The eye-catching cover of the 2000 AD One-Shot Jaegir screams war. All soldiers and tanks and bold red, yellow and black colouring. Only the tagline gives this away as science fiction: From the war-ravaged world of Nu Earth…Monsters are born.

The action kicks right off on page one where we meet the narrator running across an urban wasteland on an industrial planet chasing a hulking figure. We’re in the middle of some battle that has been going on some time. So we’re introduced to Kapiten-Inspector Atalia Jaegir. Nordland State Security Police. Kapiten Jaegier exists in the same universe as the classic 2000 AD character, Rogue Trooper. This comic is part of a series of one-shots in the US format that 2000 AD are publishing.

“In the endless war between the Southers and the Norts, scarred war veteran Jaegir of the Nordland State Security Police hunts down escaped war criminals and roots out corruption; she’s an uncompromising and fearsome female character in a dark series that does not pull any punches.”

Once Jaegir is revealed, the plot of the comic soon follows. There is a genetic taint called Strigoi. Not only does it turn its victims into monsters, it has an unusual and fatal side-effect (although not fatal to the victim). Jaegir’s classmate and a good man from a military-caste family affected by Strigoi has a wife and children. It is up to Jaegir and her team to protect them. And to find her old friend, Grigoru.

Jaegir is written by Gordon Rennie (Department of Monsterology), drawn by Simon Coleby (The Royals), and is coloured by Len O’Grady (Judge Dredd Megazine). Rennie’s writing is very dense. There is so much back story and surrounding detail that it takes a while to absorb it all. There is a whole lot of exposition going on. The comic is also, therefore, very wordy. Most panels have an enormous (relatively speaking of course) amount of dialogue and/or narration.

The script itself is fine, and the story of Jaegir facing her former friend while living in this nightmare-ish war torn universe has an interest to it. There are several dimensions to the story and the characters. Kapiten Jaegir is a new character, but she feels like she’s been around a while. It’s cool to have new character in an old universe that’s not an obvious origin story.

Meanwhile, the art by Coleby and O’Grady is simply astounding. The depth and detail is phenomenal. The pages just go on and on with panel after a panel of soldiers and monsters and scenes of horror and war. The characters are drawn with a history. Look at Jaegir on page 7 and see the pain in her eyes. The later panels showing the progression of the Strigoi Taint that goes from an upright military man to a crazed monster is awesome.

The colours are generally as dark and dense as the plotting. Even the scenes at the castle towards the climax, which are outside on a sunny day, have a shadow hanging over them. It must have took days to create each individual page, there’s that much detail in them. There’s even room for a dingy forest and dinosaur-like monster in this story.

Which is part of the problem with this one-shot. It shouldn’t be a one-shot. Fine, so it’s 30 odd pages long (which include a couple of full-page adverts), but there is so much going on it could have and maybe should have been stretched over 3 or 4 issues. Take some of the pages that are chocked full of expositionary dialogue and do more showing rather than telling. I found the dialogue-heavy panels very distracting. You read a load of lines, look at the art, read a load more lines and look at the art and become frustrated as why the creators are trying to cram so much into such as short space.

I’m not sure what Jaegir is really about. Is it just a fantasy-future adventure set in worlds shattered by war, or is it proper science fiction concerning itself with foreign policy and genetic research? I wanted to enjoy the comic because the art is exceptional, but I found myself so bogged down in backstory and exposition I just wanted it to end.

Rating: 3/5 (4.5/5 for the art)
Reviewer: Ian J Simpson

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