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Royden Lepp – Rust, Vol. 1 & 2

July 3, 2014

52 & 53. Rust, Volume 1: Visitor in the Field and Rust, Volume 2: Secrets of the Cell by Royden Lepp (2011, 2012)
Rust, Volumes 1 & 2

Length: 192 & 200 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Started/Finished: 24 & 25 June 2014

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I was impressed by the Rust short story (“Oswald’s Letter”) from the Free Comic Book Day volume and wanted more.

I’ll take the jetpack
without the trouble past or
the chasing robots.

Summary: Roman Taylor’s father is away at war, so it falls to him to keep his family’s farm running for his mother, brother, and sister. He’s not alone, though: Jet Jones, a mysterious boy with a rocket pack and flying goggles he never takes off crash-landed on the farm, and he’s been helping out. No one knows how long Jet is planning on staying, though, so Roman spends most of his time tinkering with old robots, castoffs from the early days of the war, to help around the farm once Jet leaves.

In Volume 2, in the wake of an averted robot attack on the Taylor’s farm, Oswald starts getting suspicious of the strange rocket boy. As he starts to learn a little bit more about who Jet is, and the secret’s he’s keeping, it becomes clear that there’s even more he doesn’t know. How much can they trust this strange boy from the war, really? And will they want to be in the middle when other strangers come looking for him?

Review: Rust is really good, maybe even better than I expected. It’s kind of an amalgam of World War I/dustbowl Western/steampunk, with a hefty dose of family drama. A lot of the story is told through the pictures, both in the action sequences (scenes from the war, or Jet fighting off the robots that are coming after him) as well as in the heart of the story. The text is relatively minimal throughout – mostly Roman’s letters to his father, although some dialogue as well – but there’s a definite kind of quietness to this book (which is weird, because: giant fighting robots). But none of the characters are particularly talkative – they’re laconic, reserved, shy, secretive, whatever – so a lot of the the characterization, as well as many of the most powerful moments of the story (like Jet fixing the sink in Volume 1) happen in their faces or their actions. The artwork also certainly contributes to the quiet feeling of the story. It’s all done in a subdued palette of sepias, appropriate for the dustbowl setting while also building the mood. Lepp also has a way of using a blurring effect in his drawings – for movement, yes, but also rain, fire, close focus, etc. – that I’ve never seen done before in comics, and is really visually striking. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: It reminds me a little bit of Daisy Kutter: The Last Train, although that’s probably the Western-cum-steampunk vibe more than the story itself. But if that sort of thing appeals to you at all, Rust is well worth tracking down.

Volume 1: This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon
Volume 2: This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Puss Reboots
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

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