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Graphic Novel Twofer: Royden Lepp – Rust, Vol. 3 / Brian K. Vaughan – Ex Machina, Vol. 2

August 15, 2014

64. Rust, Vol. 3: Death of the Rocket Boy by Royden Lepp (2014)
Rust, Volume 3

Read my review of volume:
1. Visitor in the Field
2. Secrets of the Cell

Length: 224 pages
Genre: Sci-Fi, Young Adult

Started/Finished: 02 August 2014

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Next one in the series.

Summary: Jet Jones saves Oswald from the robot that’s chasing him, but Oswald also learns Jet’s secret – that the rocket boy is really a machine himself. No one else in his family believes him, though; sure, Jet’s a little odd, and he’s clearly running from something more than the war, but he’s been such a help around the Taylor’s failing farm that they’re hard pressed to let him go. But Jet has a choice to make – he’s sick, and the oil cells he scavenges are no longer working to power him. Going back would mean facing his terrible power and history, but staying may be putting the Taylors in more danger.

This volume also contains a reprint of the Free Comic Book Day story “Chores”, which helps build the relationship between Jet and the two young girls, Amy and Ava, that comes up again in the main book.

Review: Aaaahh, this series is so good. I mean, where else can you get killer robots PLUS all the emotional pathos you can handle? (Well, besides Battlestar Galactica. But where else can you get new episodes about killer robots plus emotional pathos?) This volume, like the ones before it, is this wonderful mix of action and story and heartache, all wrapped up in lovely sepia artwork. My heart broke for just about every character in this book, Jet and Oswald and Roman and Jessie and Ava and even Jet’s creator/father, who was initially set up as a bad guy but now is shading more wonderfully gray. The text is fairly sparse, but what there is is wonderful. The lines “When is it time to call it quits? Failure seems like such a slow process.” set over images of the Taylors working – together – at their failing farm… well, that’s already pretty powerful, and then when you consider the fact that those words are in a letter that Roman will never send to his father who is most likely dead… That breaks the heart, in a quiet and wonderful way. And the thing is, the whole book (the whole series, really, but this book in particular) is full of bits like that. And killer robots and jet packs. Good stuff. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Everyone? I suppose I should be more specific. People who like their steampunk gritty, broken down, with a hint of dustbowl flavor, and with some amazingly compelling characters should definitely pick this up. But honestly, this is the kind of series that I want to push on people. I’ll stick with “Everyone.”

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

66. Ex Machina, Vol. 2: Tag by Brian K. Vaughan (2005)
Ex Machina, Volume 2

Read my review of volume:
1. The First Hundred Days

Length: 128 pages
Genre: Science Fiction

Started/Finished: 08 August 2014

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Next one in the series.

Summary: In Vol. 2, we learn a little bit more about the artifact with the strange symbol that is the last remnant of the explosion that left Mitchell Hundred, now mayor of NYC, able to control machines with his voice. An artifact that’s coveted by many agencies, both within our government and outside it. And now the symbol is showing up as graffiti around the city, always at the site of violent, deranged, and bizarre crimes. And that’s not the only thing Mayor Hundred has to worry about… he’s also working on forcing the state government’s hand when it comes to gay marriage.

Review: This is a story that is very rooted in its time – September 11th plays a large role in the backstory, and even without the dates labeling each scene, politics in 2002 were not what they are today. (Although I wonder what this would have been like reading back when it was published, well before the gay marriage movement had begun to gain much traction in New York or anywhere else.) Even though it’s very rooted in its time, though, I still sometimes had a hard time keeping the timeline straight – I get the point of the flashbacks, and it’s okay within a single story arc/paperback volume where I can flip back and look at the dates, but I can’t remember which flashbacks happened before/after the others across the volumes – e.g. it’s clear that he had a run in with a particular government agency after he got his superpowers but before he became mayor, but was it before or after that other conversation with his friend? But the series is definitely still interesting, and hopefully the bits of the timeline that matter will become more clear as I go along. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I am not usually interested in mixing politics into my fiction, but in Vaughan’s hands (and with the added superhero angle), it’s pretty compelling. Don’t start on Vol. 2, but the series is an interesting and mature take on what might happen to someone with superpowers in the real world.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Can’t find any. Have you reviewed either of these books? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

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