While war rages across the galaxy between the Great Nordland Republic and their Souther enemies, Kapiten-Inspector Atalia Jaegir of the Nordland State Security Police is charged with investigating and tracking down war criminals. Viewed with suspicion and hated by her own people, Jaegir is no stranger to conflict and betrayal…
Rebellion Publishing via 2000 AD
I’m not exactly sure who said it, but the statement that there is beauty in bleakness is one I stand by. That’s how I feel about this collection of stories from the pen of Gordon Rennie who takes the tone of Rogue Trooper, a 2000AD classic, and expands it to include a far more in depth look at world only briefly hinted at by that comic.
Giving us a view into the world of the Nordland army (thinly veiled Nazi analogues and traditionally the antagonists of Rogue Trooper) away from the battlefield through the eyes of Atalia Jaegir, charged with tracking down war criminals and bastard daughter of one of the men who helped create Nu Earth. Permeating the entire comic is a sense of hopelessness, of what a society would be like if it were embroiled in a war with no end that it felt it couldn’t win.
It’s a great credit to the work of Rennie and Simon Coleby that a world that would be hopelessly depressing if less deft hands were on it, instead becomes gripping whilst remaining those tragic tones. The characters themselves seek to do the best they can in a situation where there is no ‘good’ solution or ending, just opportunities to survive. The main action of most of the stories comes from a literal manifestation of the monstrous undercurrent of their society in the form of Strigoi, mutated soldiers who have succumbed to a genetic curse implanted in them by accident, by the finest Nordland minds trying to seek an end to the war.
It would be amiss if I didn’t mention Coleby’s art. It is breathtakingly beautiful, even as it conveys blasted landscapes that are terrible to behold. He peppers the futuristic world of the Nordland civilization with just enough recognisable modern features that it grounds everything, reinforcing the squalor and oppressive nature of everything. I hadn’t been keeping track of Coleby’s work of late, but based on the strength of this collection, I’ll be keeping an eye fastened on all his upcoming projects. He is truly the reason to buy this book, with the big name of Rennie being the draw that gets people to slap down cash and be astounded.
Such a clearly defined vision reminds of why I love 2000AD. It can bring new life to an idea people through played out years ago and make that idea so compelling. Another 2000AD comic Brass Sun was my favourite comic of 2014. On the strength of this collection, Jaegir may just be my favourite of 2015.
Cover image courtesy of Rebellion.
Jaegir: Beasts Within is available from 2000AD on pre-order.
Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are those of the individual reviewer.