survived crashing on the island, she killed the human survivors to keep all the rations for herself.
  • Spinoff: A couple, notably Venus Bluegenes, which follows the female GI of the same name, and Mercy Heights, which includes a GI ambulance driver.
    • More recently, The 86ers focused on a squadron of pilots based in the Acoma system.
    • Jaegir focuses on the Norts.
    • Then there's Hunted with The Traitor General as a Villain Protagonist. Rogue and Atalia Jaegir make appearances as well.
  • Super-Soldier: Both the Southers and the Norts turned to genetic engineering of improved soldiers once Nu-Earth became too toxic for humans to inhabit.
    • The Genetic Infantrymen themselves are physically superior to baseline humans, completely impervious to all but the worst toxic hazards of Nu-Earth, and can use Brain Uploading to cheat death by downloading their minds into bio-chips upon their death; these chips can then be used to upload their mind into a new clone body, or installed into a cybernetic device to provide augmented abilities.
    • Zigzagged with Blue Mooners, which were a failed prototype for the Genetic Infantrymen and turned out basically a species of blue dwarves. They're used as cheap labor instead, as whilst not as tough or strong as their successor models, they're still stronger and hardier than humans.
    • The Norts countered with the Sims — human/ape hybrids that turned out to be too vicious and primitive to use; the Strigoi — a race of vampire-like mutants prone to deformities, sadism and an uncontrollable bloodlust; and the Waldos — cheap, quick-produced limbless human clones which are cybernetically integrated into robotic exoskeletons called "Stalkers".
    • The beastmen of Horst, an alien planet seen in The 86ers, are speculated to have originated as this.
    • Rogue meets a proto-G.I. in one story, who has survived to old age on Nu-Earth and is waiting to die of natural causes. Unlike the G.I.s, he was a normal human who was genetically modified to survive the harsh conditions of Nu-Earth. His unit wasn't given the training that Rogue and his clone brothers were, instead being conscripts who were just dropped into combat to test the genetic modification.
  • Super Supremacist: Venus Bluegenes invokes this in part 5 of the "From Hell to Eternity" storyline in Prog #339 as justification for why she killed the humans who survived crashlanding on Caliban Island to hoard the rations and preserve her own life: as a Super-Soldier, she is inherently more valuable to the war effort than a bunch of humans, especially seeing that humans can't even survive on Nu-Earth without cumbersome and fragile life-support suits. It's left to the reader to decide if she genuinely believes that, or if it was just a convenient excuse to vent her hatred for humans after a lifetime of prejudice, disrespect and borderline abuse, including an attempted rape.
    Venus Bluegenes: "They were weak, Rogue... weak! I was the only G.I. on board and there were only enough emergency rations to support one person. But the others wanted to share the rations. So I killed them and dumped their bodies in the lagoon. Don't you see, Rogue? We G.I.s are the future. We're ultra-humes. It was only logical that I should be the one to live."
  • State Sec: The Souther Secret Service, more commonly known as S3. They wear grey uniforms with no rank or insignia. Their initials are not coincidental.
  • Suicide Attack: A Christmas 2010 special had a Nort plot to destroy the Souther's military command with a clone of Rogue which explodes after it is killed.
  • Tank Goodness: The Blackmare Tank. Its main turret is bigger than most whole normal tanks.
  • Those Wacky Norts: Many of them had mustache-twirling evil personality compared to more professional-looking Southers. They were more nuanced in Jaegirs and 86ers though.
  • Un-Reboot: When Rogue Trooper was rebooted in 1990, he was replaced with a Suspiciously Similar Substitute named Friday, who survived a similar massacre of his fellow G.I.s. Things got really messy when both continuities were merged, which eventually led to the original Rogue being killed off. After Friday's story was finally concluded and the entire Tor Cyan solo stories that emerged from Spin-Off Mercy Heights were done, Gordon Rennie began penning new stories set during the original Rogue's hunt for the Traitor General.
  • The Unreveal: It is never identified which of the four Souther Generals was the Traitor due to massive facial disfigurement.
    • Although it's a bit of a moot point, since the three innocent generals are all killed when the Traitor sabotages the satellite they were on. His escape doesn't go as smoothly as planned, leading to the aforementioned disfigurement.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: Friday is forced to face off against a Mark III GI in a swordfight by Clavel. The Mark III is stronger, faster, and tougher than Friday, but Friday's experience plus a ploy where he appears to submit puts him on top.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: In the Friday continuity, Gunnar is flanderised from a Blood Knight down to what would be Dumb Muscle if he had a body.
  • Walking Nu Earth: Rogue is wandering around the war-torn Nu Earth in an effort to discover the Traitor General and occasionally stops to help Souther troops.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: All GIs, as they aren't given shirts before going into combat.
  • War for Fun and Profit: In the Friday continuity, the Clavel Corporation has apparently been manipulating the entire war on Nu Earth in order to profit from the war economy.
  • War Is Hell - Nu Earth, upon which Rogue's story takes place, is described in canon as "the ultimate monument to war".
  • We Have Reserves: Both sides employ this trope to various levels. The Souther Milli-com will order troops to continue suicidal attacks, while Nort battle commanders will have their men charge enemy positions. In "Realpolitik", the Nort generals note that while War Marshall Zell's strategy of all out assault on Nu Earth will succeed, this victory will come at the cost of draining resources from other war theatres.