Royden Lepp’s second volume of Rust is full of action, intrigue, and most important, heart. By the end of the book characters broken, bleeding, and possibly never going to recover…and that is just on the emotional level. There are physical wounds which also will take a long time to heal.
In this follow-up to the critically acclaimedRust Vol. 1: Visitor in the Field, the dysfunctional Taylor family continues to rebuild their farm lives after the devastating loss of a recent war, and the appearance of the mysterious jetpack-wearing boy, Jet Jones. Jet’s behavior continues to raise youngest brother Oswald’s suspicion, particularly when the appearance of another robot invader puts them all in danger!
Lepp’s artwork and storytelling create an easily accessible story which lulls the reader in with its simplicity. The art is heavily influenced by animation, with round faces and fluid lines for bodes, vast and open backgrounds, and intricately detailed machines full of parts which practically beg to be put in motion. It is no wonder that Rust was optioned for a movie deal before the first book even hit the shelves!
It is rare that a book is able to handle both extended action scenes and quiet, subtle character moments with equal skill. However Rust practically hums as the two pieces of the book work together in harmony. Rust is neither an action book, nor a character piece. Instead it, like Jet Jones, exists somewhere in between.
Kids will find Jet to be a thrilling character to look at and will immediately connect with the loneliness of the youngest Taylor, Oswald. Adults, however will be drawn to the deeper message within.
Jet Jones is the linchpin to the entire series. The pint-sized pilot, a mysterious figure in the first volume, is laid bare in this book becoming a tragic figure misunderstood by all and loved by none. His complex relationship with the Taylor family rings true as an outsider with secrets. He longs to have a closer relationship with them, but worries that if they knew where he came from they might reject him.
Readers, who have always known that he is a robot, are treated to an origin story which reveals plenty about Jet while still keeping a few things in reserve. It also reveals something about the nature of war and the lengths to which governments would be willing to go to keep fighting. Lepp is clear to point out that both sides in war are guilty.
While it was unclear in the first volume how long the war has been going on, this volume makes it clear that it has become a multi-generational war, with neither side able to gain the upper hand, and neither side willing to back down. That begs the question: how does one recover from the scars of war if the war itself never ends? Since all of the people in the book carry either physical or emotional scarring, will they ever find peace?
Rust is a shining example of how comics done right. Great story, fantastic art, and a message which is accessible to young and old alike.
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