Although set in Gerry Finlay-Day’s Rogue Trooper universe, Jaegir is a behind-the-lines war story that could be transplanted to almost any setting, and you don’t really need much of a grounding in the 2000AD comic strip it’s spun-out from to enjoy it. However, Rogue Trooper fans will undoubtedly get a kick out of the book, which manages to humanise the generic, Nazi-like Norts that Rogue spent most of his time fighting.
Jaegir is a young captain in the Nordland State Security Police – an internal investigations unit that has the somewhat thankless task of seeking out corruption and military crime in a corrupt and crime-ridden military. They also have the even less savoury task of hunting down victims of the Nort’s genetic experiments, which turn regular infantrymen into hulking berserkers, the trouble being that they then go mad and try and hunt down their own families to attempt genetic suicide. Jaegir herself is the daughter of a spectacularly evil man who was involved in nurturing the war between Norts and Southers, so she has her own genetic cross to bear, and the plot often flashes back to her childhood or her own actions in the war to help flesh out the story.
There are three stories in this collection, which see Jaegir and her elite squad tackle a handful of dangerous investigations, tracking down the genetic horrors and corrupt soldiers (sometimes whole divisions), who are themselves the product of a rotten system.
Simon Coleby’s art is dark and raw, but beautifully appropriate for the horror-strewn scenery the characters inhabit. Even Jaegir herself is facially disfigured by past action, tilting her head into the shadows and hiding her mental and physical scar tissue. Writer Gordon Rennie has fleshed-out a fascinating female lead here, creating a woman with immense strength of character but still managing a jagged edge of vulnerability that makes her all the more human. It’s an extraordinary feat of characterisation but the stories don’t quite live up to the power of the characters that inhabit them.