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Old 02-12-2015, 03:01 PM   #1
JLM
Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?
 
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The Rusty Reviews

Back to post a couple of reviews of a great series!

Rust; Volumes One and Two
Written and drawn by Royden Lepp
Published by Archaia

Farming can be pretty tough work. When a small boy wearing a jet pack crashes through your barn, it’s probably not going to get any easier. And when that boy is being chased by some marauding robot the size of a house, determined to turn everything in its way into splinters, you shouldn’t have got out of bed that day.

Roman Taylor failed to heed that advice, and that’s how we first meet Jet Jones in part one of Royden Lepp’s Rust series, Visitor in the Field. It’s a world that is wonderfully anachronistic; a lot of robots, but the technology is almost Victorian, full of oily, clanky gears and programmed by cards punched with holes in. A war of nearly 50 years ago was resolved by hundreds of these metal critters, but the human soldiers look like they were fighting Nazis in WW2. It’s a set up that keeps you on edge, as you know it’s not quite our world.

The series kicks into gear (pardon the pun) with a breathlessly executed sequence spanning some 60 pages of the book. With quite a lot of this wordless, and devoid of the usual comic “kapow” style effects, the art tells the story. The oily belches of the robot, bright flare of Jet’s, erm, jet, dizzying speed blurs and dust from the dry ground all combine with brilliantly executed panels give rise to a riveting fight with the two underdogs seemingly hopeless outmatched.
Once the fight’s over we get a chance to catch our breath, and explore the farmland set up and characters, and there are quite a few to get to grips with, Roman runs the farm, but seems obsessed with writing letters to his absent dad and fixing up old robots to help on the farm; his younger brother Oz is suspicious of Jet, but can’t get his brother to acknowledge his concerns, and there is something very different about Jet. For good measure, there’s an attractive girl next door and her grandfather who knows more than he lets on. Plenty of character to get stuck into, before danger creeps back in, and we are into book two.

Secrets of the Cell, teases us with a bit more insight into what is going on, before more robot and jet flight action. The action ramps up in book 2, with a breath-taking chase between Jet and a flying robot alongside a powering locomotive (I’m not spoiling anything; there’s a picture of this on the front cover). Jet and his pursuer power alongside and in some cases, through the speeding train in a quite alarming fashion.
The writing nicely balances high action with quiet character moments doing everyday things; a family meal, chatting with the girl you like, some suspicious behaviour, and the best dishwashing scene I have read in comics. There’s a lovely sense of nostalgia through the books, the last days of summer, the oddly backwards technology, Roman’s letters to his absent father, and the sepia tint to the colours which tinges things with a bit of sadness too.

The art is dynamic, and with dialogue and sound effects absent for many pages, strongly carries the story, whether it’s the speed of jet flight, the bone jarring crunch of a bad landing, the power of a machine, or a glance of regret or mistrust. Words would probably only just get in the way.

We are only halfway through the story, with two planned volumes still to go, but I would highly recommend picking this up now. Packing great art, action, mystery, character and jet packs, what’s not to like?
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Old 02-12-2015, 03:02 PM   #2
JLM
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Book 3 Review

Rust; Volume Three - Death of the Rocket Boy
Written and drawn by Royden Lepp
Published by Archaia


I am not one for High Fidelity style top ten lists of “best this” and “favourite that”. If I were, and forced to pick a favourite comic series top 10, I am pretty certain that the Rust by Royden Lepp would make such a list. And the story’s not finished yet. It’s that good.

I’ve enthused about parts one and two of the series of in an earlier review, and I won’t restate those views here, but book three, published mid-2014, is a turning point of the series.

To quickly recap, struggling farmer Roman Taylor has a chance encounter with mysterious rocket boy Jet Jones. Jet has a pair of googles he never removes and is clearly on the run from his past, and a mysterious man with a beard and glasses (who always reminds me of Mark “E” Everett, lead singer/songwriter from the band Eels). The world of Rust is oddly out of kilter with our reality, with familiar farms, but unfamiliar, ubiquitous, mechanical robots.

The action picks up moments after book two ends (after a lengthy flashback to Jet’s past) to Jet still having to take on a seemingly unstoppable foe. It is another brilliant executed “fight and flight” sequence, that it think can safely be described as a trademark of the series by now. Again, breathlessly exciting and cunningly resolved.

The book then moves onto filling in more background. Read any interview with Royden Lepp, and it’s no secret the story spans four books, so this is the the point where details need filling in, before things wrap up.

Not that is a bad thing. Books one and two both shared about equal portions of action and dialogue. This time, things lean in favour of the talking. Not that it matters. At this point in the story, I found myself so invested in the characters, that their personal struggles are as dramatic as the physical combat; Oz’s ongoing deep mistrust of Jet, Roman and Jessie’s awkward relationship, Jet’s attempts to flee his past. By the end of the story these hurdles seem as insurmountable as a robot programmed to pull your head off.

Not to say the book is all talk; there’s a genuinely shocking farmyard incident, and as the forces of darkness muster towards the end, it seems Jet must make an impossible choice. The final volume, Soul in the Machine, is going to be a cracker.

What I continue to admire about this series is the beautiful combination of so many elements: dynamic art, but with a sense of melancholy thoughout; careful character and plotting; fantastic action, but without sound effects or thought bubbles; a willingness to engage with issues such as loss of, or need for, family. Yet none of this is at the expense of making the story Dark Knight Returns “dark”, which it could so easily have been. Oh, and kick-ass robots. And jet packs.

Book 3 also comes with the sweet-yet-sinister 2013 FCBD story reprinted. As ever, the book itself is brilliantly presented in a colourful hardcover. The cover of this volume sums up the feel of the whole series in one quiet, reflective, image.

Put this book into your top 10!
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