2000AD makes another foray into the US comics market with this one shot collection of the first Jaegir storyline by Gordon Rennie, Simon Coleby, Len O'Grady and Simon Bowland. I enjoyed the gothic horror aspects of this when it first ran in the weekly Prog, now here it is is a very glossy and stylish looking format.
First impressions are good, I like the cover image by Coleby and Pye Parr and it's printed on the same heavyweight paper stock that makes the Brass Sun reprints such a pleasure to hold. Inside the high quality paper and reproduction continue, Coleby and O'Grady's art and colours look lovely, and it's all story with just a couple of ad pages for other 2000AD stuff.
Re-reading the Strigoi storyline makes certain things a lot clearer. I hadn't realised that Atalia Jaegir's team were already with her at the start of the story, I had assumed they were assigned with her new mission. Knowing that they have been together for a while explains things such as her Sergeant's easy familiarity with her, and his penchant for telling bad jokes when they go into action. I had also completely missed noticing that it was the Nordland symbol that Atalia's father paints on her forehead with the dead bear's blood in one of her childhood flashback scenes.
It works well as a one and done story which hopefully will attract a few more new readers. However I was bothered by a couple of things which are pretty central to the whole concept. Firstly is the decision to base it in the Rogue Trooper universe. Obviously this makes sense for the 2000AD faithful who remember Rogue as one of the classic series from the golden age of the prog. It does seem to bring a lot of baggage with it though and includes references which may baffle new readers. The challenge for Gordon Rennie and his team will be to carry these new readers with them into new stories and expand the world beyond the horrors of Nu-Earth.
My other reservation with the setting is the use of the imagery of Nazi Germany. The cover may recall Stalinist Russia but the language, ranks and uniforms of the Nord army keep reminding us of the ultimate bad guys and it just seems like an easy shorthand for evil. Again this carries over from the original Rogue Trooper stories so Rennie and Coleby were limited to some extent by what had gone before. Perhaps it would have been better to come up with a completely new future war setting for this story and try something different. The parallels between the Nords and the Nazis seems a little tired because it's been done so many times in so many other stories.
Still a lovely one shot from Rebellion and I hope it does well for them. We rarely get to hear about the sales figures for these experiments so I presume the proof of the pudding will be if we get more of these glossy reprints. I'll buy them but I don't know if American comic readers will.